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Wills of Scots soldiers who died in wars published

Paolo Nutini, left, and his great-great-grandfather's will. Pictures: PA

Paolo Nutini, left, and his great-great-grandfather's will. Pictures: PA

THE last wishes of more than 30,000 Scottish soldiers who died in conflict are being published online as part of the centenary of the First World War.

The National Records of Scotland database includes the wills of soldiers from the First and Second World Wars, the Boer War, Korean War and other battles between 1857 and 1964.

The First World War makes up the majority of the records with 26,000 wills from Scottish soldiers, including some with famous relatives.

One of the wills is of Private John Feeley who served in the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders and died during the Battle of Arras in April 1917.

Researchers discovered that he is the great-great-grandfather of musician Paolo Nutini. He left all of his property and effects to his wife, Annie, who lived until 1964.

His will reads: “In the event of my death, I give the whole of my property and effects to my wife Mrs Annie Feeley, 12 Barr St, Paisley.”

The team at the National Records also found the will of Andrew Cox, the uncle of Dundee-born actor Brian Cox. Pte Cox was a rope-worker before the war, and served with the Highland Light Infantry.

He was killed in the Battle of Neuve Chapelle in March 1915 aged 22. His body was never identified and like many unmarried soldiers, all of his belongings were passed to his mother, Elizabeth.

The records are drawn from all the Scottish infantry and cavalry regiments, as well as the Royal Artillery, Royal Army Medical Corps, Royal Army Service Corps, the Machine Gun Corps and other units, and a few who served in the Royal Flying Corps and the RAF.

The wills were usually found in pay books retrieved on the battlefield, from forms in Army record offices in Britain, or in letters sent home in which soldiers might mention their last wishes.

Tim Ellis, registrar general and keeper of the records of Scotland, said: “We are privileged to be marking the centenary of the start of the First World War by making these remarkable records available.

“They give us a unique insight into the service of Scottish soldiers during the First and Second World Wars, but also in other conflicts before and since.”

Almost all the wills were written by soldiers below officer rank, but some wills for commissioned officers are also included.

Among the records there are almost 5,000 wills from Scottish soldiers who served during the Second World War, several hundred from the Boer War and Korean War, and wills from other conflicts up to 1964.

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “These small but powerful documents are a testament to the sacrifice in wartime made by thousands of Scots, not only the soldiers themselves, but also their families and loved ones.”

The soldiers’ wills are available at www.ScotlandsPeople.gov.uk, at the ScotlandsPeople Centre in Edinburgh, and at local family history centres in Glasgow, Kilmarnock, Hawick and Inverness.

 

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