I’ve always identified with my distant Scottish roots. It’s all in the name – Dalrymple. It’s a very Scottish surname and an actual town in Ayrshire, situated in the Scottish lowlands. My cousin Dan (whom inspired this post with a surprise phone call this evening) has spent an immense amount of time composing a thoroughly researched – and always changing – chronicle of our ancestry and family history, going back to the early 1700s. The two-volume set sits on my bookshelf as a prized possession.
Dan is by all practical definitions a Luddite and shuns most types of technology. As a result, the genealogy he’s chronicled is completely hand or type written. I took it into my own hands to bring his work to the modern age of technology, thereby creating DalrympleFamily.com. The site needs a lot of updating (and I fully intend to scan and upload Dan’s entire work), but through the years the website has served as a great way to connect with other distant relatives throughout the world who send random e-mails that make their way to my inbox.
I’ve always had great pride in the fact that Robert Burns, the national bard of Scotland, had a great connection to the Dalrymple people. Born in Ayrshire, Burns was baptized by a Reverend William Dalrymple in 1759. He had a life-long connection with the family and even included the name in a poem:
“D’rymple mild, D’rymple mild”
(Of course, I was sure to brag appropriately about this point when I attended my first Robbie Burns party this year.)
Another prominent British writer thought the name fit enough for her novels. Every once in awhile, the eyes of a Jane Austen fanatic widen in excitement when they hear my name. Austen’s character of Lady Dalrymple in Persuasion is not exactly the most favorable of characters, but I relish the fact that dear Jane thought my name suitable for one of her novels.
Family connexions were always worth preserving, good company always worth seeking; Lady Dalrymple had taken a house, for three months, in Laura Place, and would be living in style . . . Lady Dalrymple had acquired the name of “a charming woman,” because she had a smile and a civil answer for everybody.
Persuasion takes place in Bath, England, which is quite possibly one of my favorite towns on the planet. Though modern society encroaches, it has still managed to retain its Georgian fashion and charm. Nothing makes me happier than walking arm in arm through the Royal Crescent with Caroline, one of my oldest friends and my own modern-day Anne Elliot. More on that in an upcoming post…
A few years ago, while visiting Caroline in London, I decided to make a family pilgrimage to Edinburgh, Scotland. While I knew I couldn’t make it directly to Dalrymple, I spent a delectable two days wandering through Edinburgh’s winding streets, touring the highlands, eating shortbread, touring castles, taking underground ghost tours, drinking scotch and soaking up the incredibly deep history of the place.
Best of all, I discovered the “Edinburgh Literary Pub Tour,” which could not have been more up my alley. An entire evening spent listening to gorgeous Scottish men recite poetry in ancient courtyards while drinking beer? Sign me up!
My eagerness led me to sign up for the complete package, which included dinner before the tour. I figured that, as a solo traveler, this would be a good way to meet people.
Unfortunately, I was the only one intrepid enough to sign up for the complete package, and ended up enjoying a deliciously awkward multi-course, candle-lit meal in the middle of a massive second-floor stone dining room utterly alone. Luckily, about 15 other tourists joined in for the tour itself.
We sat in the pub where Robert Louis Stevenson gained his inspiration for Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, gathered in a courtyard where Burns cavorted with his chums, toasted “Willie” Wordsworth over a pint of Guinness, and chatted over fine whisky about Sir Walter Scott, with a Scottish accent, which always makes everything better.
It was a place where my name was familiar and rolled off the tongue. It was a place of ancient stones and words and depth that felt like home. My ancestors have been here for generations but the Scottish blood still runs thick through my veins.