Welcome to Scottish Genealogy Tips And Tidbits

A wee bit of info to help you in your journey to discover your Scottish Ancestors and maybe even crack a brick wall or two!

Monday, 23 October 2017

Using Findmypast for Scottish Genealogy Research

While ScotlandsPeople is the necessary site for Old Parish and Civil Registers, Findmypast can help you fill in the details of your ancestor’s life.

Military Records – one of the best resources on Findmypast for Scottish research. After the Union of the Crowns in 1707, everyone who was enlisted was enlisted in the British Army, even if they fought for a Highland Regiment. The good news here is that unlike the National Records of Scotland, the National Archives in London have partnered with Findmypast and made their records available for people researching their family history. In the military records, you get the entire record. If, like my great grandfather, your soldier was a serial enlister, you will get their attestation and discharge papers. If your soldier was a career military man, you will get oodles more.

Newspapers – another fabulous resource is the British Newspaper Archives. The real gem here is that the BNA is not limited to national newspapers, but also includes regional and town newspapers which, of course, hold a wealth of social history news.

Ship’s Lists – another treat from the TNA. These lists are “people leaving the UK”  but will give you the passenger manifest including the name of the passenger, their residence, their age, where they were destined, the ship’s name and where they actually entered North America. For example, my grandfather was on the Cameronian, destined for New York, first docked at Halifax and disembarked there.  

Paternity Decrees – these are listed under “Institutions”  and are a result of the incredible work that have been done by ScottishIndexes who have partnered with Findmypast to have their transcriptions available online. I was able to find the father of my illegitimate great aunt thanks to this database and the transcription which gives you the name and address of the pursuer (in this case, the mother), the name and address of the defender (the father), the date of birth of the child and the sex of the child. I can then order the original record if I wish.

Mental Health Institution Admission Registers – again thanks to the tireless work of the Maxwells at ScottishIndexes, these transcripts provide you with the name, age, sex, d.o.b., residence, occupation, and the year of admission as well as the name of the institution.

Prison Registers – more work from the Maxwells, this transcription gives you the name, sex, age, birth date, occupation, crime and name of prison.

Linlithgow Poorhouse Records – this is a result of the great work of the West Lothian Family History Society and includes Admission registers, death and discharge registers, lunatic registers and discharges, and the poorhouse roll of the sick.

Catholic Heritage Archives – this relatively new collection includes baptism, marriage, burial and congregational records from all eight of Scotland's Roman Catholic Dioceses. These are: St Andrews & Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Argyll & the Isles (where the Catholic faith was strong well into the 19th century), Dunkeld, Galloway, Glasgow, Motherwell and Paisley.

PERSI – what a wealth of information for those with Scottish heritage. There are thousands of records that you can search or browse to learn more about the life and times of your Scottish ancestor. These include family histories, family history society journals and newsletters and magazines. To find these gems, simply enter “Scotland” in the “where” field and “family history” into the “what else” field.

Enjoy getting to know your Scottish ancestors through the resources of Findmypast!

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Understanding Scottish Surnames

Spelling was not consistent until dictionaries made it standard in the 1800s. Until this time, spelling was quite fluid and tended to be according to the enumerator or registrar. Often this was done in a manner similar to phonetic spelling. I could not find the marriage for my Henry Fowler anywhere. I was beginning to think that perhaps the couple had had an irregular marriage. Then I decided to use a wildcard search for Henry and lo and behold I found him - listed as Henry FULLER. As soon as I saw the certificate, I realized why I hadn't found him sooner. Henry would have been asked his surname. In his thick Border brogue, Henry would have responded "Fooler" And that became written as FULLER.

It is not uncommon to find that your ancestor's surname changed from Clerke, to Clarke and then to Clark. All three sound the same in Scotland (clark) and yet the spelling has evolved over time. Knowing this will help to ensure you don't rule out people who might be your ancestor, but who you have ignored based on the (mis)spelling of the surname.

As a standard, surnames in Scotland weren't adopted by the common man until about the 1600s. Prior to that, people were known by patrynomics (Donald, son of John or Donald John's son), by physical trait (John the Red - Red John - for someone who might have been a redhead, by location (Thomas by the burn or Thomas Burn) or by occupation (David the miller or David Miller). Once surnames became common practice, many of these former descriptors were adopted as surnames. Others, particularly the Highlanders or border clans, took on the surname of the clan chief, family head or even the landowner for the estate they lived or worked on. For this reason, not everyone named Wallace, for example, is related to William Wallace. Nor is every Mc/MacDonald related to the clan chief.

