Here's how to research your Scottish family tree and find out who your great grandfather really was! Also listed are some examples of genealogy sites where research has already produced some impressive resultes.
An introduction to help those who are about to embark on researching their family tree via the Net - written by the author of Rampant Scotland.
New Register House in Edinburgh holds all the "hatches, matches and despatches" for the whole of Scotland. The births, marriages and deaths are on a computerised database and copies of all the church parish records have been microfilmed and are available there for research. A fully searchable on-line index of these records is available at ScotlandsPeople>. The records available are the indexes of births/baptisms and banns/marriages from 1553 to 1902, births from 1553-1904, and marriages from 1553 to 1854 (all based on the surviving Old Parish Registers and Statutory records), indexes to the Statutory Registers of deaths for 1855 to 1929 and an index to census records for 1881, 1891 and 1901 (with images of actual pages for 1891 and 1901). One additional year of births/deaths/marriage index data is added per annum. See the Web site for current charges and dates.
The franchise for this data used to be held by Scottish Origins and they still offering a service providing much of the information hitherto available, plus a new "Sighting" service giving access to original documents.
The General Register Office not only provides up to date statistics about births, marriages, divorce and deaths and Census Records> but also the most frequently used Popular Forenames> in Scotland and also a report on the most frequently found Surnames in Scotland over the last 140 years.
This Web site has been created by the Scottish Archive Network and it offers free access to a fully searchable index of over 520,000 Scottish wills and testaments dating from 1500 to 1901. This is a fantastic resource for genealogists and historians. While the newspaper reports on the site majored on the wills of famous people like Rob Roy MacGregor and Robert Louis Stevenson, it will be the wills of our own ancestors which will be of greatest interest to most people of Scots descent. Of course, it has to be borne in mind that only those with sufficient property thought it worthwhile to make a last will and testament. Visitors to the site can purchase high quality colour digital images of related documents for only £5 each (around $8 US).
Part of the UK and Ireland Genealogy> project, there is a vast amount of information including an extensive description of (non-Web) genealogical archives and bibliography of publications on Scottish family history, plus libraries, cemeteries, census information, gazetteers, maps, newspapers etc. Each of the Scottish counties (as structured before the 1975 local government reorganisation destroyed centuries of the traditional counties) is looked after by an expert in that county; the information held is therefore not identical but reflects what is available in a given area. The individual counties are:
Provides help for genealogical researchers investigating Scotland to find local resource and reference information and the Scotland GenWeb is a part of the UKGenWeb Project. As with GENUKI: Scotland> (above) each of the former Scottish counties (prior to restructuring in 1975) is allocated to an expert in the individual areas, as follows:
A miscellaneous collection of genealogy information and links for Scotland including Scottish Parish maps (A list of scottish counties linking to the parishes in each county in Scotland plus selected Births, baptisms marriages and deaths and burials data, censuses and a selection of directories & lists including ships & passenger lists.
This is a vast site with over 20,000 genealogy and resource listings including 2,000 surname homepage listings, commercial genealogy products and services and a site search engine - essential on a site as
Cyndi's List of Genealogical Sites on the Internet > has 17,000+ URL's on the subject. There is a specific page dedicated to Scottish Genealogical Links > but really the entire set of pages is worth a thorough investigation for anyone researching their family tree.
One of the most important sources of genealogical information are the Family History Centres operated by the Church of the Latter Day Saints (the Mormons, often referred to in genealogy pages as "LDS"). The microfiche record they have made of all the births and marriages recorded in all the parish records in Scotland is a treasure trove and this site lists the addresses and phone numbers of the locations of the Family History Centres in USA where these records can be viewed. (Copies of the microfiche are available in main libraries in the UK also).
The LDS database is available On Line> and contains 13 million records of births and marriages abstracted from Scottish old parish registers. Also available are similar records for over 400 million people from the UK, USA, Europe, Asia and Japan.
This page gives a good introduction to how to get started in researching your family tree and also has a long list of around 30 sites where further useful information can be found. Many of the links are of particular interest to a North American audience - but with so many people there with Scottish ancestry somewhere in their family tree, that can be a plus.
