The Greer name, Greer sites and other Genealogy Web Sites
Origin of the Greer Name
The commonly accepted origin of the Greer name is that it is derived from the Clan Gregror - the MacGregors or sons of Gregor. Note there is no distinction between McGregor and MacGregor, both being anglicised versions of the Gaelic name.
The histories of early Scotland are invevitably vague and partial. We know the MacGregors were notorious for their fierceness in battle and for the assiduity with which they pursued their enemies. In 1563 their lands were seized and licences to pursue the MacGregors with "fire and sword" were granted to Sir John Campbell of Glenorchy. In 1603, the very name MacGregor was proscribed by an order of the Privy Council. All those who bore the name were commanded on pain of death to adopt other surnames. This proscription survived till 1674, when some, but not all, readopted the MacGregor name.
Many different names were adopted during the proscription, including Gregor, Greig and Greer, in a variety of spellings. From these derive today's MacGregors, McGregors, Griersons, Greers and many others. Greers started emigrating to America in the early 1600's. Greers also moved from Scotland to Northern Ireland, in many cases descendants moved on to America. Other Irish Greers moved back to Scotland during the industrial revolution and in some cases their descendants came to America. Greers are the classic Scots-Irish that so many in the US are descended from.
My middle name, and my mother's maiden name is McAra, a much less common name than Greer. It is also connected to MacGregor, since the McAra's were a sept, or sub clan of MacGregor.I suspect my Greer ancestry goes back through Glasgow to Ireland and back to Scotland. My McAra ancestry goes from Glasgow directly to the highlands of Scotland.
Since I came to the US 280 years after the first Greers, any connection betwen me and most US Greers must be back in Scotland or Ireland. I am in the process of tracing my ancestry in Scotland and I have posted my Gedcom files here, as well as a gendex.txt file. Below are some of the places I have found useful and/or interesting in my research.
Sites and lists devoted to Greers
Greer Family Genealogy Forum - The obvious place to start if you are researching Greers. You can search among the postings to the forum, as well as post your own queries.
Grierson World Project A heroic effort to document the Greer name and all its variations from 787AD to the present day. Well worth a visit.
Laura's Greer Ancestors go back to 1788 in Virginia with a possible link to John Greer, born abt 1650 in Dumfriesshire, Scotland. She includes a lot of miscellaneous Greers including some who fought in the Revolutionary war and the Civil War.
The Greer Mailing list . - To subscribe to the list, send an e-mail to: GREER-Lemail@example.com with SUBSCRIBE in the BODY of the message). The list owner is Pat McCarthy. E-mail: mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org .
Sites and lists devoted to MacGregors
The Clan Gregor homepage The starting point for MacGregor research, links to MacGregor societies around the world, Scottish genealogical and other information.
Children of the Mist - as the Clan was known when proscribed and disappeared into the hills. The site of the California Clan Gregor society. The ancient MacGregor tartan has been faded a bit for use on this site, making a marginally better background for reading than the previous site. Call me an old fuddy duddy, but I still prefer white for page backgrounds. Covers the history in some detail, the facts on Rob Roy (again) and much of the other usual stuff.
Rob Roy Thanks to Sir Walter Scott and more recently, Liam Neeson, Rob Roy is the most well known MacGregor.
Scottish genealogy sites that I have found useful
Scots Origins - The Scots Origins database contains fully searchable indexes of the General Register Office for Scotland, an index to births/baptisms and banns/marriages from the Old Parish Registers dating from 1553 to 1854, plus the indexes to births, deaths and marriages from 1855 along with an index to the Census of 1891. The available records stop 100 years ago (i.e. a further year is added each year). You have to pay £6 ($10) in advance for 30 pages of records information that you can gather over 2 days. To retrieve copies of actual documents (such as a birth or marriage record) is £10 ($16). This is one of the best genealogical sites on the internet if you have ancestors from Scotland. You need a starting name and a date for an event (birth, death or marriage) to search effectively, a place helps a lot. Don't count on serendipity. A search on a common name (like John Greer) will generate 50 or more possibiliities over a plus/minus five year period. So unless you want to spend a lot of money, you need to be precise on who, when and where before searching here.
Scottish Genealogy LDS Reference Information - most people interested in genealogy know about the services of the Church of Latter Day Saints (LDS). This site provides background on how to use LDS Family Research Centers (FRC) and guides on Scottish information available there.