People often have questions about the Mc vs Mac surnames. Some understand that one is Irish and the other is Scottish, while others understand that one is Catholic while the other is Protestant. In reality, they are interchangeable. Both Mc and Mac are the anglicized spelling of the Gaelic M' or M'hic. M'hic or M' for short, means "son of" in Gaelic. This has been transcribed over the centuries as Mc or Mac, depending on the transcriber and their understanding of how the prefix is spelled. So whether your ancestors were Mc or Mac, don't discount the other spelling in the event you might also be discounting your ancestor and his/her documents!

Saturday, 21 October 2017

84th Regiment of Foot: Royal Highland Emigrants

From 1775-1784, 2000 Scots highlanders were recruited to the 84th Regiment of Foot (Royal Highland Emigrants)  which defended the lands in the 13 colonies and then fought on the side of the British government in the American Revolutionary War. These men had military experience in the Seven Years War. The 84th Regiment of Foot was divided into two companies. The muster and pay lists for both companies can be found here: 

After the Revolutionary War, the 84th Regiment of Foot disbanded and about half of the men settled in Nova Scotia while the other half settled in Eastern Ontario where they were given land grants for remaining loyal to the Crown. They were given land grants of between 100 acres (for privates) and 500 acres (for Officers).  To search the indexes for these early land grants, consult:

Friday, 20 October 2017

Scottish Post Office Directories

Post office directories are the equivalent of City Directories. These are a terrific resource for following your ancestors between census periods. Not everyone was recorded. Since there was a fee to be included, many of those included had some degree of stature - clergy, educators, doctors, professionals, merchants, etc.

A recent addition to the website are the Post Office Directory Maps. Four hundred new street maps of Scottish towns held within Post Office Directories have been digitized and uploaded to the maps website. These are excellent resources for family and local history. These are quite detailed, providing street names, location of public buildings such as churches, shops and schools, as well as railways, cemeteries and open green space. 

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Researching Jacobite Ancestors

The Jacobites believed that being King was a God given right and passed on through heredity and were opposed to parliamentary interference with the line of succession to the throne. They saw this interference as being illegal. People were expected to swear allegiance to their King and his authority. Jacobites wouldn't swear allegiance since William was not a direct descendant of James, while Charles Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie) was. Hoping to reinstate the Stuart regime, the Jacobites rose in rebellion on a number of occasions, notably in 1715 and in 1745.

Beginning in 1716, Jacobites were rounded up, imprisoned and subsequently transported to the Americas. Approximately 1,500 Jacobite prisoners were exiled to the American Plantations. Since Jacobites were charged with Treason they were tried before the High Court. Documents pertaining to the Jacobites, for genealogical purposes, are Royal Warrants, Letters, and a variety of letters.

While there are some records contained within the High Court records at the National Archives in Scotland, the primary repository is the National Archives in London.
There are also registers of ships that were used for transportation. PDF listings of Jacobite prisoners for various regions of Scotland can be found here: http://www.jacobites.net/lists.html

Hugh Tornabene, a volunteer for the Immigrant Ships Transcribers Guild has uncovered the
passenger lists for the ships that were used to transport the Jacobites. He has transcribed the lists for the 10 ships that arrived in the Americas. 

There are another 8 ships that went to the Caribbean (Barbados and the Leeward Islands). Here is the website to view the transcriptions of the 10 ships (there are 13 lists, with two of the ships having made the voyage more than once) that Hugh has transcribed: 

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

From the Western Isles to Canada

Following the Reformation, most Scots had converted to Presbyterian while the Highlands and Islands remained predominantly Catholic. The landowners who had converted expected their tenants to do the same and those that didn’t weren’t allowed to practice their religion. Some were even removed for not converting. 

This led to a group of Scots from the Outer Hebrides (Uist) to be sent to Cape Breton in what is now Boisedale, a group from Glenfinnan near Fort William to be sent to what is now Prince Edward Island and who are now known as the Glenaladale Settlers and a group from Loch Broom near Oban being sent to Pictou. These were the settlers from the Hector. Interestingly, the clues of their homeland are given in the names of their new countries.

In their new lands, they were not only allowed to practice their faith, but also speak their language (Gaelic).

