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A Native Family Name of the Shetland Islands since 1400

David BoltHello and welcome to my family history website home page.

My name is David Thornton Bolt a Professional Photographer of thirty years living in the North East of England.

I began researching my family history way back in 1999, initially with pen & paper and a few family photos. I would regularly visit Libraries and city archives, then in 2001 I enrolled onto a beginners web page design course run over ten evening classes, where I began to build my family history website. I enrolled on further courses in 2003, 2012 and 2013 as technology and computer software evolved.

With a lot of patients and determination this family website now exceeds 100 pages and will continue to grow week by week continuing to attract visitors from around the world.

The aim of this site is to record and display the history behind the Bolt families that are believed to be of Shetland or Norse origin. I hope to show how the family have grown and developed since the13th Century. To date I currently have nine separate Bolt lines living on or around the Shetland Islands. Finding the missing link may one day bring them all together.

The low point of hardship was reached during the mid 19th century; total dependence on the land and sea by a population of 31,000 was extremely hard, crime was rife poverty and malnutrition was on the increase, however life, was about to change and began to be more unpleasant. It had now become apparent to landowners that sheep farming might be a more profitable form of income than fishing and crofting. Tenants thus became an obstacle, rather than an asset and fishing tenures began to die out.

Landowners offered payments to tenants to move, then moderate persuasion, then heavy handed persuasion or even forced eviction, this was known in Scottish history as the period of the land clearances. Between 1861 and 1881 it is recorded in the Census that the population of Shetland decreased by over 8000 people or one quarter.

Crofting is a form of land tenures and small-scale food production unique to the Scottish Highlands, and the islands of Scotland.

I pick up the story as my Bolt ancestors are forced to leave their family, friends and the Shetland islands to start a new life many many miles away;

In 1852 my 4th great grandfather Laurence Hughson Bolt aged 49 arrives in Leith, Scotland recently widowed with his young family.

In 1860 my 3rd great grandfather, Archibald Barclay Bolt now aged 18 year leaves his family in Leith and arrives at North Shields, England.

In 1856 my 4th great uncle Francis Bolt aged 25 arrives in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

and finally my 1st Cousin 5x removed William Mouat Bolt arrives in Dunedin, New Zealand aboard the sailing ship Nelson in 1863 aged 26.

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Please take your time to browse this site and see if you have a connection with my Bolts from the Shetland Islands. Join me on this fascinating journey of discovery.


New site map above is designed to be an easy way of navigating this site.

The external links page will take you away to other sites of interest, but please do come back as I welcome your comments.
If you can add to the information found on this site or highlight any inaccuracies, please do contact me via the Contact Form:

LAST SITE UPDATE: 14th June 2016


Site developed and maintained by David Thornton Bolt - all images are © copyright 2001-2016