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17 October 2014
Scottish Roots - Searching for your family history in Scotland

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Digging Deeper
Having accessed the records at the main libraries in Scotland, you may need to hunt deeper for the information you need. The same rules of research apply: know what it is you’re trying to find and keep a note of everything.


The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has an International Genealogical Index – IGI that holds information on births, baptisms, christenings and marriages. The records don’t hold death certificates. Their information is based on the Old Parish Records, so it is a good start, but only a guide; you should always refer back to original sources.

These are recordings of the details of gravestone information. Not everyone could afford a gravestone. Many stones have fallen or are weathered, and are now unreadable. The Scottish Genealogy Society has the largest collection of Scottish monumental inscriptions in the world. Contact them if you wish to pursue this line of enquiry. Their website is here:

It’s been the responsibility of Government to administer wills and grants since 1858. The Commissary Courts carried out that function from the 16th century to 1858. Indexes can be found in libraries. The index of Wills and testaments is searchable online at and colour digital images can be downloaded for a charge. Don’t assume that only the rich and the gentry left wills. Many ‘ordinary’ people did too. Copies of wills are held by the National Archives of Scotland.

All British Army regiment records are kept in the National Archives at Kew. You will need to have information about the regiment served and when they served in it.

There are many societies throughout Scotland that gather information about their own area: monumental inscriptions, census, books etc. They have very eclectic records, with everything from where a house used to be, to names of people transported for wrong-doings. The Scottish Association of Family History Societies has a list of Scottish, English and Overseas societies. Contact them at:

A similar, UK-wide site:

Local libraries - can be very helpful.
Newspapers - National and worldwide events shaped your forebears' lives. Some were started as early as the late 17th century. You can access these at the National Library of Scotland.
Specialist Magazines – they have some interesting features and articles.
Ecclesiastical Records – Fasti Ecclesiae Scoticanae is a list of ministers from the Established Church of Scotland. You can find this at main libraries. Scottish Catholic Archives are at 16 Drummond Place Edinburgh, EH3 6PL The Jewish Archive Centre can be contacted at 0141 332 4911. Episcopalian Records are held by each individual parish.
CD-ROMs can be useful for people searches, and hold records of surveys, census information and parish records.
Internet Forums – great for getting in touch with people across the world with a similar interest. You may even find a cousin you didn’t know about by visiting a genealogical forum.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Web sites.

Lots of people mistake baptismal date for birth date. The baptism is more likely to be registered in older records – so don’t get caught out.
If you’re looking for the death certificate of two married people – look for the woman’s first. The computer at Register House contains a married/maiden cross referencing facility which makes life a lot easier if you are searching for a common name.

Unless otherwise stated images copyright © SCRAN.
Getting Started
Further Steps
Initial Sources
Digging Deeper

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