·        In 1774, the Lord Justice Clerk tried to gain an understanding of the extent of emigration from the Highlands and instructed Sheriffs from the area to provide him with lists of those from their jurisdiction that had emigrated. These lists should be within the collections of the National Records of Scotland.

·      Archives Ontario have several letters relating to the Glengarry Settlement including letters sent to family back home encouraging them to come to Canada.

·       The PEI Historical Society has just released a very genealogically comprehensive book on the Glenalladale Settlers. 

     Archives for Glenfinnan are with the Highland Archives https://www.highlifehighland.com/archives-service/

·       For records pertaining to Lochboisdale, contact the Seallam! Centre on Lewis http://www.tasglann.org.uk/en

In July 1803, three ships, the Dykes, the Polly, and the Oughton sailed to Canada with eight hundred former crofters from the Western Isles and headed to Prince Edward Island where Lord Selkirk had managed to receive a land grant. The Polly carried passengers from Skye. The Dykes brought passengers from Mull. The Oughton carried passengers from Uist. Further Selkirk Settlers from Colonsay, Oronsay and Tiree arrived in 1806.

·         Lord Selkirk’s papers are available online at: http://www.canadiana.ca/
·         The Archives of Ontario also have a number of letters pertaining to Lord Selkirk and his   settlers. 

Passenger List reconstruction for ship Polly:

Passenger List reconstruction for ship Dykes:

Passenger List reconstruction for ship Oughton:

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Did Your Scottish Ancestor Spend Time in Nova Scotia?

One of the best resources for learning the social history of your ancestors, the things that add details to their life stories, are newspapers. 

The Nova Scotia archives has a number of old newspapers available on their website, including Gaelic newspapers! The Gaelic newspapers date back to the early 1920s while other newspapers on their website date back to 1769. 

Here's the link to have a look and see if you can learn more about your Scottish ancestor who might have spent time in Nova Scotia:


Monday, 16 October 2017

If Your Scottish Ancestor Worked for the Hudson's Bay Company

Scots first started coming to Canada in large numbers starting in 1788 when the Hudson’s Bay Company ships brought Orkney men back to Canada to work in their settlement at York Factory, some 250 miles south of Churchill. In 1791, the HBC appointed local merchant, David Geddes to be their recruiting officer in Stromness where their ships stopped for supplies and water. 

By 1799, clearly three quarters of the men employed by the HBC were from Orkney. This connection between Orkney and the HBC carried on into the early 1900s. 

By the early 1800s, HBC was also recruiting in Lewis and Harris. Many Scotsmen married Cree women. Most from Orkney left their wives and families behind when they returned to Scotland, where the Hebrideans took their wives back and Cree descendants are still evident in the Lewis and Harris even today.

·        The HBC archives are on deposit at the Manitoba archives. In addition, the Orkney Archives in Kirkwall have records pertaining to the Orcadians who worked for HBC, including the contract between the HBC and the recruiters.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

If Your Scottish Ancestor Was a Covenanter

If your ancestor arrived in Massachusetts in the 1650s, it is possible that they were Covenanters. Many thousands of covenanters were executed. In your In the event that your covenanter ancestor made it to trial, rather than being executed on the spot, the records of their trial will also be in the records of the High Court, available from the National Records of Scotland.  

Following conviction, the covenanter would be imprisoned and then sent to the colonies of North America. The court papers will provide the detail of the crime (preaching in public), the names of any witnesses and then the details of their sentence.

Both Ancestry and FindMyPast have searchable databases for Covenanters.

A great resource for reading detailed information about the individual covenanters is the website Reformation History. This website is run by the Reformed Presbyterian Church and is a wonderful resource for honouring the Scottish Covenanters. 

Saturday, 14 October 2017

If Your Scottish Ancestor Was Accused of Witchcraft

Witchcraft trials in Scotland were tried in the High Court . The Survey of Scottish Witchcraft, under a grant, has taken the trials maintained by the University of Edinburgh Archives, and has created an online, searchable database of Scottish. In this database, you will find:

·         The accused's name
·         Start  and end dates of the trial
·         "Characterisation" (eg: "Demonic")
·         Who the accused was implicated by

·         Any notes pertaining to the circumstances - whether tried as an individual, a group such as the North Berwick witch hunt (1590-92) or the Paisley accusations of 1699

·        The accusation - including details of time, place, other present and what the witch was purported to have done that was supernatural.  This may include healing illnesses, transferring illness from an animal to a human, causing natural disasters etc.