There are a large number of sites containing detailed lists of passengers on emigrant ships from Europe to most pasrts of the world. Most are not focused on Scotland alone so you you may have to do some digging through this selection:
22 million passengers and ships' crews came through Ellis Island and the Port of New York - many of them Scots. You can search passenger records and even see original manifests with passenger names.
Emigration from Scotland to the Ottawa, Canada area in the 1800's has details of Scots who came to Glengarry County, Ontario and Lanark County, Ontario and also Scottish Settlement on Indian Lands in 1815 in Glengarry County, Ontario, Canada. There is also a link to a Bibliography of Reference Material for "Bytown or Bust" - (History and Genealogy in Eastern Ontario, Canada and Western Quebec, Canada).
This Canadian Virtual War Memorial site contains a registry of information about the graves and memorials of more than 116,000 Canadians and Newfoundlanders who served valiantly and gave their lives for their country. The site also contains digital images of photographs and personal memorabilia about individual Canadians.
Over 600,000 Canadians enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) during the First World War (1914-1918). The CEF database is an index to those personnel files, which are held by the National Archives. To date, over 800,000 images of Attestation papers have been scanned and are being made available on-line - many of them with Scottish connections.
Potentially, this site will provide access to the catalogues of nearly 50 Scottish archives participating in the Network. It will also provide access to the wills of Scots from 1500-1875 as well as a host of other resources for anybody interested in the written history of Scotland. However, as of January 2001, the site is a tantalising glimpse of what is to come.
This site provides free access to the index of over 500,000 Scottish wills and testaments from 1500 to 1901. If you are successful in your search, you can download high quality colour digital images of documents for £5 (five UK pounds) each. The site also contains wills of famous Scots, an index to over 800 occupations and help with handwriting and unusual words.
This is a genealogy portal linking to a large number of free on-line sources of data and information. In addition to links to Scotland-wide genealogy sites, there are sections on local resorces and to Scottish-related sites in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand etc.
Local Centres of Genealogical Information
Scottish Border Family History> This page lists the families referred to (sometimes briefly) in Web page articles on the Scottish Borders.
Borders Family History Society covers primarily the Border counties (Roxburghshire, Berwickshire, Selkirkshire and Peeblesshire) of Scotland, as well as in adjacent counties of England and Scotland. The site includes indexes to publications such as the Gravestones Index and a Family Trees Index.
Tay Valley > Family History Society provides help and assistance to those researching their genealogical history in that area.
Glasgow and West of Scotland> Family History Society has help, advice and links too.
Central Scotland Family History Society> promotes the study of family history in Central Scotland.
Highland Family History Society covers the Highland counties of Caithness, Sutherland, Ross-shire, Inverness-shire, Nairnshire and the northern parishes of Argyle-shire down to the Sound of Mull and partway up Loch Linnhe. Like many other FHS, you can search a Gravestones Index on the site if you are interested in a specific surname.
The North of Scotland is represented by the Aberdeen and North East Scotland Family History Society.> There is also a Fife Family History Society>.
Shetland Family History Society has hints on researching Sheland ancestors, a map of Shetland showing the parishes and links to related sites.
Dunning Parish Historical Society> has assembled a Graveyard Survey - a complete list of inscriptions on the gravestones in St Serf's kirkyard. The first headstones date from 1623.
Caithness Family History Society aims to promote an interest in genealogy and, wherever they can, to help others trace their roots - especially families originating from Caithness.
MacLeod Family Tree contains a large family tree with many names (MacLeod, Mackenzie, Munro, Robertson, Sutherland, Bremner, Manson, Oman, Ross, Swanson, Polson) from places in Caithness and Sutherland including Drumbeg, Stoer, Clashnessie, Brora, Wick, Thurso, Ulbster, Sarclet, Dunbeath. There are also many family photographs you can view.
First Glasgow Directory 1787> is the delightful text of an original 18th century book on Glasgow at that time with descriptions of a large number of the local worthies of the city (the population was said to be only 4,500 at the time of the Reformation).
