Community / Quest to trace family after 85-year-old Shetland letter donated to Devon bookshop

A WOMAN at the other end of the country is looking for help in tracing the family roots behind a letter written by a Shetlander to an acquaintance in 1935 which was donated to the charity bookshop she works at in South Devon.

Vicky Armstrong said the letter was sent by a James M Johnson of New House, Voe.

The letter drew her interest as she and her partner are coincidently thinking about moving to Shetland once they find work.

“We get all sorts of interesting bits ‘n’ bobs donated, including dusty boxes of old documents and letters,” Vicky said. “Wonderful shreds of human history.

“As my partner and I are planning to move to Shetland this year – as soon as we can find work – the address of one letter jumped right out at me as soon as I opened one such dusty cardboard box.

Vicky uploaded pictures of the letter on social media in the hope of tracing Johnson’s family and sharing it with them.


She also took to looking up genealogy sites and believes that the letter writer may have been born in Muckle Roe in 1875, served on the navy’s H.M.S. Virginian and received a distinguished service medal.

“It is a wonderful letter which made me smile, then laugh, when reading it,” Vicky said.

“I would like to have met James M. Johnson, he sounds a real Shetland gentleman.”

More information on the letter can be found on Facebook. Vicky can also be contacted on vickyarmstrong27@yahoo.co.uk.

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