·         Appearance of Non-natural beings - whether the person claimed to have seen spirits who encouraged their witch craft. The type of spirit - person, animal etc

·         Whether they were known to have attended a "witches meeting" and whether said meeting included food and drink, dancing or the presence of the devil.

·         Whether the accused was then imprisoned and if so where.

Here is the link to the searchable database: http://www.shca.ed.ac.uk/Research/witches/

You can search by name, trial date, location or others involved in the trial. Your results will be returned and then you click on the hyperlink. From there you will get a box with the basic information (similar to an index card). Be sure to click on the hyperlinks within the index-card style box to get to the actual information regarding the trial(s).

Witch's Stone marks the spot where the last woman
 in Scotland was hanged for witchcraft

Friday, 13 October 2017

SAFHS Conference 2018 is OPEN for Registration!

The annual conference of the Scottish Association of Family History Societies is being held in Fife in 2018 and is hosted by the Fife Family History Association. 

The conference is being held at
 Rothes Hall in Glenrothes, 
Fife on April 21, 2018
 from 10 am until 4:30 pm

The topic for the 2018 conference is "Was Your Ancestor a Convict" and the speakers for the day are:
  • Andrew Campbell
  • Emma Maxwell
  • Ken Nisbet
  • Bruce Durie

The cost of the conference is just £20 or you can save £5 if you book before January 3, 2018. 

In addition to the Conference, there will be a Family History Fair where there will be stands with representatives of a number of the Family History Societies in Scotland. This is open to attend if you don't want to attend the conference and the fee for just the Family History Fair is just £2. The Fair is a GREAT way to get some ideas about what you should be doing next in your research, to speak to the volunteers who are expert in their region and who have a wealth of knowledge and information that is hard to beat. 

All in all, Conference 2018 promises to be another very successful day of genealogy learning and networking. 

Here is the link for more information: https://safhs2018.fifefhs.org/

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Project GB1900 Needs Help!

The team at GB1900 needs people to help complete the project. They are working to preserve the place names on old ordnance maps and have been running a crowdsourcing project to get this much needed work done. 

The project is wrapping up (January 8th, 2018). All of the place names have been transcribed, but volunteers are needed to verify the transcriptions. In an effort to get this moving, the team have put together a fun little incentive. Here's the info from their latest newsletter:

We need to finish up GB1900 and we realise that it is getting harder and harder to find new “pins” to create. We also know that the current leader board no longer provides the right incentive, as we now mainly need confirmations and most of you can only improve your ranking by creating new pins.

We can’t change the leader board within GB1900, and want to go on using it to recognise the contributors who have made the greatest long term contribution to the project. However, we are adding a separate system to reward those who do most in these final months:

These final months will be a kind of treasure hunt, searching out the last few names on the maps, so it is appropriate we pay you in Doubloons. Each week we will pay out one MILLION Doubloons.

Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5009186

Half of those Doubloons will be paid for doing confirmations, and half for new pins. Each week they will be divided up between all volunteers active that week according to how many of each kind of task you have done. It is already much harder to find new names, so the amount we pay for each one will be greater — but we pay you for a new pin only when it is confirmed.

As the weeks go by, both kinds of task will get harder, so the amount we pay for each one will go up. We would not be surprised if in December we pay out the whole weekly amount for a single new pin.

We are back-dating this system to the 1st of September, when we announced that the project would be winding up. These are the numbers of new pins and confirmations for each week since, and the resulting payments. 

We recognise that as piracy has been stamped out on the Spanish Main, Doubloons are no longer legal tender. However, the five contributors ending up with the most Doubloons will instead receive a bespoke, site-centred printed copy of the Six Inch map of their choice, a warm welcome and behind the scenes tour to view selected map treasures, and a free cup of tea if they can make their way to either of the National Libraries to receive it. We will do the same for the five contributors who are topping the existing leader board.

Doubloons, tea and a behind the scenes tour! What more could a genealogist ask for? 

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Family History Month - New Records from ScotlandsPeople

News came yesterday that ScotlandsPeople have released the 1935 valuation rolls. Any new record set is of value, and should be applauded, however, when you consider the lead up to this point, the release was not only incredibly anti-climactic, but also incredibly disappointing.

Most of the diaspora have Scottish ancestors who left the country anywhere from 1650 - 1870. Records from the more modern period (20th century) are fairly useless when it comes to genealogical research. The memory is still fresh and there will most likely be family who can provide the information or who have passed the information along before they themselves passed on.

