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Scottish Genealogy

Scotland keeps good records, which allows for tracing Scottish family histories.

There are books and magazines that highlight the Scottish tradition. [©Jupiter Images, 2010]
©Jupiter Images, 2010
There are books and magazines that highlight the Scottish tradition.

Scottish Genealogy

Compiling a family history can be a rewarding experience no matter where the family originates from, and tracking down Scottish genealogy history is no different. With technology becoming increasingly advanced, researching Scottish genealogy no longer requires researchers to travel across the ocean to dig up information. Nevertheless, there is a chance certain problems may arise, and it is best for researchers to know this beforehand so they can be prepared.

Tracing People Who Lived in Scotland

According to the Department of Geography at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland has a very good system of records for those wanting to trace their family histories. With some information dating back to 1553, family researchers can locate parish registries by contacting the General Register Office for Scotland.

Another helpful, but perhaps less well-known, source of information is the Church of Latter-day Saints. Because its members have a religious duty to trace their ancestors, the church has compiled names of more than 400 million people in its database, mostly parish records kept in the United Kingdom. If a researcher is seeking information on people dating before 1837, there is a chance that some Scottish parish records ended up there.

Tracing People Who Emigrated

Just because an ancestor emigrated from another country to Scotland does not mean the researcher has hit a dead end. The Public Record Office of the United Kingdom provides information on any immigrant that came there since 1789. Family Search, the official website of the Church of Latter-day Saints, provides links to numerous helpful websites that can assist in researching Scottish genealogy.

For ancestors who emigrated from Scotland to the United States, several books offer detailed histories, such as "Passenger and Immigration Lists Index" by William P. Filby, which provides lists of Scottish-American immigrants. "The Scottish Genealogist" is a magazine sent out to members of the Scottish Genealogy Society. Researchers can join online and receive this quarterly magazine to stay abreast of any information that might be relevant to their search.

Research Recommendations

According to ScotlandsPeople, the official government source of genealogical data for all of Scotland, earlier documents may be in Scots English or even Gaelic. Scots English contains many phrases or words that are unfamiliar to people outside of Scotland. In addition, the legal language is different from that found in the American English system, which might be confusing when researchers look for information.

Researcher should utilize Internet resources. Sites that offer Scottish genealogy information oftentimes have forums where researchers can post questions they may have. Sometimes people run into a dead end in their search; these forums can help guide the researcher to a site he or she did not already consider or, better yet, someone on the site may have the answer.

For those family researchers who do not have the time or would rather have someone else do the work for them, there are Scottish genealogy research companies that can dig up family histories. If this is the option chosen, it is best for the researcher to use a company actually based in Scotland; this can provide easier access to records and historical data.

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