Ancestral Research Assistance – tips if you have Crail Ancestors


Back on 21 January 2012 when I was wandering round Crail Harbour taking the photographs above, the glorious January day held no echoes for me of a calamitous event which had happened in this very spot some 247 years before. In the mouth of the harbour, a ship was lost on the same day in 1765.

Fast forward a year or more, and some families who are undertaking family tree research around the world have happened upon some information linking descendants of one William Runciman who perished on that day.  The Runciman family got in touch with the VisitCrail blog to ask for assistance in tracing possible descendants of the 8 men who were lost when their ship sank.

Various members of the family have been working on their family tree for many years.  Indeed, the person who wrote to the VisitCrail blog told us that she had started her family tree research before the days of the Internet, when her tools to contact family members were a Roneo machine and some telephone directories!

On receipt of her email, I was interested to see what we could do to help her and her family find out about possible local connections as she plans to come to Crail in May 2015.  At that time, various descendants of the family are planning to commemorate the tragedy by meeting up in the village of Crail.

Here are some of the ideas we suggested:

  1. The Crail Museum –  contact: (they’re open from Easter – October usually and staffed by volunteers).  
  2. Crail History Society – we’ll try to find a contact
  3. Fife Family History Society –
  4. Crail Community Council – (find out more at: the local council meets monthly and are the keepers and distributors of the Crail Common Good Fund –  they might consider an application for a plaque or memorial, and in any event would have to be consulted about anything to do with the harbour.
  5. About Crail – the local community newspaper run by Peter Salkeld, (have now carried a story about this commemoration). 
  6. Local Press – may be interested in your story and willing to publish a “Human interest” story searching for connections.  ( – East Neuk Mail and St Andrews Citizen are the two most local papers.
  7. Crail Church – – that there was a project done by the local museum to document gravestones and information about the graveyard at the church.  Wonder if there are any memorials to the families involved in the shipwreck in the churchyard? [Update: looking for Plot #32 on Crail Cemetery plan – grave of William Runciman]
  8. Fisheries Museum in Anstruther – well worth a visit when you’re visiting Fife in Scotland
  9. There is a Lifeboat Station at Anstruther – perhaps this might be something to include in the family tour as you reflect on what would happen if there were a ship in trouble today
  10. Karen Nichols of Scotia Heritage ( provides a service where she will help with travel to places around Fife which would have been important to your family.
  11. There’s a book sold at the Crail Book Shop ( which I’ve checked for information about “your” shipwreck, but there is no mention, nor are the family names listed as being fisher folk names for Crail (there’s a reference to a book written by David Dobson ( called “The Mariners of St Andrews and the East Neuk of Fife 1600-1700” which lists names of families whose trade was fishing.  The only name in common with this list is Tailor /Taylor.)
  12. The other useful contact which you might like to know in advance of your visit is that of the Special Collections Division at the University of St Andrews –
  13. Crail Preservation Society – local interest and preservation of historical buildings. ( Found this in their records talking about an exhibition in 2010 in the local musuem.
“One, from the 1890s, is photographs taken by Erskine Beveridge. He took photographs all over Scotland and America but these are just of Crail where he spent a number of summers and stayed at Kirkmay House. Although his wealth came from linen mills in Dunfermline, he was a very talented amateur photographer. He was also the first person to use photography in recording graveyards and he did a very detailed survey of our graveyard and published the “Churchyard Memorials of Crail”. Members of CPS and the Museum repeated this survey a hundred years later and the results are in the Museum.”

I’ve started a Pinterest Board to store some of the ideas for genealogy research in the area, which you can see here. Hope it helps!

Do you have any further suggestions about local resources which might help these families trace descendants locally? Let us know by commenting on this post.

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Disaster for Tourism!

The two administrators for the Visit Crail site received an intriguing email a week ago, from a lady in Australia whose family are planning a visit to Crail.  They’re already preparing for their trip, although the trip will not be until May 2015.

The reason for the trip? Ancestral research has led various members of a number of families to a particular event which happened back in 1765 – a disaster for those families who were involved as a shipwreck in the mouth of Crail Harbour led to the loss of 8 fishermen.  You can read about the family connections here.