Of more benefit (and therefore more likely to draw people to the site) would be the long awaited Kirk Session records, High Court records for those whose ancestors were transported, Sheriff Court records to determine paternity. Much more genealogically useful to the diaspora than a modern tax record. 

It's disheartening that ScotlandsPeople was once a leader in providing online documentation for the purposes of genealogical research and now they are on the verge of going the way of the Dodo bird. While there was some incredible hopefulness that Scotland was going to be able to compete with larger online databases that is quickly waning and it is looking more like we are going to be wishing Scotland would partner up with the larger databases much the way the National Archives in London have. 

For those who want to have a gander regardless, here is the link: https://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Don't Forget to Check the Wiki!

Once you have exhausted all of the online resources for Scottish research, return to the FamilySearch website and check the Wiki

Here you can click on the parish where your ancestors lived and see what records are available for the parish as well as where to find them. These include parish records, civil records, poor records, court records, census records, church records, newspapers and more. 

The Wiki has lots of resources, including webinars which will help you to learn more about your Scottish ancestors. 

Don't forget to check out the right hand side of the page to see information on different records sets that are helpful for researching your Scottish ancestors. 

Monday, 9 October 2017

Family History Month: Know Your Parishes!

There are 33 counties in Scotland and each one is subdivided into parishes. Before civil registration, each parish Kirk was responsible for the people within the parish. The Kirk looked after people's spiritual needs, their morals and guided them on the path to Godly living. The Kirk was tasked with poor relief prior to 1845, and the Kirk was tasked with the burial of the dead. So, knowing which parish to look in for the records is important if you want to find the information you are seeking.

After 1845, the poor were looked after by the local council. The council boundaries roughly follow the parish boundaries, although there have been changes over the years, After 1855, births, marriages and deaths were registered at the local council office.

You need to know not only the parish that your ancestor lived in, but the neighbouring parishes as well. A birth, marriage or death may have been registered in the neighbouring district, depending on when parish boundaries changed.  

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Using FamilySearch to Find Your British Isles Ancestors - Webinar

October 11, 2017, 7 pm ET

Peggy Clemens Lauritzen will be showing us all of the resources that are available on the FamilySearch website for those of us who are researching our British Isles ancestors.

Peggy Clemens Lauritzen, AG, was involved in genealogy before she was even born. The daughter of avid genealogists, she was spending time in courthouses and cemeteries while other children were playing on swings and going to the beach. The love of her family’s history has never left her. With her experience serving as a Family History Director, she frequently speaks at genealogical societies, workshops, seminars, and webinars where she loves bringing genealogy to life. Some of those would include The Ohio Genealogical Society, The Ohio State University, Brigham Young University, and many other state and local genealogy societies. She has recently completed several Legacy QuickGuides on Appalachia, and is a well-known webinar presenter. She is also an instructor at Ancestry Academy, GRIP, and Family Tree University. 

Saturday, 7 October 2017

If Your Scottish Ancestor Was Transported

Prisoners who were sentenced to be transported were always tried in the High Court. The High Court is in Edinburgh, but would also travel a circuit to the major cities in Scotland. High Court trials were before judge and jury. In the case of the High Court, the jury consisted of 15 men. 

The High Court was responsible for major crimes such as rape, murder or treason.  As well, anyone who was an habitual criminal, a repeat offender at the lower court level, would be tried before the High Court even though their crimes might not be as serious as those normally heard by the High Court. Because of the serious overcrowding of prisons, habitual criminals tended to be sentenced to a period of transportation. This sentence would range from 7 - 14 years transportation to the colonies, which of course, also included Australia. 

The court records will tell you:

  •         Name of the accused - full name and any aliases 
  •          Nature of crime committed
  •         Place and date of crime
  •          Place and date of first appearance by the accused
  •          Name  of victim(s)
  •          Verdict
  •      Sentence
The National Records of Scotland also holds microfilm files of the transportation registers from 1787 through to 1870. These are chronologically arranged by date of the departure of the convict ship. You will get the name of the convict, their crime, their sentence and in which colony the convict was to carry out his sentence.      

