The surname HUGHES (several spelling variants) was numerous amongst the fishers recorded in 19th century censuses for Pittenweem, Fife, Scotland. A twentieth-century oral tradition in at least one HUGHES branch held that the family fished in Pittenweem for “hundreds of years”. This study aimed to examine the tradition, using sound genealogical research techniques of record collection, critical assessment, comparison and analysis, and briefly sets the results in historical context. Lack of information from local vital records created some difficulties, but contextual strategies (for example collection of data for collateral relatives; analysis of baptismal records—particularly witness data—for social connections and possible occupation of baby’s parents) were used as supplements. Alternative strategies proved effective. Evidence was found for fishers in every generation of this direct male line for at least 200 years, with a possible paper-trail for nearly 300 years. A wider question arises over whether the many HUGHES fishers of Pittenweem were from one biological family. Records back to the 1720s suggest this is possible, but lack of earlier paper documentation allows alternative interpretations. Two members of the wider family have had Y-DNA testing which provided a good match—it was concluded that additional samples from descendants of particular, documented, 18th century lines might resolve this issue.
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