Sorbie Gathering 2016

UK - Larkhall, Lanarkshire, Scotland - 9th July


UK family members were joined by visitors from far and wide.

The 6th UK Sorbie gathering was held on Saturday 9th July 2016 at The Radstone Hotel, Larkhall and the first one for 6 years. It proved to be a great a success with 42 persons in attendance. UK cousins were also joined on the day by 10 travelling family members from USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. It was testament indeed of the bond between Sorbie relatives that they had made such long trips to be in attendance.

 The get-together was many months in the planning and it was a tall order to surpass previous events but it was generally agreed to be one of the best ever. In addition we were delighted to meet a large number of new Sorbie relatives that have only contacted us in recent years. The venue was especially relevant in that it is equidistant between Stonehouse and Larkhall and lies in the heartland where most Sorbies originated and many still live. Moreover the hotel is virtually next to the former site of Swinhill Colliery were many of our ancestors toiled underground in the coal mines and a number unfortunately perished.

Muriel Sorbie makes her welcoming speech.

The assembled Sorbie cousins were welcomed by an opening address from Muriel Sorbie who also gave updates on the Sorbie tartan. We then went around the room as each of the attendees then introduced themselves and gave their home towns.

Following this, Andy Potts took the floor to present a summary of the recent work carried out on the Sorbie Family tree and website. This is often referred to as the 'Sorbie Quest'. The tree has expanded in size from 3,500 individuals at the first gathering in 2001 to an amazing 15,000 at the present day. A huge amount of work has been carried out and it is a fantastic repository of family information.

 It also represents an important local and social history document as it includes links with many important Lanarkshire families and the wider area of Southern Scotland. Quality is the crucial factor, not quantity, with only documented and proven data included. More and more information is being made available all the time due to advances with the Internet, so as time goes on we are continuing to piece the jigsaw together. As new family members come forward it is becoming easier and easier to fit them into the family story.

Oldest and Youngest attendees - George Baker aged 91 and Katherine Kennedy aged 9 months.

Next came a Buffet Lunch and refreshments. This was the main focus of the day as it allowed family members to chat and get to know each other and exchange stories and reminiscences. In addition we had laptops in the room featuring the Sorbie tree which allowed cousins to view their individual lineage and make connections with other people in attendance. Recent events could be added to the tree there and then as this is a living document and it is important it keeps moving forward. Following this the attendees ventured outside for the traditional Sorbie group photo.

In addition items of Sorbie merchandise were sold including the tartan ties, scarves, baseball caps, tammy hats plus keyrings and coasters, As always Sorbie commemorative bookmarks designed by Donald McLeod were available and these have developed into a tradition at all 6 UK gatherings, becoming somewhat of a collectors item.

Andy Potts (foreground) with L:R Mitch Sorbie, Bart Baker, Ron Sorbie, Tim Healey, Jim Clark and Tom Sorbie.

We were now in the main part of the day and once again Muriel stepped up to make a presentation on the 'Argentinian Connection'. This is a fascinating subject as a number of our Scottish forebears emigrated to Argentina, especially Patagonia in the mid 1800's looking for work and a new life.

This was a newly emerging nation and one of the pioneers was Francis Sorbie who was born in Paisley, Renfrewshire around 1827, the son of James Sorbie and Margaret Crockett. He left for South America and the next time we find him in the records was 1855 when he married Mary Carigall in Buenos Aires, the capital city. She was born in Argentina but was of Irish Ancestry. Francis (or 'Francisco' as he became known) and Mary went onto have 9 children including Mary Sorbie, born June 1859 who married James McRevie 15th August 1877. There are now over 200 descendants from this union, mostly living in and around Delores, Argentina about 90km from Buenos Aires. We are in touch with one of them called Mauricio Calabrese, a Government Administrator and his son born in April 2014 was named Martin McRevie Sorbie Calabrese in honour of their Scottish connection.

Andy then talked about Mitchell Sorbie, one of the 6 family members sadly killed in WW1. Born in Boghall Street, Stonehouse in June 1894, he was the son of Daniel Sorbie and Jane Pollock. The family later moved to Camnethan Street in the village. After volunteering for the army early in the war he left for France on November 2nd 1914 as a private in the 8th Batallion Royal Scots and served several terms in the trenches. 

Mitchell Sorbie's rescued WW1 Medals.

After tragically being shot in the chest Mitchell was evacuated from the battlefield in Flanders, Belgium. He died of his wounds 14 days later on 23rd April 1915 in Military Hospital No.13 Boulogne and is buried in Boulogne Eastern Cemetery. The sad news was transmitted to his parents, now living in Larkhall and a tribute to him appeared in the local newspaper.


 When Mitchell's medals went onto the market in 2013, the Sorbie Family e-group was alerted by a collector, Stephen Sorbie and we grouped together to buy them. Mitchell is the great uncle of e-group members and friends: Jean (McMillan) McKay, Janice (Richardson) Murray, Ian Sorbie and Tom 'Mitchell' Sorbie. Mitch was presented with the medals almost 100 years to the day from his forebear's death. He kindly brought them along to the gathering to show the cousins. We were all impressed with their excellent condition and how well they were presented. A sad story indeed but a happy ending in that the Sorbie family came together to celebrate Mitchell's memory and preserve his legacy.


Robert Freel from Stonehouse Heritage Group makes his presentation.

The final talk of the afternoon was by Robert Freel of the Stonehouse Heritage Group who made an informative presentation on local Lanarkshire history and the steps being taken by the Heritage Group to document and preserve the headstones in St. Ninian's old cemetery. They making use of the latest scientific advancements to conduct a Geo-Physics survey involving ground-based physical sensing techniques, usually associated with archaeological mapping and imaging. This has recently uncovered some medieval burial stones and important artefacts. The gathering were impressed with the extent of Robert's knowledge and the positive steps being taken by the Heritage Group which is a very active organisation.



Some great traditional Scots music.


To round things off, the gathering was treated to some superb entertainment by a local musical group featuring Ian Baker and Willie Scanlon on guitar and Danny Hannay on Accordion. The latter two have very strong links with the Sorbie Family and have attended previous Gatherings. They certainly got the toes tapping and played some traditional old Scots songs along with more modern tunes. The gathering were impressed with their musical prowess and they follow in a great tradition of very  accomplished local musicians.

Finally Muriel Sorbie gave the "Vote of Thanks" to close the 6th U.K. gathering. In an eloquent speech she thanked all those who had helped to make it such a great success including those who had travelled from far and wide to attend, especially the overseas visitors. It had been a really enjoyable day with lots of new friendships forged. Everyone also agreed it had been one of our best ever venues with top-class facilities and superb hospitality.

We expect another get-together to take place in a couple of years as we enter our second decade of successful UK Sorbie gatherings, the first being in 2001.

See you at the 7th Gathering!



Bart Barker from North Carolina, USA (left) and Trevor Frank.

L:R Margaret Hannay, Linda Cameron, Janis Kinney.

Maggie Gilfillan was presented with flowers on the occasion of her 50th birthday.

L:R Jetta Sorbie, Mitch Sorbie, Tim Healey of New York, USA.

L:R Isabel Sorbie,Tom Sorbie and Elaine Sorbie.

Ron and Michelle Sorbie from New South Wales, Australia. Looking resplendent in the Sorbie family tartan.

L:R Avril Potts, Jim Clark of New Jersey, USA, Scott Burns of California, USA and Andy Potts.

Tom 'Tamaur' Sorbie has been a stalwart of Sorbie Gatherings.

Muriel Sorbie and Ron Sorbie.

Mother and daughter; Melanie Sorbie and Katherine Kennedy.



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