Friday, 6 October 2017

Using Newspapers for Genealogy Research

I love old newspapers! The smell, the feel, the wording. All of it. But best of all, I like old newspapers when they can help me fill in the details about the lives of my ancestors. Like this one:

Glasgow Herald, Oct 19, 1872

This article refers to the mining accident that killed my 3x great grandfather and his only son. I knew from the death record that William had died as the result of an accident and that the death had occurred at Greenfield Colliery, but without the details in the newspaper article, I was unaware that William and Andrew were at the end of their shift, that they were almost at the surface, or that they died because the lift they were on broke. A true tragedy. Even sadder is that there was a third person who died in the accident. It was his first day on the job and he had said it was to be his last as mining wasn't the life for him. Sadly, he never had the chance to try any other line of work. He was dead before he got to the surface of the mine. 

The best place to get online access to newspapers for Scottish research is the British Newspaper Archive. And if you have a premium subscription to Findmypast, access to the BNA is included in the subscription!

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Family History Month: Using Maps for Scottish Research

Scotland and Its Shires 1745
reproduced with permission of the NLS
One of my favourite websites for family history is the National Library of Scotland's maps website. The National Library of Scotland has over 2.5 million maps in their collections. And they have the best online collection of digital maps bar none. Their collections include:

  • estate maps
  • town plans and maps
  • military maps
  • county and country maps

Estate maps can show the farms your ancestors lived and worked on. We can see quarries, coal mines, forests, lochs, farm fields and location of the buildings belonging to the estate.

Town plans and maps show us how densely populated the town or village was and often will have labels on the buildings. These labels may determine the type of building, or they may be the name of the building's owner or proprietor. 

The older, John Wood maps from 1820 (under the tab for town plans and views) show tremendous detail, often including the names of the inhabitants of homes in the town. 

And, best of all, with their geo-referencing feature, you can overlay maps and see how the area has changed over time - and in many instances can see that very little has changed over time! 

Here's the link: http://maps.nls.uk/

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Monumental Inscriptions and Burial Records

If you are looking for monumental inscriptions for your Scottish ancestor, look no further than Scottish Monumental Inscriptions. Here you can access a PDF with transcriptions of the headstones around Scotland and for a small additional fee, you can also get a CD with headstone photographs. 

Bearing in mind that many Scots could not afford a headstone, you can access burial and cremation records for some Scottish cemeteries on DeceasedOnline. DeceasedOnline's database is for the whole of the UK, and is not exclusive to Scotland, which is also helpful for those with ancestors from Ireland or England as well. 

To access the burial records for your local area, contact: 

The local council archives in the area where your ancestor lived
The local Family History Society (for MIs) for the area where your ancestor lived
The local crematorium for the area where your ancestor lived

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Scottish Paternity Cases and Asylum Record Indexes ONLINE

If your Scottish ancestor was from the Borders and was illegitimate, there is a probability that the father was taken to court for support, in which case, there will be a Sheriff Court Record. Scottish Indexes have done a tremendous job of indexing the cases and making the information available online. 

If your Scottish ancestor was from the Borders and was in an asylum, there are documents available at the National Records of Scotland with regards to their time in the asylum. If you are uncertain about their mental health, Scottish Indexes is another terrific resource for indexed Asylum Records. 

The initial search on Scottish Indexes is FREE. Simply enter your ancestors name and a list of all of the records that have been indexed will come up in the results. These results will include:

  • 1841-1861 census records
  • Mental Health records
  • Prison records
  • Mental Health records
  • Sheriff Court Paternity cases
  • Register of Deeds
  • Register of Sasines
  • Birth/Baptisms
  • Death/Burial
  • Marriage/Banns

And the good news is that if a record for your ancestor does exist, the Maxwells can carry out the research for you as well (for a fee, of course!)

Have a look and see what online treasures are available for your Scottish ancestor. 


Monday, 2 October 2017

Edinburgh Gazette Archives

<!-- HTML Credit Code for Can Stock Photo --> <a href="http://www.canstockphoto.ca">(c) Can Stock Photo / Razvodovska</a>

The Edinburgh Gazette is the official public record for Scotland. It contains information of businesses including partnerships and insolvencies. It also includes lists of military honours and awards, obituaries of significant people, people who have been awarded the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service. 

The archives date from 1699. Have a look! Your ancestor just might be listed!


Sunday, 1 October 2017

October is Family History Month!

October is Family History Month. What a great way to start a new project, learn a new research strategy, try a new record set or get that story written. 

I will be speaking at the Great Canadian Genealogy Summit in Halifax this month. The Summit is being held at the Lord Nelson Hotel from October 13 - 15. Come join us! Today is the LAST DAY to register, so jump on board. 

