All Black Captain's Scottish Ancestors

The Mitchell had everything needed to present Ritchie McCaw with his family tree.

The Timaru transported Ritchie McCaw's ancestors across the world.



The passenger list from The Timaru which shows Ritchie's ancestors as being on board.

The one-stop shop Family History Centre at The Mitchell had everything needed when VisitScotland wanted to present Ritchie McCaw, in Scotland to captain New Zealand against Scotland (November 2014), with his family tree. The family tradition was that they originated from the Scottish Borders and that his great-great grandfather Alexander had immigrated to New Zealand in the early 1890s.  Like all family legends, there is a lot of truth in the story - so do listen to your old Aunt Jeanie - but there were bits that did not make sense.  The trick is to keep an open mind.

It was all systems go to find the relevant information within the Registrars records including the births, marriages and deaths, the Old Parish Registers (OPRs) and census for all of Scotland.   The Scottish Borders piece of the jigsaw puzzle just did not fit.  Working back through the records, things began to fall into place.  The OPRs recorded the baptism of his great-great-great grandfather Alexander McCaw in Girvan in 1808.  A major piece of luck was that The City Archives holds one of the few surviving early passenger lists  listing travellers from Glasgow to NZ in the 1870s.  This shows Alexander, his wife and his daughter.  Their youngest son Alexander had remained behind but followed his family in the 1890s.    What about the Scottish Borders?  Well the family owned a farm in Cumberland, and using Ancestry Library, available free of charge in The Mitchell, we discovered them in the 1871 census living on the English side of the Scottish Borders.  The final whoop of success was that the City Archives had a copy of a painting of the Timaru, the ship that had transported them across the world.  That was the last piece of luck as Ritchie led his side to victory over Scotland.