Where to Find Your Scottish Ancestors – Guest Article by Christine Woodcock, Director of Genealogy Tours of Scotland
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Getting Started Researching Your Scottish Ancestors
First, you need to know where in Scotland your ancestors lived. If you don’t know this, try reaching out to others. You can do this by visiting the following websites.
FamilySearch – FamilySearch is free to use and you can start by researching genealogies already submitted here. Please remember that you still need to check the actual records and documents for yourself to make sure that you are researching the correct family.
GenesReunited – This is by far the best place to connect with others that are researching your same ancestors. Upload your Gedcom and let the smart match filters connect you with others who are researching your ancestors. The connections you make will be distant family members. The subscription for the year is £20.20 ($31.67usd), but you do not need to subscribe to search the records. A basic membership is all you need so that you can be matched up with others and discover where your ancestors lived.
ScotlandsPeople – Once you know what part of Scotland your ancestors were from, you need to visit the this website. ScotlandsPeople is for the records of the General Register (GRO). Their website is the repository for all official documents: birth, marriage, death, census, wills and testaments.
Some tips on using ScotlandsPeople.com:
- ScotlandsPeople is a pay-per-view site, so be prepared. You can purchase 30 credits for £7. It is one credit to view the index and five additional credits to view the image of the record. So, 6 credits to get to that point. Credits are purchased in bundles of 30 and are good for one year from the date of purchase. So, if you purchase 30 credits on May 1, they will last you until April 30 of next year. If in June, you decide to give genealogy up for the summer and have 4 credits left, when you resume your research in September, you can add 30 credits to your existing 4 and you will then have 34 credits for one year from September! (Just like roll-over minutes on a phone plan!)
- Civil Registration didn’t start until 1855. Before that date, you need to look at the Old Parish Registers (OPRs). Find that link on the left hand side of the website and enter the data fields. You will get very little information from the OPRs, so don’t be too disappointed.
- Census & Birth records are accessible to the public after 100 years. On the birth records, you will find the maiden name of the mother, which will help you to build her family tree (again, check for her family on the census returns under her maiden name and you will come up with her siblings as well). You will also find the date and place of marriage for the parents of the new baby. This will give you the information you need to proceed with searching marriage records.
- Marriage Records are accessible after 75 years. On the marriage record, you will find the names for each partner’s parents, the occupation of each partner and for each father. Because of the information available, marriage records will always get you one generation back.
- Death Records are accessible after 50 years. The death records will list the name of the deceased, including her maiden name in the event of a woman’s death, the name of the spouse, the place and cause of death. It will also give you some indication of the length of the illness that caused the death in the event that it was from anything other than old age.
Visiting these websites will give you a good start in researching your Scottish Ancestors. Once you are ready to start adding details to the lives of your ancestors, you can check the records available on other websites like Ancestry (UK) and Findmypast (UK). Here you can search military records, occupation records, education records, passenger lists, passport applications and other documents.
I wish you the best of luck as you start your quest to discover all that you can about your Scottish ancestors, and your own Scottish heritage in the process.
Blogger and lecturer Christine Woodcock is the Director of Genealogy Tours of Scotland
You can also use the following list of additional Scottish ancestry resources from Crestleaf to help aid you in your search.
How to Find Your Scottish Ancestors: Scottish Genealogy Resources
Scottish Census Records
- National Records of Scotland
- 1901 Census Online – Contains multiple links to Scotland records
- GENUKI: Scotland Census
- Census Online: Scotland Census Records
- FreeCEN – UK Census Online
- Scottish Indexes
- Genealogy From Scotland: Scottish Census Records
- Genes Reunited – 1901 England, Wales & Scotland Census
- Scotland’s Census Results Online
- Family History at the Mitchell: Scotland Census
- Census Search – Scotland 1841-1901
- FreeCEN Scotland
Scottish Birth, Marriage & Death Records
- Scotland’s Family – Scottish genealogy portal. Provides a myriad of Scottish family history records
- National Records of Scotland
- The Church of Scotland – Historical Records
- The Families of M’Meanmain
- National Library of Scotland
- The Scottish Genealogy Society – Vital Records
- Births, Deaths and Marriages Exhange for Scotland – Free site with over 90,000 records
- Births, Marriages and Deaths – From the OPR (before 1855) and the Civil Records (after 1855)
- Scottish Records Offices and Archives on the Web – List of records offices and archives arranged alphabetically by county
Scottish Church & Parish Records
- Archdiocese of Glasgow
- UKBMD: Scottish Parish Records – Search by county
- FreeREG – UK Parish Register Indexes
- The GenGuide: Old Parish Registers – Baptisms (OPRs) Scotland
- ScotsFamily: Scottish Parishes List – Search by county and parish
Scottish Military Records & Information
- New Zealand and World War One – A list of members of the NZEF, 1914 – 1918 with a next-of-kin address in Scotland. Contains 1663 names.
