Search for villagers’ relatives

Some of the Loinmuie descendants met children from the craft clubs at Descendants' Day in Ballater, earlier this year.
Some of the Loinmuie descendants met children from the craft clubs at Descendants' Day in Ballater, earlier this year.

The search for the descendants of the lost village of Loinmuie, near Ballater, has received a boost as the project moves into its second year.

So far, hundreds of living descendants of the ruined village have been identified throughout Scotland and beyond, even although it was last a vibrant community 200 years ago.

What began as a project by the children of Ballater Library’s two craft clubs for the Scottish Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology 2017 has blossomed into a much larger effort to create a unique record of the spread and successes of the descendants from the tiny community which now lies in forgotten ruins on the slopes of Glen Muick.

Following a successful Descendants’ Day during Ballater’s Victoria Week, a Signing Book has been installed in the library and anyone with an interest in the village is invited to share their thoughts to continue what is hoped will be a very special historic record for Ballater.

Joan Anderson, volunteer Loinmuie co-ordinator, who is heading up a new steering committee of descendants and friends to take the project forward, said: “We are launching a contact facility so we can help find out if you are one of the special people - including two of Ballater’s most famous sons, much-loved master butcher Mike Sheridan and benevolent Victorian John Riach - who are directly descended from the 1831 Loinmuie families.”

Thanks to a wealth of information loaned by the family of the late author and editor Robert Smith, Joan is now looking to trace more of the Stewart/Stuart/Dowie descendants whose connections with Glen Muick go back to the 1600s.

Joan added: “I’ve got lists and connections for many different names including McGregor, Irvine, Neill, Mackintosh, Leighton, Penson and Bell. It will take a bit of time but we hope to connect many more people to Loinmuie by the end of the year. We’re also hot on the trail of a large branch of Riachs - now called Reach - in America.”

The Loinmuie Friends group has many plans for the New Year, including organising a trip to the ruins, which are only accessible with extreme care and visible for two months in the Spring, a monthly free newsletter and a family gravestone clean-up in line with the last wishes of John Riach, whose legacy helped the poorest of Ballater, Glen Muick, Tullich and Glengairn over many decades.