How to Tell if You Have Scottish Ancestry
How to Trace Scottish Ancestry
If you’re ready to start looking into your ancestry in Scotland, here’s how to get started.
Review Your Family Tree
First things first, take a trip down memory lane and collate everything you have about your family history, including photographs and records. If you haven’t yet started to put together a family tree, you should start now.
Often the best source of information is to talk to your older relatives. They can likely help you out with essential information about some of your relatives, including names, dates of birth and death, marriages and place of birth. Write down all the information you have, starting with yourself and your closest relatives and then working backwards. Websites like Ancestry are a good way to collate all the information you have and find new details.
As well as gathering the basic information about your family members, you’ll also want to find out as many additional details as possible, such as places they lived and their occupations.
Researching in Scotland
Visiting Scotland to conduct your research is a rewarding experience. Visit the places your ancestors once lived and work, and spend some time filling out gaps in your family tree with access to physical records not available online.
The National Records of Scotland and National Library of Scotland, both based in Edinburgh, are great starting points. Both have a wealth of records covering hundreds of years, and friendly, knowledgeable staff who’ll be able to help you locate the information you need.
The National Records of Scotland holds and local libraries are also a fantastic source of information. Most local authorities in Scotland have a local history collection, so if you visit the library where your family members lived, you may find information about them in old newspapers, photographs, and other archive material.
Churches also offer in-depth resources, with extensive records that you might not be able to find elsewhere, from illegitimate births to payments made to poor parish members. Look up the churches in your ancestor’s local area and get in touch with the staff there who’ll be able to dig out kirk session records, photographs, and more for you.
Scottish genealogy forums are a great way to connect with others also searching for their Scottish roots. You can trade information, share where to find specific records, and celebrate filling in pieces of the puzzle you’ve been searching for.
The Scottish Genealogy Society is a good resource, with a Facebook page that’s often updated with items of interest. Family History UK, Family Tree Forum, Roots Chat and Talking Scot are all popular genealogy forums where you can connect with like-minded people on their Scottish ancestry quest.
Get Professional Help and Support
If the thought of doing it all alone is overwhelming, don’t worry! There are plenty of places you can get help with either part or all of the journey including:
- Scotland’s Genealogy for family tree research, document transcription, coat of arms research and house and land history
- Scottish Roots or Scotestry for a standard, deluxe or comprehensive search
- Scottish Genealogy Research for tracing your family tree
- Scottish Genealogy Society for support, advice and further resources