A Guide To Scottish Ancestry

This is collection of resources designed to assist those wishing to trace their Scottish Ancestry.

scotish ancestryWe are very lucky in Scotland to have a fairly good system of records for those wishing to trace their family histories. Compulsory
registration of Births, Deaths and Marriages was introduced in 1855 and these records are accessible and held by the General Register Office for Scotland. The GRO(S) also hold parish registers before that (the earliest is Errol in Perthshire which goes back to 1553, but most are rather later than this). The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (the Mormons), who have a religious duty to trace their ancestors, have copied the parish records and included them in their databases. Local libraries in Scotland may also hold copies, as will the family history societies, a number of which are listed below. The last major source of information is the GENIUK project which collects information and resources on British (including Scottish) and Irish genealogy.

Scottish Genealogy

The Scottish component of the UK and Ireland Genealogy Pages

Details of Scottish Places, Regions and Maps (maps now include detailed maps from UK Ordnance Survey)

General Register Office (Scotland) responsible for the registration of births, deaths and marriages (An alphabetic index of their information is also available).

The National Library for Scotland

Paul McDonald’s Scottish Genealogy site

David Wills’ Indexes of Parishes, Births, Deaths and Marriages

Genealogical database for the Eastern Townships of Quebec where many immigrant Scots settled

An excellent and complete Index to Scottish Genealogy Resources

U.S. Scots – substantial resource for the Scottish-American Community

Genealogy Links More links to Irish records, including cemeteries, passenger lists, county records of births, marriages, etc.

Electric Scotland–Website with links to Helen Payne Odom Library in Moultrie, GA

Scots Origins–offers free services including enhanced International Genealogical Index (IGI) searching and extensive place name searching, in addition to the Sighting service which allows access to original Scottish documents from 1700 to 1990.

Names, Clans & Tartans

What is a Clan?

A Clan is an extended family or group of families in Highland Scotland. The term ‘clan’ is not used for families in Lowland Scotland.

What is a Sept?

A Sept is a subsidiary family that has decided to join a clan. This may have occurred for reasons of family relationship, protection from enemies, financial gain, food or improved status. Such families generally came from the same geographical areas as the clan they joined.

What do most clan-names begin with Mac?

The prefix “Mac” means “son of” in Gaelic. Until the 16th Century, individuals in Gaelic-speaking Scotland were given only one name and thus were referred to as Duncan, son of Donald. It was only later that this convention was used to form a formal surname. Mac is variously rendered as Mc or M’. The suggestion that names beginning “Mc” are Irish and “Mac” are Scottish is wrong. Within Gaelic, “Nic” is the female equivalent of “Mac”, that is “daughter of”. Thus a female’s surname with the surname MacGovan, will appear in Gaelic as Nic Ghobhain, not Mac Ghobhain. However, Nic never appears in the anglicised version of a surname.

A Listing of Scottish Clans (based in Scotland, extensive but not complete)

Clan Finder – find out about your clan

Genealogy Section of the ‘Gathering of the Clans’, including the Great Hall of the Clans describing scottish clans; their traditions, emblems and tartans

An exhaustive Listing of Clans which forms the “Scottish Clans Usenet FAQ”

The Scottish Military Historical Society

Genealogical Societies & Researchers

The Scottish Genealogy Society

The Scottish Association of Family History Societies (SAFHS)

The Aberdeen & North East Scotland Family History Society

The Dumfries and Galloway Family History Society

The Glasgow & Western Scotland Family History Society

The Lanarkshire Family History Society

The Tay Valley Family History Society

A list of Genealogical Researchers maintained by the General Register Office for Scotland

General Genealogy Resources

The WWW Genealogy Home Page

A list of Genealogy Databases

RootsWeb A series of huge databases which help identify your roots

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