Banffshire Fowk

It may be a relatively small strip of coastline, but Banffshire has made a big impression on the world. Many of our fowk – people in the native Doric dialect – have gone on to accomplish great things, from commanding Naval ships during the Battle of Trafalagar to topping the music charts. Why not delve into your family tree and see if you are related to any of our famous sons and daughters?

The area gave birth to a great many innovators who travelled the globe and helped to shape the world as we know it today. Among them was Lord Mount Stephen.  Born in Banffshire’s hinterland in the 1800s, he emigrated to Canada at the age of 21 and entered the railroad business. His talent for finance was spotted and he was eventually made a director – later president – of the Bank of Montreal before leaving to concentrate on running the company that built the Canadian Pacific Railway.

Had it not been for the likes of James Ferguson and his contemporaries, man may never have landed on the moon or travelled into space. Ferguson, who was born in Banffshire in 1710, was the leading astronomer and scientific instrument maker of his time, and garnered a remarkable reputation as a successful lecturer and scientific author. His genius was largely down to his simple explanations and ingenious diagrams of immensely complex subject matter.

While people from The Banffshire Coast may be synonymous with people who changed history, there were also some who made their name for more unusual reasons.  Could you be a dim and distant relative of William Bankier, who was born in Banff in 1870? Of course, you may not have heard your grandparents call him by that name: it’s more likely they referred to him as Apollo – the world renowned strong man who died in 1949, aged 80.

Or how about the enigmatic Dr Walford Bodie? The self-styled electrical wizard was one of the most famous and controversial performers of the British music hall and used electricity – still very much a new-fangled invention in the late 1800s – in his acts to amaze audiences. Bodie, who also excelled in magic and hypnotism, built a house in Macduff and gifted a stunning granite fountain to the town in memory of his daughter, Jeannie. You can visit it at the Macduff Maritime Garden.

While these characters from history have all helped to put The Banffshire Coast on the map there are, of course, thousands of stories relating to normal, everyday fowk who made their home here. Perhaps you are related to a fishing boat skipper, a talented silvermaker or even a smuggler – the final piece of your ancestral jigsaw could be found right here.

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