The ScotlandShop offices are an immensely enjoyable place to work, we get to look at wonderful fabrics, learn about clans and listen to the radio as much as we like. Unfortunately it is not Radio 4 that my colleagues want to listen to but then you can’t win them all, I suppose. Anyway, the clan that I have been learning about this week is Clan Thompson (to P or not to P is a question for a later date) and I must say they are a pretty cool bunch.
The Origins of Clan Thompson
Clan Thompson cannot, unfortunately, claim a single ancestor responsible for the birth of the clan – unfortunate for me as I need to try and find something worth mentioning about the clan (fear not, we will persevere whether it is interesting or not!). In fact, Thompson is a patronymic surname, meaning that it is derived from the name of the person’s father. For example, let’s imagine a man named John. John has a son called Tom. Tom would be named Tom Johnson. Now let us suppose Tom in turn has a son named Mike, Mike’s surname, if we were to follow the patronymic system, would be Thompson. Patronymics are all fine a dandy but they don’t lead to a single progenitor and make nailing down a family’s origin point. That being said, there is a large population of Thompsons in the Scottish Borders where the family name has long been associated with the Reivers. The Reivers were a group of bandits who robbed, killed and raided on both sides of the border, more or less without discrimination. Although Reivers were probably terrifying at the time, just like Jesse James in the USA and Ned Kelly in Australia, Reivers have taken on the mantel of folk heroes and are widely celebrated throughout the Scottish Borders. The Thompson family was notorious among the Reivers and were officially put on the black list for first raiding and then razing a town called Grange. Whatever your opinion of the Reivers, it must be admitted, being descended from the baddest of the bad, is a pretty cool claim to have.
What’s cooler than being cool?
I mentioned above that we always have the radio on in Tartan Towers, which is great for those who like it but less great if you are trying to concentrate on writing. Anyway, just as I sat down to write this blog, the one you’re reading right now as it happens, my concentration was broken by OutKast’s seminal hit; Hey Ya! In the aforementioned song, a question is posed to the listener, “What’s cooler than being cool?” the answer, of course, is “Ice Cool.” The mere mention of the word ice as I was trying to concentrate on Clan Thompson brought to mind a museum I had seen once in Maine, USA – that being the Thompson Ice House Museum near South Bristol. The Ice House Museum is a replica of the original Ice House that was erected by Asa Thompson in order to harvest the ice
that formed on the adjacent lake. This was back in the early nineteenth century when ice was, thanks to Frederic Tudor, becoming the coolest thing in town (no need to groan so loudly, I’m trying my best.) Although electric refrigeration soon put the ice harvesters out of business, Asa Thompson’s family continued to run the concern right into the 20th
century before finally setting up the Ice House Museum.
The Coolest Thompson of all
Now, to continue the line of questioning started by OutKast, I have my own question –I’ll probably answer it myself so as not to leave you all in suspense. What’s cooler than ice cool? And, what’s cooler than that? What’s cooler than that? It appears that I have reverted to my five year old self. The question I have is; what is the coldest possible temperature? The answer is, as you all know, minus 273.15 degrees Celsius, better known as absolute zero or zero Kelvin. The Kelvin scale of temperature is named in honour of, who I would consider to be the coolest Thompson of all (Emma Thompson aside). Lord Kelvin, born William Thomson – I know he doesn’t have a P but I really don’t care – was one of the best regarded
scientists of his day. His work on thermodynamics helped to predict the correct value for absolute zero as well as establish the second law of thermodynamics - that concludes the science portion of this blog. Thomson also; worked with the teamlaying the first trans-Atlantic cables, developed a more accurate compass for maritime use, invented a current balance (for measuring electrical current), came up with a tide predicting machine and became president of the Royal Society.
There we go then, I hope you found some of that interesting, I know I did. However, if you are a Thompson or indeed a Thomson (or any other variation thereof) and feel you have some better stories to tell about your clan and its members, please don’t hesitate to get in touch - Jack