All Black Captain's Scottish Ancestors

The Mitchell had everything needed to present Ritchie McCaw with his family tree.
A close up image of the All Black Captain wearing a black and white tracksuit top, looking to his left.

Family tree research

Image of The Albion Line's Timaru sailing on choppy seas. Two other boats in background as well as Ailsa Craig.
The Timaru transported Ritchie McCaw's ancestors across the world.
Historic photo of the passenger list from The Timaru.
The passenger list from The Timaru which shows Ritchie's ancestors as being on board.

The Family History Centre at The Mitchell had everything needed when VisitScotland wanted to present Ritchie McCaw with his family tree in November 2014. 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 but there were bits that did not make sense. The trick is to keep an open mind.

The information was found 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 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 which lists travellers from Glasgow to New Zealand in the 1870s. This shows Alexander, his wife and his daughter. Their youngest son Alexander had stayed behind but followed his family in the 1890s.

What about the Scottish Borders? The family owned a farm in Cumberland and we discovered them in the 1871 census living on the English side of the Scottish Borders. The final piece of success was that the City Archives had a copy of a painting of the Timaru. That was the last piece of luck as Ritchie led his side to victory over Scotland.

Photo showing The Family History centre branding and directional signage at The Family History Centre within The Mitchell Library

Family History at The Mitchell

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Family History at The Mitchell