Here's the link:  https://cangensummit.ca/last-chance-to-register/

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Are Large Genealogy Conferences Going the Way of Microfiche?

There has been quite a bit of chatter on Facebook the last few days about the low attendance at the recent FGS Conference. I recall the same sort of chatter last May following the NGS Conference. While low attendance is certainly a concern for the exhibitors and vendors, I have to wonder if large conferences are going the way of microfiche.

People get so much online - even the opportunity to network. So much of this connection is now done  through FaceBook groups. In terms of the learning, webinars and online courses are more convenient and less costly for learners because there are no travel or hotel costs, and that also means that the travel time, time away from work or family is significantly diminished as well.

Certainly RootsTech seems to still be successful in attracting large numbers, but RootsTech skews the bigger picture. Rootstech has large numbers because of the free passes that are given to Ambassadors to give away. We all see the blogs and posts for weeks with free passes to be claimed. RootsTech has large numbers because of the Family Day on Saturday when busloads of people show up. All for free. Those people aren't traveling long distances. Those people aren't paying registration fees. Those people aren't paying for accommodation or meals. Those people aren’t really interested in attending a genealogy conference. The classes they take are all geared for the LDS and when they get to the Exhibition Hall, they are not interested in small vendors or in spending money. They are there to get access to the free databases from the large corporations and to grab whatever freebies the other exhibitors and vendors are giving away. A number of smaller businesses have stated that they won’t be returning to RootsTech because RootsTech is not small-business friendly and the smaller vendors and exhibitors are not even coming close to breaking even on their investment to attend RootsTech. 

The smaller, more regional conferences seem to continue to attract decent numbers. What’s the difference? Fewer people traveling long distances? Less frequency (some are every other year rather than every year)? Lower expectations from the vendors and the attendees, perhaps? Organizers being more grateful for any level of support, including small business vendors or society exhibitors?

I recently hosted a very successful (yes, small) conference for the Scottish Diaspora. The theme of this year’s conference was “Engaging Our Youth”  In recognizing that we are all getting older, have worked tirelessly and don’t want all of our years of blood, sweat and tears to be for naught, we need to look at ways to get younger generations as passionate about our organizations as we are. Fair enough.

One woman was quite incensed that their Society's Facebook page’s followers were referring to themselves as members. It was in that moment that I realized that part of what needs to happen is that we need to adjust our thinking. Just as we have gone from thinking that the only way to do genealogy research was by writing letters, scouring microfiche and transcribing directories to being comfortable with researching online databases, we need to readjust our understanding of what constitutes membership. Those people do feel that they belong. That they are members. Even if they haven’t paid a fee or attended a meeting. This group is their tribe. We can’t overlook that.

Similarly, we need to change the way we look at genealogy conferences. The interest in taking several days away from our lives, traveling long distances, paying for accommodation and meals is waning. We can’t overlook that. 

Thursday, 1 June 2017

FREE Online Course From Strathclyde University

Genealogy: Researching Your Family Tree Massive Open Online Course (MOOC)

Once again, Strathclyde University will be offering a FREE 6-week online course with our partner FutureLearn which will help you develop an understanding of basic genealogical techniques. 

You’ll consider how to effectively find and analyse sources and explore the potential of DNA testing. We help you add historical context to your family history and discuss how to record and communicate research findings clearly. There is no particular focus on one country’s records so that the course is useful to people worldwide. 

The course runs from the 3rd of July 2017, 

go to https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/genealogy to register your interest in upcoming course runs.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Canada Gets Separate Search Facility on Findmypast!

There was a lot of complaining last year when Canadian documents were lumped in with American documents leading the search results to return documents that weren't relevant to the search for Canadian records. The good news is that this has changed! You can now search Canadian and US records separately. However, not all results are strictly Canadian. 

So, it looks like we are one step closer to having relevant results returned when we are looking for ancestors in CANADA. 

Give it a try: Findmypast

Monday, 22 May 2017

The University of Strathclyde’s Genealogical Studies Programme by Distance Learning

The University of Strathclyde’s Genealogical Studies Programme by Distance Learning

The online Genealogical Studies programme represents a major advance in the process of academic certification of Genealogy and related studies. This programme was the first in the field to place the various genealogical disciplines within a rigorous academic framework while carrying credit at a postgraduate level from a UK university. The Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma and MSc are awarded at SCQF Level 11 (this is the Scottish master’s degree level). The Programme is now in its 10th year and has over 325 alumni located across the world.