The families who are planning to visit Crail are looking to contact anyone living in the village of Crail who might know of descendants of the families whose ancestors perished on that January night.

fishing boat disaster Crail 21 January 1765

  • Brown
  • Burn, Burns
  • Cunningham
  • Dewar
  • Keay, Key, Kay
  • Ramsay, Ramsey
  • Runciman
  • Taylor

The authors of the Visit Crail blog (holiday home owners Giselle and Susan) are happy to help in any way we can to facilitate connections with the families – as well as hopefully being able to provide accommodation for those who travel from afar to visit a place which was an important one in the families’ history.

This contact came just at the time when I (Susan) was planning a series of blog posts about Ancestral Tourism, having recently participated in the Tourism Intelligence Scotland’s training course held in St Andrews.  I’m planning to add some information in the days to come about the suggestions we made to the families who first contacted us.  In the meantime, please let us know if you can help trace any possible descendants of the families named above.

We can be reached at:

giselle [at]

susan [at]

The newsletter this morning (18 November 2013) also published information about this search, and we’d be grateful if you have any other local sources of information you could suggest to help these families make the most of their visit to Crail in 2015.

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Ardross Farm aims to please yet again

Supporters of the event last year, Ardross Farm are back for a second year. Showcasing some of the best produce Fife has to offer, I caught up with Nikki from the Farm, who shared her thoughts on last year’s festival, while keeping us guessing about what would be on offer this year.

Why do you think the first ever Crail Food Festival was such a success?

I can think of two reasons; the people who organised it and the current buzz around local produce. A fantastic team of hard working enthusiasts really engaged with the community. Additionally, local food in the past few years has really taken off. People are now genuinely interested in buying local ingredients to cook with at home. The combination of a hard working team and a topic that people feel passionately about made the festival a success.

Why do you want to participate again this year?

We had a great day last year. We spoke to customers who visit us regularly and met lots of people who had never shopped with us before. As a result, our shop became busier than normal, as many new customers drove from the festival to visit us on their way home. The reason we started the shop was due to our frustration with the food chain; why did our carrots get taken down to the south of England to be cleaned, just to be driven back up to our local Co-op? The Crail Food Festival connects producers with the end customer resulting in minimal food miles, while delivering a better quality product to the customer.

What can we expect from Ardross Farm at the event this time round?

We haven’t quite decided yet, but rest assured it will be fresh, local and chosen especially for food lovers!

Did you benefit from being a participant in the festival last year?

Yes, we attracted new customers and new suppliers. Educating people about what is                 going on in our area regarding food is also fundamental to our business –  the people who visited last year were genuinely interested in us and what we are doing.

Do you think the festival has been successful in raising awareness of Fife produce?

I would definitely say so. It was lovely to see people coming into our shop after the event specifically looking for certain products that they had sampled at the festival

Posted by Chiara from Wine and Olives.

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Crail Food Festival is back for its second year

Time does indeed fly. It’s hard to believe that a year has passed since the inaugural Crail Food Festival, where we basked in the sun and ate delicious, fresh, local produce. But what happened behind the scenes to make the event so successful, and what do the masters behind this ceremony have in store for us this year? I spoke to Susan McNaughton, Social Media Manager for the Crail Food Festival who shared her thoughts on the event.

A fun filled food festival in Fife

Beautiful day 2011

You were involved in the Crail Food Festival last year, what made you want to be part of it again?

In 2010, a business group was set up in Crail to bring together local businesses who have interests in the village. Our company has owned a holiday cottage in Crail for 20 years now, so when I heard about the idea to launch a food festival, I was interested for several reasons. I was excited about launching something new which would extend the tourist season and build on other festivals which already run in the summer, such as the East Neuk Festival and the Crail Festival. The delicious food which is produced in Fife deserves to be celebrated, so a food festival seemed an ideal way to do that. At that time, I had launched a new business venture which was geared towards promoting festivals by using social media, and the opportunity to get involved was really exciting.

When I was asked to support the festival again, I agreed on the basis that I would train other members of the community in the ways of using social media. That teamed with fact that Graham Anderson is such an enthusiastic and inspirational person, it’s an honour to be helping out again. Oh, and did I mention the food? Yes, the chance to taste so much delicious produce may have swung it!

You helped to move the festival onto another level through the use of social media, what tools will you be using this year to help promote the festival?

