by Olive Lane Horning


In the introduction to his “Genealogical Account of the Highland Families of Shaw”, published in 1877, Alistair Mackintosh Shaw wrote;
If, as the Wise Man tells us, “the glory of children are their fathers”, those who can look back on a long array of ancestors among whom the virtues of patriotism, fidelity, and self-sacrifice were conspicuous, assuredly have we wherein to glory. They are born to an inheritance which, though it is purely sentimental in character, is yet, when rightly used, more really valuable than mere riches, and more truly ennobling than mere titles of rank.
To glory in or to be proud of such an inheritance is a duty incumbent on all who possess it; but their pride should be of a proper kind. None have a right to assume merit or to demand that others shall pay them respect on account solely of the number or worth of ancestors.

Those who can indulge in pride of race, therefore, should do so without demanding or expecting a special honor on account of it from others, remembering that honor is due only to merit, and that no merit is conveyed by birth.
True and legitimate pride in ancestors is shown by the endeavour to imitate their virtues and to keep unspotted the good name which they have transmitted; and it is in kindling and keeping warm such a pride that a knowledge of family history is of the highest possible value.
New generations of Shaws are growing up in various quarters of the world … may they be encouraged to maintain in every thought and action of their lives the honour of the name of Shaw.