DIY Genealogy in Scotland - a professional researcher tells you how to do it, lists useful books and offers his services if you don't want to do it yourself.
General genealogy sites
The soundex code for Greer is G660 - use this when you are searching on any site that offers soundex as choice - that way you don't need to type in Greir, Grear and so on to cover all the spelling variations. This does generate a lot of irrelevant stuff (unless your ancestors had very strange pronunciation), so you have to decide yourself whether you want to wade through twenty pages one time or run five searches.
Genealogy Exchange & Surname Registry - a volunteer run, free site, that lets you link up with other people searching for any surname and also lets you post specific queries. Useful if you have a specific ancestor, and enough information about him/her to permit someone else to make a connection. The site also provides links to volunteers who will do lookups for you in local libraries and some official records. Very useful.
Genealogy Internet Site Indices A specialized search engine that only searches genealogy sites. It didn't turn up much for me, but the concept seems valid and maybe it will get better over time.
GenServ HOMEPAGE A fee based site ($1 per month) with gedcom files from subscribers. I haven't used this one yet, but it looks interesting for US based Greers. I suspect there won't be so much about UK Greers.
USGS Query Form A wonderful tool, lets you list all the places in the USA with a particular name (Greer, for example) - it gives state, county, population, zip, latitude and longitude. Useful for finding the county when you only know the town and state. There are fourteen towns and one county with Greer in their name.
Ancestry.com Online Genealogy A great site with tons of databases. Unfortunately you have to pay ($60 p.a.) for the good stuff, but you can find out for free what they have there for the names you are looking for. What it lists isn't always something they have there - you may see a reference to a family history book, and they will list the libraries that hold it, but the actual data you need won't be on the site.
Roots Surname List - Interactive Search Another site where you post your query and others see if they can help you, or you browse what's there on the basis that if you recognize anyone, then the poster may have other information you need. You need dates and locations to make any use of this.
Treasure Maps the How-to Genealogy Site A good reference site that is more than a list of links. Good information on how to use the LDS family centers.
Tuffsearch's Ancestors' Attic Another guide and link site, but very selective. The home page could be more informative. I found this site useful for NY information (the black hole of genealogy).
If you clicked on the link at the top of the page, you have been listening to a 2-4 time March medley - Highland Laddie, The Barren Rocks of Aden and Teribus. Highland Laddie is the first tune many pipers learn, as I did in the East Kilbride 1st Boys Brigade Pipe Band back in 1962. Below are a few more tunes I like in the midi format. For a full selection try Bagpipes at Best.
Depending on your OS and applications, the music may play in different ways. If Windows Media Player plays .mid files, then it will open and you will be able to control the volume and playback separately from Internet Explorer. If you have a QuickTime plug-in which has taken over the .mid format, then this page will disappear and a QT control bar will appear. In this case use the back button then open in a new window (hold the shift key down when you click). There may be other behaviours as well. I hate pages that play music automatically, so this is designed to give you control, unfortunately it also means I can't be sure how it will work for you.
Lochan Side - a Retreat, but quite a jaunty tune for that. Come to think of it, I suppose the message was to step lively in a rearward direction. Scottish regiments didn't use retreats much, we tend to press on regardless.
The Flowers of the Forest - a Lament written for the Clansmen who died for Bonny Prince Charlie at Culloden, April 16, 1746 (amazingly enough, the last battle fought on British soil). I remember playing this with a pal at the Cenotaph in East Kilbride on an 11th of November in the mid 60's after the two minutes of silence, back when the country still stopped at 11am on 11/11 to remember the fallen of two world wars.
Torosay Castle You don't get the effect from the midi, but this is a favorite of many bands since it makes such nice use of the limited harmony achievable with the GHB. You need to hear it in the open air played by six or more pipers (true of most bagpipe tunes, apart from those that are at their best with 100 pipers.)
The Mason's Apron My paternal grandfather was a Grand Master of the Masonic Lodge in Govan, Glasgow, which may explain why I like this interesting tune.
I'm afraid the midi format and the typical sound card don't add up to a very accurate representation of the Great Highland Bagpipe (GHB), especially the grace notes (demi-semi-quavers), but you can use your imagination.
If you have a reasonably fast web connection and Real Audio player, try
Artists, Here's to the Highlands from Green Linnett Records. (This link
is inevitably less reliable than the midi files, which are on my site.)
Better quality but needing a high speed connection to stream are mp3
format tunes River Bend or Cape Breton
Reel by Barry Shears; visit his website