- The National Archives – Army and Conscription
- The Scottish Military Research Group
- Scottish Military History Website
- Gov.uk: Military Service Records – Learn how to get your own copy of military service records
- LHSA: The Leigh Roll of Honour – Lists the 2206 officers and men who were killed in the Great War of 1914 – 1918, as well as the 350 who earned special honours
- The Scotland’s War Project
- Officers of the Forfarshire Militia in 1813
- Roll of Commissioned Officers in the Medical Service of the British Army – June 20, 1727 – June 23, 1898
- Roll of Honour – UK war memorial site with listings by county
- Granton War Memorial
Scottish Immigration/Emigration Records & Passenger Lists
- The Statue of Liberty – Ellis Island Foundation, Inc.
- Scotland Mailing Lists – An extensive collection of email lists for Scots emigration.
- Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 – Pier 21 was Canada’s front door for immigrants, troops and evacuees from 1928 – 1971. Website includes photos, immigrant stories and links to other immigration websites all over the world.
- New Zealand History – British and Irish Immigration, 1840 – 1914
- Scotish Strays: The Scottish Marriage Index – Provided by the Anglo-Scottish Family History Society. Contains details of marriages outside Scotland where one partner was from Scotland.
- Scots Abroad: Stories of Scottish Emigration – From the National Library of Scotland
- The Scottish Emigration Database – From the University of Aberdeen
- Scotland’s Family – Passenger Lists and Ships Leaving Scotland
Scottish Surname/Forename Search & Meanings
- UK Surname – The #1 surname listing site
- The ANGUS Surnames List
- Banffshire Surnames List
- Kingdom of Fife Surnames List
- Renfrewshire Surnames List
- Popular Scottish Forenames
Scottish Publications, Archives, Libraries and Collections
- The Scots Magazine – The world’s oldest magazine, first published in 1739
- Scottish Newspapers – An extensive list of Scotland’s newspapers in alphabetical order
- The National Archives of Scotland
- National Library of Scotland
- The Scottish Genealogy Society Library & Family History Centre
- The Scran Trust
- The National Museums of Scotland
- Scottish Collections Network
- FamilySearch: Family History Center Locator – Search for family history centers in Scotland
- Scottish Jewish Archives Centre
Scottish Graveyards & Burial Indexes
- Federation of Family History Societies – National Burial Index
- Scottish Graveyard Projects – List of graveyard trusts and projects across Scotland, the UK and more
- The Scottish Association of Family History Societies: Scottish Burial Grounds – A list of more than 3500 known burial grounds in Scotland
- Find A Grave
Scottish Genealogical & Family History Societies & Associations
- GENUKI: Scottish Family History and Genealogy Societies – Links to societies in Scotland sorted by county
- The Scottish Genealogy Society
- The Scottish Record Society
- The Scottish Association of Family History Societies
- Quaker Family History Society – For those with Quaker ancestors from the British Isles
- Federation of Family History Societies
- The Society of Genealogists – Britain’s premier family history society
- Dunning Parish Historical Society
- Shetland Family History Society
- Central Scotland Family History Society
- Glasgow & West of Scotland Family History Society
- Tay Valley Family History Society
- Borders Family History Society
Other Great Scottish Genealogy Resources
- Genealogy Tours of Scotland – Christine Woodcock is the director of Genealogy Tours of Scotland where she takes people home to research their Scottish heritage
- Scotland’s Greatest Story – Scottish and Northern Irish genealogical research service ran by Chris Patton, professional genealogist and author of The British GENES Blog
- Scottish Post Office Directories – Search 694 directories from 1773 – 1911. Covers 28 of Scotland’s towns and counties.
- Genfindit – Genealogy Records – Provides Scottish, English, Irish, Australian and New Zealand genealogy records and affordable family history research
- GenGateway – Scottish Genealogy
- ScotlandGenWeb Project
- GENUKI: Scotland Genealogy
- Scotland Royalty – Genealogy & Family Trees – Free genealogy and family tree search
- MacLeod Family Tree, MacLeod Genealogy in Caithness & Sutherland
Are we missing some Scottish genealogy resources? Let us know about them in the comments!
This entry was originally posted by Crestleaf in Genealogy Records, Genealogy Resources, Genealogy Tips and tagged family history, genealogy resources, Scottish genealogy on June 2, 2015 by Natalie L.Like what you read? Subscribe to the Genealogists.com blog above and automatically receive our next article.