Your ancestors in Scotland

Your ancestors in Scotland


Scottish records are sometimes much more detailed and impressive than their English counterparts for Family History research. For example registered events include the names of both parents.

Having Scottish ancestors will enable you to explore detailed ancestry records enabling you to build a detailed family tree.



A country in its own right covers the northern part of the United Kingdom. Scotland had appeared as a sovereign state in the middle ages continuing until 1707. Scotland entered into political union with England in this year creating the Kingdom of Great Britain.

The legal system in Scotland has remained independent of England, Wales and Northern Ireland to this day, therefore genealogy records do differ to those of England and Wales. Like England and Wales Scotland is divided into local authority or council divisions (numbering 32). Glasgow is the largest in terms of population, and in terms of area it is the Highlands.

Since the reformation of 1560 the National Church is the Church of Scotland (or Kirk). Protestant in classification it has had a Presbyterian system of government remaining independent from the State. A Parish structure is operated across Scotland. There is a significant Roman-Catholic population centred around Glasgow. This was strengthened by immigration from Ireland in the 19th C. Islam is the largest non-christian religion, with significant populations of Jewish, Hindu and Sikh communities adding to the diversity of this country.


Scotland’s people

The first, key online resource is the impressive website. The homepage gives you an overview of the record sets available for you to explore. These include BMD records and Parish Records:

  • Baptism, banns, marriage and burial records from 1553 – 1854 plus some Catholic Records (1703-1908)
  • Birth, marriage and death 1855-2012
  • Wills 1513-1925
  • Census 1841-1911

Other Parish registers for Churches such as the Free Church of Scotland and the United Presbyterian Church are available at the National Records of Scotland website ( For other denominations you may have to search the local archive or university archives, the website:

Remember for Scotland the statutory registration of birth, marriage and death started in Jan 1855, much later than England.

From 1564 to the 1830s the probate (or confirmation for Scottish records) of a person’s estate are on the website.

Like England the Census for Scotland started in 1801, but for research purposes 1841 is the first, useful census. You can also find transcripts on and

You can visit the ScotlandsPeople Centre in Edinburgh to research the records.


Other records

For tax records, atlases and maps check out The website states you can: ‘Search across three national databases to access historical resources relating to places throughout Scotland’.

For maps, directories and more check out the National Library of Scotland at

Which Scottish Family History Society covers the area you are interested in? You can check out the Scottish Association of Family History Societies ( or contact the Scottish Genealogy Society (

Research ancestors in other countries




New Zealand




Family Tree Magazine, 2016
Wikipeadia, accessed 2018


Robert Parker is a Genealogist and Trainer, based in Kent. He delivers courses, talks and research services for those interested in tracing their ancestors. See for further details. Contact Robert to discuss your requirements without obligation. What stories might your ancestors tell?

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