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I never knew my father's family personally, because my parents (Kathleen Jordan and Rory Langford-Rae) split up when I was a few weeks old due to religious differences, and my father in any case was killed in a car accident in Assam when I was six - something we didn't find out about until several years later. But ever since I was a child my mother took an interest in her family's history, and I inherited her interest and began to apply it to my father's family as well.
The little we knew about my paternal grandmother came from the Hodgson family, who were friends of my father's: it was I believe Frieda Hodgson who told my mother that Rory's mother was "a very silly woman and best avoided", and the family's au pair Maria who said that she had "run off with a Tibetan". My mother found out in the early 1980s that my father's mother was called Ethel Maud Shirran on his birth-certificate, but "Elisa Maria Dorgi Khangsarpa" on the probate report relating to his death, and I knew Dorgi was a common name in the Himalayas: so I thought nothing of it at the time except "Haha, she really did run off with a Tibetan" and that she had changed her name from Ethel Maud to Elisa Maria - as you do.
It wasn't until August 2010 that I discovered that Elisa Maria Dorgi Khangsarpa was both fabulous and a fabulist; flambouyant and more than somewhat over the top but possessed of a brilliant mind; a key figure in Asian politics and a contributory one in the expansion of Buddhism in the West; and either semi-detached from reality or possessed of a very odd sense of humour. On the whole I'm leaning towards "sense of humour", especially after a family member told me she reinvented herself because she liked to mess with journalists' minds.
I had done a little digging into Ethel Maud's antecedents in the early 1990s, and knew that her father was both a soldier and a Chief Inspector for the Royal Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. But after discovering that Ethel Maud had been going around telling people she that was a Belgian aristocrat and her father was Field Marshall Mannerheim of Finland, I investigated her real origins in more depth and discovered that her true family was at least as interesting as the one she borrowed, and that her father's history lay with the Black Watch, the so-called "Ladies from Hell", and with the Bothy Ballads which I had learned as a student at the School of Scottish Studies.
Genealogy research mainly by myself (Claire Margaret Jordan, aka whitehound), my mother (Kathleen Veronica Jordan, aka tattyoldbitt or dreamcatcher), Stuart Roxburgh (aka stuartroxy or roxy), Jean Liddelow, Pat and Jenny Franklin, with assistance from George Center (aka ARMAGH), Tam (aka Black Jock - who located and interpreted many of the army records), Monica Leslie, Hudcorp and others at Rootschat and the Great War Forum. Some of the research is incomplete or speculative due to my not being able to afford to purchase birth certificates etc.
Images from Wikipedia/Wikimedia and from Geograph are used and licensed for reuse under the Creative Commons Licence.
John Shirran the rhymer, his wife Nancy Ironside and their children: great-grandparents, great-uncles and -aunts of Alexander.
"Jamie Shirran frae New Deer", poet or son of a poet, his wife Christian Shirran and their children: grandparents, uncles and aunts of Alexander.
John and Margaret Shirran and their children: parents and siblings of Alexander (below).
Alexander Shirran, my great great grandfather, born 1829: crofter and ploughman in the Auchterless/Monquhitter area.
The children of Alexander Shirran and Jessie Tawse: labourers and soldiers.
William Shirran, my great great uncle, son of Alexander Shiran and Jessie Tawse, born 1855: Chelsea Pensioner and landlord.
George Shirran, my great grandfather, son of Alexander Shiran and Jessie Tawse, born 1866: soldier and social-worker: with detailed chronology of his 26 years with The Black Watch and 24 with the RSSPCC.
The children of George Shirran and Florence Blanche Franklin: born in the barracks.
Ethel Maud Shirran, my grandmother, daughter of George Shirran and Florence Blanche Franklin, born 1904: a.k.a. Kazini Elisa Maria Dorgi Khangsarpa.
James Shirran born 1873: mysterious cousin.
Adam and Elspet Tawse and their children, parents and siblings of Jessie.
Jessie Tawse, my great great grandmother, born 1829: crofter's wife.
Margaret (Rettie) Shirran, daughter of George Shirran and Eliza Rettie, born 1883: the love-child.
The children of William James Franklin and Caroline Ellen Walsh: soldier-boys and boy soldiers.
Florence Blanche Franklin, my great grandmother, born 1875-ish: daughter, wife and mother of soldiers.
Family photograph, with key: a group photo' showing several generations of Franklins.
Family tree: a diagram.
Denis Wilmot Rae, my great-grandfather: administrator and anthropologist - also Ma or Daw Kyin, my great-grandmother.
Robert R Rae, my great-uncle: war-hero, big-game hunter and really not an escaped lunatic*, honest.
Bertram Langford Denis Rae, my grandfather: war-hero and frustrated lawyer. With side-essay on Sam Newland, Bertram's best friend and his brother Denis's (see below) commanding officer.
Denis Wilmot Rae, my great-uncle: war-hero and forester.
Rory Langford-Rae, my father, son of Bertram Langford Denis Rae and Ethel Maud Shirran: the secret-keeper. With side-essay on the history of St Augustine's school and college, Ramsgate, my father's old prep school.
*Psychiatric authorities in the US consider the word "lunatic" to be an offensive and insulting description for the mentally ill, because it implies somebody dangerous and unpredictable. In Bobby's case, however, that's precisely the implication I was aiming for.