Should I write it?

Lady Boisdale ad June 1875

Mary Macdonald 1857- Liverpool

Mary MacDonald (nee Hender 1805-1881) aka “Lady Boisdale”



Should I write it?

I still remember when the book ROOTS came out, and how it was a massive hit which was then made into a movie.

It was the first time, that I can recall, that a book was written about the genealogy of one person, traced back to his slave roots. It was a genealogical book, written in such a great way that it captivated the public. It brought us back generations and told the fascinating story of a man and how he came to be who he was. The book was written by taking stories from all the amazing experiences his ancestors had gone through- both good and bad, and making it flow forward into the life of the man telling the story.

I have such a story. It’s not fiction either. It’s very real and continues to this day. I’ve been working on it for 35+ years but am ready to share it now. I should write a fictional novel based on fact. This is the only way it can be told because there are gaps in this story that have to be filled in.

The above woman is only one tiny part of the story I’d write.  She would be the character known as “Lady Boisdale” as she referred to herself. She was the wife of a Scottish laird who left Scotland and moved to England. He lived on the money he inherited after his land was sold off.

Lady Boisdale (or Mary Hender)  was only about 15-18 when she met him and was illiterate. He was 39 by this time and had had at least 3 prior illegitimate children before her. Her father was quite a character and so was she!

She had 9 children before she “officially” married him in a secret wedding called an irregular marriage. Together they had 12 children and he had at least 15 that I’m aware of.

He directly descended from the great Macdonald of Clanranald clan that can be traced back to Somerled.  She was of Cornish stock, descended from a shoemaker and somehow ended up living as a proper lady but without the legitimacy.

The truly amazing part is that she was a rough and tough lady who ended up in court for various reasons and always represented herself rather than hire a lawyer. She was accused of stealing, had a baby left on her doorstep who died within the day, got beat up for not paying her rent for over 6 months and charged with various other offenses. She ran a boarding house when her husband went AWOL, in order to support herself.

For about 30 years they lived as gentleman/woman with nice homes and lots of servants. They moved from Plymouth, to Swansea, and finally to Liverpool. By 1857, he was put in debtors prison for insolvency and then disappeared for a few years.

Once back, they moved in with their only son who hadn’t emigrated and spent the last decade or so in virtual poverty. Their children either died young in the UK or emigrated and then died young where they moved to. Each child has their own fascinating and tragic story as well.

To top it off there is a possibility that there might be a claim to the chieftainship of the clan because of the story I discovered.

My husband is descended from this family. The genealogy was done just to find his ancestors names. The story was discovered while I was doing the work finding them. I’ve been told so many times that this would make a great novel. There is only one problem.

I’ve never written a book! I’ve only written a short story. I’m not sure if I should write short stories about each person or try and put it all together as a novel. This is going to be my project for the next few years.  What’s a Button, by the way? (see above photo of ad)

About tiesthatbindsite

I'm a genealogist with a passion for Scottish and English ancestry. I'm trilingual so I can also do research in French Canadian records and Italian records. My love for family history began 35 years ago and continues to grow every day. My family is very important to me and I hope to instill in them a love for "where they came from" so that they can better understand who they are. I also want to share my love of family history with anyone who understands how important it is to not lose site of their ancestors. They all have a story to tell.
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7 Responses to Should I write it?

  1. I have just started a blog to begin writing down some of my family history and tell some of their interesting stories. I have many more years of research before its near book stage but sounds like you have an interesting tale to tell so go for it write that book and put to use the years of research.


    • Thanks for the encouragement! I think I’ll invest in Dragon software so that I can just speak into a microphone and it’ll do all the grammar etc! I type fast but the thoughts flow more freely when you are just speaking. You can always edit it afterwards. I’ll follow you so that I can read your stories too.


      • Great thanks and thanks for the tip about follow button. I am completely new to blogging and have no idea what half the things are yet but I wanted to share the research so thought I would wing it and learn as I go.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. lefloreb says:

    Yes, yes and more yes. My book took several years to fully research, more years to write and workshop. Everyone has a story to tell.


  3. fhtess65 says:

    What a fantastic story! Your husband’s ancestors certainly sound like a family saga could be based on their lives. I’d definitely try to write something from it if you feel motivated to do so. Maybe try some short pieces and share with others for feedback. While there’s a LOT to know about fiction writing, story is the key – everything else can be learned. It sounds to me like you’re a natural storyteller. Feel free to send something to me for feedback 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks fhtess65! I’m hoping that it comes naturally. How can I not share this story?


  5. lefloreb says:

    Yes, Go for it. Every family has a story. I twisted mine into a novel based on a few threads of truth.


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