Hawick Word Book is a PDF book with over 2000 pages and is part of a project to record the words and dialect of Hawick but has expanded to cover many aspects of the area - including family genealogy (over 200 pages on Scott, for example) and places in the area.
And if you want encouragement on how to create a Web page of your family tree then have a look at Irvine Family > pages.
Seallam! is a major Visitor Centre located in Taobh Tuath (Northton) at the southern end of the Isle of Harris. Seallam! is also the home of Co Leis Thu? the Genealogy Research Centre for the Western Isles. Virtually every household in the Outer Hebrides in the last 200 years has been researched, and a resource bank of over 30,000 family tree sheets has been gathered, together with details of many families who emigrated to Canada, USA, Australia etc. It is usually possible to chart families back to the generation born cI750-80 - and frequently much farther. A professional service to genealogists and researchers is usually available to help with more complex research.
Elsewhere, there are also useful Web pages on Traditional Scottish Weddings >
MacEachain, McCaughan McKaughan, McCoin> is a huge genealogy site for this name.
Alan Drummie has created a large Web site covering his researches into the surname Drimmie/Drummie - the earliest reference is in 759AD in Ireland, with the first record in Scotland in 1309.
Kennedy One-Name Study is a research project which collects genealogical and related information covering all occurrences of Kennedy (with or without variants) worldwide. It contains over 35,000 individual genealogical Kennedy records.
Strathnairn Heritage Society> covers historical and cultural and genealogical information relating to the parishes in the valley of the Nairn River in eastern Inverness-shire.
Here are the origins of over a 100 forenames or first names which are found in Scotland today. Nearly all the names in the "Top 100" names of babies born and registered during 1999 are here. They are often used in other parts of the world too, so you may find your own name here, whether or not you have Scottish roots.
A 250-page site devoted to heraldry (the study of coats of arms) in all forms and in all places. There is a A Note on Scots Heraldry> and an article on The Lord Lyon and his Jurisdiction> which contains documents and analysis on to the judicial powers of Lord Lyon in Scotland, in particular relating to nobility, chiefships of clans, and precedence. There is also a lengthy narrative in the French section on Scots Members of the French Nobility> including Douglas, Darnley, Hamilton, Kennedy and Montgomery.
Genealogical charts for the kings and queens of Great Britain. While many of the details relate to the monarchs after the Union of the Crowns in 1603, it is possible to track back from James VI and Mary Queen of Scots through King James V to King James I of Scotland. Scottish Kings > goes further back by listing the Kings of Scotland from 843 to 1153.
The SGS is a charity which exists to serve everyone who has an interest in Scottish genealogy. The site has information on the history and constitution of the Society, how to find their library and family history centre in Edinburgh plus news, events and an on-line shop.
The Professional Genealogists in Scotland> contains a list of qualified researchers.
Association of Professional Genealogists> provides a useful guide entitled "So You're Going to Hire a Professional Genealogist?">
Scotland's Greatest Story is a professional family history research & genealogical problem solving service which uses many private records (including church records) not available online. Services include site visits to photograph ancestral homes and relevant gravestones; tracing articles and publications written by or about your ancestors; providing an understanding of the times in which they lived; relatives tracing - searching for historic descendants in Scotland or current relatives within Scotland and the rest of the UK.
The Scots Ancestry Research Society> is a non-profit making organisation which carries out work in Scotland to help researchers trace their family tree.
Scots Family> is Scotland's complete ancestor service which enlivens family trees with historical photos and maps. The website offers a glossary of old occupations, and a Parish listing. Ancestor searches are guaranteed successful or no payment is due.
Scots Roots Research Scots Roots Research have more than 15 yearsí experience of researching family history and are based near Edinburgh and have easy access to the information available from the records held there. They can help you discover your familyís past and start to build your Scottish family tree by doing the research for you and set it all out in an easy to follow Scottish family history report.
