Top Resources for Finding Your Scottish Ancestors

No items found.

Where to Find Your Scottish Ancestors – Guest Article by Christine Woodcock, Director of Genealogy Tours of Scotland

Top Resources for Finding Your Scottish Ancestors

Photo Credit: postaletrice via Compfight cc

For those of us fortunate enough to have ancestors with Scottish heritage, researching is a fairly easy task. Knowing where to look is usually where we get tied up. Following these hints should help.

Remember: If you ever get stuck or have any questions, professional help from the largest research firm in the world is only a phone call (888-509-1130) or email ( away.

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 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.

About Christine:

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

Scottish Birth, Marriage & Death Records

Scottish Church & Parish Records

Scottish Military Records & Information

Scottish Immigration/Emigration Records & Passenger Lists

Scottish Surname/Forename Search & Meanings

Scottish Publications, Archives, Libraries and Collections

Scottish Graveyards & Burial Indexes

Scottish Genealogical & Family History Societies & Associations

Other Great Scottish Genealogy Resources

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 blog above and automatically receive our next article.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Written by


June 10, 2015
Wesley is the founder of

Additional ARTICLES