word of caution...
You simply cannot do Scottish genealogy
and family history from Ancestry.com, FamilySearch, FindMyPast
and all the other well know commercial genealogy websites. They
just don't have the necessary records, and what they do have is
often "user-submitted" without sources or associated documents.
However, do not despair - Scotland has an
unparalleled set of records, in terms of coverage and
accessibility online and physically.
This official Scottish Government site has most of the records
the genealogist will need, including:
banns and Burials (Church of Scotland) from the mid-1500s to
Some Catholic records 1703-1908
Statutory (Civil) Births,
Marriages and Deaths 1855-2017 (images downloadable up to
(Births) 100 years ago, (Marriages) 75 years and (Deaths) 50
Wills and Testaments - over
611,000 from 1513 to 1925
Censuses, every 10 years from
Coats of Arms registered or
(essentially, Heads of Households) in 10-year intervals from
1885 to 1935
Searching is free, downloads cost a small amount.
Land and tax records, and in many cases maps and photographs,
concerning places and the people who lived in them - the list is
growing all the time, but at present includes:
Historical Tax Rolls
Ordnance Survey Name Books for
each county in Scotland
Ordnance Survey maps from the
mid-1800s plus maps and plans of counties, parishes, cities,
towns, villages, farms, roads, canals, harbours, churches,
school, public building, private houses, mines and quarries,
some back as far as the late 1500s
Gazetteers and Atlases
Official Reports, such as the Land
Ownership Commission Reports, 1872-1873 and The Hay Shennan
County and Parish Boundaries, 1892
The National Monuments record
including archaeological reports on historic and prehistoric
Searching and downloads are free.
National Library of Scotland (www.nls.uk)
has an incredible array of digitised records and indexes for
Family History, including: Historical clubs and societies, free
Maps and Directories, Emigration and passenger information,
Local history, Surname histories and biographies, Newspapers,
Gravestone inscriptions, State Papers, Scottish traditional
culture and more.
in particular are worthwhile searching.
Searching and downloads are
Not every record is available online,
and not all are held centrally in Edinburgh. There are many
excellent archives, museums, local history and family history
centres and other resources all over the country ? just waiting
for you to visit. Start at the
Scottish Association of Family
National Records of Scotland (NRS)
Formerly the National Archives for Scotland, this holds
historical records created by businesses, landed estates,
families, churches and other bodies, with online catalogues.
National Register of Archives for
Scotland (NRAS) http://catalogue.nrscotland.gov.uk/nrasregister/welcome.aspx
Catalogues records held in private hands
Scottish Archive Network (SCAN)
Provides a single electronic catalogue to the holdings of more
than 50 Scottish archives.
Court of the Lord Lyon
The statutory body for all things heraldic (Coats of Arms etc.).
Actual records of Arms are at
Scottish Register of Tartans (SRT)
The official online database of tartan designs, established by
law in 2008.
The National Archives (TNA)
Based in Kew, London, the official
archive for the United Kingdom holds many records relating to
Scottish family history, especially military records. Check its
Family History Research Guide.