Scottish Ancestor aims to help you discover who your ancestors were and where they lived, worked and are buried. They are professional genealogists based in the Kingdom of Fife but also cover Kinross, Perth, Tayside (and occasionally Galloway). Services include visiting places you are planning to visit if you are planning a trip to your ancestral home. That way, you don't waste time by going to places where there are no traces left.
Scottish Genealogy Research is based in Galashiels in the Scottish Borders within easy access to the genealogy and historical records of Scotland in Edinburgh. They have a comprehensive range of services and no set scale of charges as they deal with each enquiry on an individual basis.
Scottish Roots is a professional Scottish Genealogy service that will undertake ancestral research into your Scottish family history. They can conduct genealogical research for you, using birth, death and marriage certificates and other historical records of your Scottish forebears.
Scottish Ancestors has been researching for over 20 years into Scottish Ancestry. They are based in Central Scotland and conduct all their research out of New Register House in Edinburgh. They offer different packages to suit specific needs and budgets to bring your families past alive.
Family Roots in Scotland provides Scottish family history research on a Pay-As-You-Go basis to help anyone with Scots ancestry trace their Family Tree. Based in Edinburgh, they were established in 2004. While thir work is concentrated on Scottish ancestry, if your Family Tree identifies ancestors in England, Wales or Ireland, they can provide assistance there as well. They can discuss any requirements you may have without any obligation.
Debrett Ancestry Research began as part of Debrettís Peerage and Baronetage the definitive genealogical guide to Britainís titled families (now in its 147th imprint). That work has been broadened by a separate company, Debrett Ancestry Research, which has now researched more than 7000 families from all walks of life and from all over the world. They aim to provide a high-quality, professional research service for anyone with British ancestry.
Cornelia Bush specialises in research, analysis and reporting for people of English and Scottish ancestry. Searches are conducted in American and British record repositories as well as in her personal collection. Clients include both individuals and organizations. If you are joining a lineage society, she can prepare the (electronic) forms for you.
Graham Maxwell Ancestry can help you with your genealogy from small to large projects on any surname. They have a collection of old and new photos from all over Scotland which is designed to help you see what the past was like and how beautiful the country of your ancestors really is. Other resources include a valuation roll of property and a varied collection of letters, historical dinner cards, historical newspapers such as the Chambers Historical Journal. There are also census transcriptions with index which are sold by parish and in book form. Most areas in southern Scotland are covered including 1811, 1831, 1841, 1851, and 1861. The website also includes a free census search facility covering Dumfriesshire (1851) and the Scottish Borders (1841-1861). And a project of mapping the census has begun - linking to both Google maps and the National library of Scotlandís website.
Ar Turas> is a small team, based in Scotland's capital city Edinburgh, providing independent research on Scotland and the Scots. They can help you trace your ancestry and chart your family tree; present a social and cultural history of specific times and areas;; supply tourist itineraries to help the visitor find the real Scotland; and deliver detailed research on particular projects for individuals and companies.
Argyll Ancestors has spent ten years researching genealogical roots from a base in Loch Awe, in the heart of Argyll. From a wealth of knowledge about parish records and other tools like the 'Mort Cloth' Register, you can get an insight into the world that your ancestors were living in.
Caithness Roots is the Web site of Sara Jayne Donaldson Genealogical Research who is based in Thurso and specialises in families with a Caithness heritage - such as Sinclair, Gunn, Sutherland, Dunnet, Swanson, Bain, or Mackay to name but a few.
Your Scottish Roots can list your ancestors back to at least your Great Grandparents, if they were born, married or died in Scotland, from only the briefest of details provided by you about, say, your mother. On the other hand, you might want them to go as far back as they can....they'll do this too.
Family Research at lineages.co.uk has a series of searchable, short articles on a number of genealogy-related subjects.
YourScottishFamilyTree helps you to find out who your Scottish ancestors are, where they came from and what they did for a living. The genealogical research covers statutory civil registers, Old Parish Registers prior to 1855, Census Returns from 1841 to 1901 while Monumental Inscriptions, Wills and Testaments, Kirk session records etc may also be consulted for further research.
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