Hugh Millar Peskett: 1932-2020

Hugh Peskett with Clan Hay Archivist Alan Hay in Edinburgh's New Club last year

Members will be sad to learn of the death on 24 February, aged 87, of Hugh Peskett, a gigantic figure in the world of genealogy over the last 50 years.

Hugh was originally a Dartmoor sheep farmer, before an accident with sheep-dip caused a debilitating illness that prevented him working with sheep again.  Long interested in genealogy, he decided to make a career of it, and what a career it turned out to be.

Although based in the English town of Winchester, he proudly boasted of his Scottish forebears, in that he was "only one eighth English, and even that eighth is Cornish."   Both his grandmothers were Highlanders and he was directly descended from the Buchanans of Leny, and a proud wearer of the Buchanan tartan.  One of his last achievements was to prove, before the Lord Lyon King of Arms, the claim of Michael Buchanan of Arnprior and of that Ilk to be Chief of his clan.  As a result of his efforts, Mike Buchanan last year became the first Chief of his name since the senior line expired in 1682.

Hugh had a particular expertise in Scottish records and was the agent behind tracing the true claimants to the Earldom of Annandale, the Lordship of Borthwick and a host of other ancient and long dormant chiefships and feudal titles.  For the last 20 years, he has been one of the preferred genealogists recommended by the Clan Hay Society.

His knowledge, however, extended far beyond our shores.  One of his highest profile clients was the late President Ronald Reagan, whose family tree he traced through many generations in rural Ireland.  Proof of the present Earl of Annandale's claim to the title was eventually found in German records as a result of Lord Annandale's ancestor serving as a mercenary there, and his work on the disputed Earldom of Breadalbane, ongoing at the time of his death, took him to Hungary.

A major contributor to many of the genealogical reference books, he was a long time editor of Burke's Peerage, leaving a valuable legacy to researchers of the future in the volume of Burke's entitled, "The Kingdom in Scotland" where his encyclopaedic knowledge of Scottish families was brought to bear.

We send our sympathy to his widow Pamela, son Christopher and the whole family.