It was thrilling to connect by building anticipation – we knew people would love this event! At the centre of our campaign will be our website, where we hope to integrate a magazine or blog section. This will allow us to raise awareness of local businesses and producers who are participating in the event. We’ll also be using Facebook and Twitter to communicate directly with both participants and those of you who will be attending the event. We’ll also be using more visuals –  videos and photographs – to bring the experience to life before it even happens.

How do you think this year’s event will differ from the launch last year?

We learned a lot from our first year. All of our organisers are volunteers, so keeping the event to a 3-day festival is realistic. In keeping with last year, we’ll have the opening event on the Friday night, a supper, but we’re exploring a multi-cultural theme this year and planning comedy rather than music for the evening entertainment. On Saturday we’ll add in a celebration of the schools competition which we’re running in association with the Royal Highland Education Trust. There will also be a bake-off with local cafes competing – the theme will be summer berries. Alongside this, there will be a food market event with cookery demonstrations. The evening will come to a close with a musical supper and events in local hotels.

Sunday’s showcase event at the iconic Crail Harbour will have a wider variety of producers involved, with some new collaborations to bring different combinations together as well as more family fun on the beach.

Has your involvement in the festival created any further opportunities for you?

Yes, it has. My work with the Crail Food Festival attracted the attention of the Lammermuir Festival, a music based event which takes place in September in East Lothian, who asked me to help out with some work. With two case studies, I was then in a position to apply to work as part of a project team delivering training and assistance to festivals and events in the Scottish Borders. But it’s not only the opportunities which have come my way. I’ve also been able to encourage others to volunteer this year and we are hoping to offer work experience to those who participate in the event. This will hopefully equip them with the necessary tools to turn their voluntary work into paid employment.

Do you think a sense of community spirit is essential in making an event like this a success?

I have no doubt that coming together to work as a team within our local community was paramount in making the first ever event of its type in our village run smoothly. The success of the first event has meant that we now have a much wider pool of volunteers to draw upon – they want to be associated with the success again! A glorious sunny day last year really helped to entice people to visit the village of Crail, where they were met with a warm welcome. We hope they will return again and again because it’s a great place to relax, unwind and treat yourself to some delicious local food.

Posted by Chiara from Wine and Olives.

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Successful Launch Night for 2012 Crail Food Festival

On Saturday 7th April around 100 resident and visitors applauded Crail Food Festival
Event Manager Graham Anderson of The Honeypot Guest House and Tearoom as
he announced the plans for the summer programme of Crail Food Festival 2012. The
Saturday night launch event was used to raise funds and was supported by 35 food
businesses operating within The Kingdom of Fife. Julien Poix of local Anstruther
delicatessen La Petite Epicerie prepared a tasting preview of some of the quality food
and drink that will feature in June and beers from Innis & Gunn and St Andrews
Brewing Company helped keep everyone in good spirits.

The summer event which will take place between 15th and 17th June is a follow up
to last years outstanding success which received over 2,000 visitors and generated a
£15,000 visitor spend. The three day programme starts on Friday evening 15th June
with some entertainment and will be followed with a Saturday Fife food producers
market, cookery demonstrations, tasting classes, kids competitions and bake off. A
traditional Scottish evening of music and food will be held on Saturday night with
a Fife supper prepared by local caterers and producers. Everything then moves to
the iconic setting of Crail harbour on Sunday for an afternoon extravaganza of food
tasting, music and fun for all the family.

Crail Food Festival will be updating all their news events and programme information
in the next few weeks.

Crail Food Festival:

Crail Food Festival launch night 2011

Graham Anderson, Quizmaster on the 2011 launch night

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Crail Food Festival 2012 Fun Launch Night

Crail Food Festival 2012 Fun Launch Night

Crail Food Festival 2012 Fun Launch Night

We’ve put together a little tale about our supporters so that we can share some of the credit for putting the Crail Food Festival 2012 Fun Launch Night together.

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No milk today – Crail Food History

While having a chat on Twitter about food supplies in Crail yesterday morning, this photograph was sent to our Crail Food Festival twitter account by Tom Orr (who goes by the Twitter name of @cyclingmollie). He supplied us with further detail that the milk “Proudly claimed to be from a Brucelosis and Tuberclin tested herd.  Unpasteurised, it tasted strongly of turnips in winter.”

