An American tale and the Selkirk connection


It is estimated that upwards of 25m people around the world can trace their roots back to Scotland.

From the early 1700's on, thousands looked to new horizons and a better life overseas, sailing for destinations in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and other parts of the British Empire.  

Many booked a one-way passage to the brave new world that was to become the USA and some, like James Murray from Selkirkshire, would set in train a fate line that would leave an indelible mark on history.   

James embarked for Charleston in 1735, when America was a burgeoning British colony, and became a successful businessman. He made one trip home to the Borders - to marry his cousin Barbara Bennett.   
The couple's eldest daughter, Elizabeth, married Edward Hutchinson Robbins in 1785 and they raised a family of three girls. By this time living in the New York area, the eldest, Anne Jean Robbins married Joseph Lyman, a lawyer who went on to become a judge.  

Their daughter, Catherine Robbins Lyman, married a wealthy New Yorker, Warren Delano (your first real clue as to where this family tree is going).  The couple produced another daughter, Sara Delano, who wed James Roosevelt and their son Franklin Delano Roosevelt was to grow up to become one of America's best loved and internationally respected presidents.   

FDR served a record four terms, from 1933 to 1945, and was the architect of the New Deal to provide relief for the unemployed. He also brought America into the Second World War in 1941.  He is rumoured to have visited the graves of his maternal forebears, buried in the Kirk of the Forest, Kirk Wynd in Selkirk, while in Britain during the war.  

Today in the sedate surroundings of the old church ruins, a sign makes proud reference to the Murray - Roosevelt connection. Underneath is another historic link for the Selkirk's Kirk of the Forest - the place where William Wallace was proclaimed Guardian of Scotland in1298...but that's another story.      


A town in touch with its historic traditions | People and Traditions

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