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Scottish Ancestry

Do you have Scottish roots? If so, there are two Web sites you won't want to miss: nationwide in scope and covering Scotland's most valuable sources.


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Do you have Scottish roots? If so, there are two Web sites you won't want to miss: Scotland's People, at and Scottish Documents, at Nationwide in scope and covering Scotland's most valuable sources • parish registers, civil registration, censuses and probate records • these databases greatly facilitate finding Scottish ancestors.

Many Scottish emigrants set sail for America. One migration that consisted mostly of Scots-Irish immigrants arrived after staying in Ireland for a number of generations. They often settled in the backcountry regions on the edge of civilization, in what later became the United States of America. Social historians have written many excellent books about their unique culture, such as David Hackett Fischer's Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America. Fischer calls one of the four groups discussed the "borderers." His 175-page expository on these people, who American genealogists refer to as the Scotch-Irish, shows how former residents of northern England, Scotland and Ireland, transported their culture from the Old World to the New World.

The General Register Office for Scotland generated the Web site Scotland's People. This Web site documents baptisms and marriages from the Presbyterian Church, Scotland's state religion, from the 1500s through the mid-19th century. Picking up in 1855, when civil registration records began, this Web site will help you find the birth, marriage and death certificates of your ancestors through the early 20th century. The Web site also has indexes to the 1881, 1891, and 1901 censuses. Scotland's People is a pay-per-view site, but, will speed up the research process.

Alternative computerized methods to access some of the same information also exist. Although none of these means cover the sources as comprehensibly as Scotland's People, they are more economical. The Presbyterian Church records are available in a free database at LDS Family History Centers. This compilation, called Scottish Church Records, is accessible through the DOS Version of Family Search. Civil registration births and marriages from 1855 through 1875 are indexed on the International Genealogical Index at

The other Web site, Scottish Documents, created by the Scottish Archive Network, houses scanned images of over 520,000 Scottish probate records. Their index provides quick reference to wills dating from 1500 to 1901. You can search the index for free, and for a nominal fee, have a digital copy of your ancestors sent to you. These organizations have harnessed the Internet's power to provide genealogists with nationwide indexes to find Scottish ancestors. In the British Isles, the Scots lead the pack over the English, Welsh, and Irish in indexing their historical documents.

Source Information: GenWeekly, New Providence, NJ, USA: Genealogy Today LLC, 2004.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Genealogy Today LLC.

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