Do you know anything of the history of the Ribbonfield Dairy, or the farmer D. Morris?

Tom also suggested that we read a book called “Footsteps in the Furrows” by Andrew Arbuckle.

When researching ideas for the 2012 Crail Food Festival by visiting the Berwick Food Festival in September, we saw an interesting exhibition there about their food history. Could this milk bottle be the beginning of a historical strand for our next event?  We’re on the look out for ideas and volunteers to put them into action. Can you help?

Contact us at: if you have a story to tell about this or would like to help.

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Keeping the ideas flowing – Crail Food Festival 2012

As soon as we’d packed away the stalls and had a little celebration after the first Crail Food Festival in June 2011, the thinking caps were on and we were considering what the format and vision would be for the second Crail Food Festival in June 2012.

One of the great things we have in our favour in planning for 2012 is that we now have photographs; people’s stories about the fun they had last year; and a track record to prove that we can bring an event together.

We’ve also got ambassadors: the people who supported and believed in us in the first year, are out there telling others what a good event it was. This is encouraging more people to sign up to take a stall for our 2012 Festival.

The other thing we’ve been doing is travelling the length and breadth of the country to visit foodie events and see what others are doing to promote their local food producers, chefs and foodies.

So Finlay’s been up to the Cawdor Food Festival, and Susan’s been to the Berwick Food Festival, Borough Market in London, Elmwood College and the East of Scotland Food and Drink Network Dinner. Graham, Susan and Ian have also been talking to other Fife Festivals about collaboration.

To find out more about these journeys, you can follow us on Facebook or tap into our Tweets.

We’re working away over the winter months, keeping in touch with the friends of the Festival and thinking about the events for our three day Festival which will be on 15th, 16th and 17th June 2012. If you’d like to make a suggestion or find out more by emailing:

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Calling all fans of the village of Crail

We’d be very glad to hear from you if you have something to share about the village of Crail – something which would be of interest to visitors to the village. Something which you enjoy doing while you’re in Crail, maybe, or a local business which you’ve received good service from.

This blog is for the benefit of visitors – but we do need more contributions to encourage visitors to visit at all times of the year, and not just when our summer Festivals are in full swing.

If you’d like to contribute, please get in touch by emailing in the first instance:


Look forward to hearing from you.

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The Unforgettable Taste of Success

Anybody who visited Crail on the weekend of the 17th-19th of June this year will no doubt know that the Crail Food Festival was a massive success. Organising something of this scale doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time, commitment and enthusiasm, all of which Finlay Kerr of the Caiplie Guest House has by the bucket load. I had a chat with him after the festival madness had died down.

What made you come up with the idea to start a food festival?

It was really a combination of things, a love of food, a love of events such as The Big Tent Festival and a desire to bring new and old visitors to our lovely town of Crail.

What challenges did you face in organising the Crail Food Festival?

We had big dreams and high standards so to achieve these from a standing start was hard. Our event at Crail Harbour on Sunday was particularly challenging to manage, but we did it. Sunday was so popular that we actually completely sold out of food. A victory for the Crail Food Festival and all of its wonderful producers!

What message do you think the Crail Food Festival sent out to the local community?

We’ve been successful in creating a strong brand in the name of local produce. We live in a great place that people love to visit, and where community values lie at the heart of what we do. With this sort of support in place, anything is possible.

Why do you think people should shop more locally?

There are so many reasons why people should shop locally. Not only is it better for your health, whilst supporting the local community, it’s also better for the planet. Local shops are so well resourced, but unfortunately if we don’t use them we run the risk of them disappearing.

What do you think made the festival so successful?

Lots of hard work and perseverance brought the festival to life. Our vision of people enjoying themselves at Crail Harbour in the presence of freshly caught lobster and hog roasting was realised. Seeing people fascinated as fish was smoked in front of their eyes, and smoothies were made by peddling on a bike was truly something to behold. We were also lucky to have such a number of skilled people work with us and bring their expertise to the event. And as if by magic the sun was shining!

What makes Fife produce so special?

It has to be the sheer variety of produce available in Fife. There tends to be a bit more of a focus on shellfish, but our fruit, vegetables, meat and baked goods are just as good.

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