In some of the worst weather that November can throw at Edinburgh, a mass of bodies wearing Wishart tartan scuttled towards the sedate premises of the Royal Scots Club, rapidly taking over the normally douce bar. Yes, it was time for the annual Wishart Lunch, a sadder occasion this year and renamed the Jack Wishart Memorial Lunch in honour of our usual Master of Ceremonies, Jack, whom most of you will know died suddenly in September. Old friends reconnected over a drink, exchanging happy memories of Jack, with many a chuckle and welcoming the six new visitors to the event, most of whom had made a lengthy trip to Edinburgh in memory of all the help Jack had given them with their family tree.
Jack’s widow, Skip (a family nickname short for ‘skipper’) came along as our guest and after some sad greetings she was soon in good form, able to cap every one of our anecdotes about Jack with one of her own. She laughed as she told us of Jack’s predilection for Snicker’s Bars and how many she found in his jacket pockets and filing boxes. And on the latter, it was not hard to work out that while she was in charge on many aspects of their life, she had no control over the proliferation of index cards and boxes plus assorted files that constituted Jack’s genealogical works, eventually filing one room. She expressed delight that Scott Wishart was going to take on Jack’s legacy – otherwise the card index boxes would have been out with the rubbish.
We were soon called for lunch in the wood panelled, portrait decked Scott Lounge, name after one of the Scottish Legal Luminaries. Our own Scott, switching roles from newly appointed Wishart genealogist to his day job as photographer, arranged us for the group photograph. The menu had the usual tasty selection of wholesome Scottish food, this time lamb and fish with an unusual addition of a pear and blue cheese (Scottish naturally) tart.
Before the final course, David Wishart, one of Jack’s oldest friends and colleagues introduced Scott to talk about his friendship and long association with Jack. First Scott told us of another friendship of his, with a Native American who disparaged Scott for knowing little about his family beyond his grandparents – ‘how can you know yourself if you don’t know where you came from’. This was sufficient to get Scott asking questions and contacting Jack; they soon became friends, constantly sharing new discoveries about Wisharts. Jack had had his eye on Scott for several years as the most suitable inheritor of the chalice of Wishart Genealogist – and fortunately Scott saw it as a golden one. Jack was especially pleased with the symmetry of the relationship, as it had been a Scott Wishart, whom Jack had met many years ago, who gave Jack the incentive to start his own tree – and we all know where that led! So it was especially appropriate that our own Scott asked us all to be upstanding to drink a toast to Jack Wishart, to whom many Wisharts round the world, have reason to be grateful. As Scott said, there are few people you meet who change your life; Jack has changed the lives of many. We were all visibly moved as Scott read some of the tributes paid to Jack by members of the extended Wishart family. He was a truly special person.
After that, if anything the noise level increased. It was obvious that everybody in the room had found much more in common than the Wishart surname; it was a great meeting of friends and there was a resolution afterwards that this was a tradition, started by Jack that we should try to maintain in his memory. So we hope to see more of you next year.
Jean Wishart Wilson (WIS0020)