What are the aims, objectives and course content of the programme?

We feel that all genealogists and researchers in archives must acquire a common body of knowledge and a standard of practice in order to work effectively.  Irrespective of the particular environment the student will be entering (for example, as a professional genealogist, to work at archives or libraries or for personal interest), the principles and practices of genealogical and archival research must be fully understood in order to be effectively applied, and common standards adhered to (e.g. levels of “proof”, recording and reporting, citations and referencing).

Thus the programme provides a thorough grounding in the theory and practice of genealogical research. Our main focus is on students gaining expertise in searching, recording and presenting results.

The Programme is broken into 3 steps which together form the total MSc degree:
·         The Postgraduate Certificate step deals primarily with English and Scottish records with an introduction to Irish records. The Certificate also provides a firm grounding in genealogical practice, genetic genealogy, heraldry and palaeography (the study of handwriting). The Certificate is where most students begin. Direct entry to PG Diploma is possible but requires the student to hold an equivalent of our PG Certificate.

·         The Postgraduate Diploma step extends the geographical focus and adds American, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand, British Empire, Jewish, European and more advanced Irish sources. A series of written etudes on such topics as a house history and a client study brings a more academic slant to the Diploma level which is capped by the submission of a 5,000 word research project.

·         The part time MSc step requires student to complete a research dissertation (12,000-16,000 words) on a topic chosen by the student with input from tutors.

Programme Delivery
The Programme can be taken part or full time or in a modular version:
       PG Certificate is available part time over 1-year which requires around 20 hrs per week; this 1-year version starts in October. The modular version runs over 2 years and requires around 14 hours per week; modules can be started in October, January or April.
       PG Diploma is available part time over 1-year which requires around 20 hrs per week; this 1-year version starts in October. The modular version runs over 2 years and requires around 14 hours per week; modules can be started in October and March.
       MSc level by dissertation is part time over 1-year and hours vary depending on the student and research project. The part time MSc begins in October with the 12,000-16,000 word dissertation due in late June.
This means the part time programme takes 3-5 years to complete an MSc.
We also offer a full time MSc which combines the materials from the PG Certificate, Diploma and is capped by the dissertation of 12,000-16,000 words.

Learning and Teaching
       The programme is delivered entirely online on the University’s virtual learning environment.
       Teaching materials include written lectures and multimedia presentations along with discussion forums and chat sessions.
       Students are assigned a tutor who provides feedback and support.
       There are no exams; assessment is largely practical in nature with academic research projects on the PG Diploma and MSc levels.

Student IT requirements
You’ll need:
      Access to a reliable computer – PC or PC compatible from home with a good Internet connection. Students can use a Mac but we don’t provide support.
      The ability to run applications such as Adobe Connect, Adobe Reader and a Media Player
      Ability to subscribe to certain online databases (though we normally arrange some free access for PG Cert students).
      Willingness to use genealogical software; Family Tree Maker is the course standard.

Entry requirements
       For the part time courses, normally we require an undergraduate degree (the area/field does not matter) or similar evidence of study skills, however non-standard educational or professional qualifications will be considered. Training through work could very well qualify.
       Some experience in genealogical (or other relevant) research is required. We look for a range of sources used and a level of comfort with communicating results.
       For the fulltime MSc, an undergraduate degree in any field is required along with some experience in genealogical research. This version is quite intensive and we have found that students without the experience of degree level study are at a real disadvantage.

For more information on the Programme

·         Visit our webpage at: http://www.strath.ac.uk/studywithus/centreforlifelonglearning/genealogy/ where we have FAQs and course timetables.
·         E-mail us at: scosh@strath.ac.uk.

Other aspects of the Genealogical Studies Programme

Bannockburn Genetic Genealogy Research Project

Genetic genealogy is becoming more and more important as a tool for genealogical research and the Bannockburn Genetic Genealogy Project aims to show the power of genetic genealogy by revealing living descendants of combatants in the Battle of Bannockburn whose 700th anniversary was marked in 2014. Having identified several male line descendants of combatants using documentary sources, we invited them to take a DNA test, and then attempted to find another individual who closely matched each testee. If successful, this would show that the second individual was descended from the same combatant, despite having no supporting documentary evidence. 

The Project was successful in this regard and you can view the results to date at: http://www.strathgenealogy.org.uk/projects/bannockburn-genetic-genealogy-project/