For information on Scottish family history publications, look in the appropriate sections on this page, or look in the appropriate county pages for publications for particular areas. Bookshops selling them include Scottish Genealogy Society.
There are many books which might be useful here, but some include:
The Scottish Nation: or the surnames, families, literature, honours and biographical history of the people of Scotland by William Anderson, published in 3 volumes between 1866 and 1877.
A Biographical Dictionary of Eminent Scotsmen by Robert Chambers, first published in 1835 at London.
Chambers Scottish Biographical Dictionary, edited by Rosemary Goring, and published at Edinburgh by Chambers in 1992 (468 pages)
Dictionary of National Biography, published since 1885 and also on CD-ROM. The latest edition, the Oxford DNB published 2004 is available online. Searches are free, detail biographies can be obtained by paying, but many libraries have subscriptions which can often be used by library card holders from their home computers.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission commemorates the 1,700,000 men and women of the Commonwealth forces who died in the two world wars. Their cemeteries, burial plots and memorials are a lasting tribute to those who died in some 154 countries across the world. Details of Commonwealth war dead are recorded so that graves or names on memorials can be located. Cemetery details are provided, including cemetery plans and photographs.
The Scottish Genealogy Society has published many booklets of monumental inscriptions and also has a large collection of lists at its library in Edinburgh. Many local societies are publishing lists for their own areas. See individual counties for more details (where available).
The Find-a-Grave page gives details of the graves of the rich and famous together with biographical information.
The Carved Stones Adviser Project is to survey the condition of stones and burial grounds in Scotland, seeks volunteers to make surveys, and gives advice on recording the condition and information on grave stones. It is a project of The Council for Scottish Archaeology and Historic Scotland.
Recording Angels: Scottish Registrars since 1855, by the National Records of Scotland, throws light on how the registrars worked, as knowing more about the history of the records that they created can sometimes help family historian with their research.
Darien Colony - An expedition of five ships was sent on 14 July 1698 to create a Scots colony on the Isthmus of Panama. It was hoped that the colony of ‘New Caledonia’ would generate trade with the Far East. Some believe that this tragic endeavour led to Scotland believing it could not survive without English assistance, thus leading to the 1707 Acts of Union.
Friends of Scotland - Aspects of contemporary Scotland including culture, education and business, a website supported by government.
Statistical Accounts of Scotland - not just statistics, "Accounts of Scottish life from the 18th and 19th centuries" with a mass of descriptive information on a parish-by-parish basis.
The Old Home Town has photographs and comments about various communities, which include Cromarty, Orkney, Invergordon, Tain, Fortrose and Rosemarkie, Inverness.
Geograph is a co-operative project aiming to put a photograph from every 1 kilometre grid square of the UK and Ireland free on Internet. At November 2014 it has almost 4,223,000 images covering 82% of grid squares including photos of churches, and many town and village centres and streets.
The DiCamillo Companion to British and Irish Country Houses aims to list details of every country house ever built. There is a mass of information about history, architects, owners, estates, access, use as film sets, etc. You can search by county or town, as well as by house or owner name, etc.
Raising the Bar, an introduction to Scotland's Historic Pubs, by Historic Scotland.
The Stonemason by Douglas MacGowan is based on Donald Macleod's Chronicle of Scotland's Highland Clearances. Douglas MacGowan had a good website on the clearances, but as of June 2005 it seems not to be available.
One mailing list dealing with Scots emigrants to a specific area of the world is Cape-Fear-Scots. Browse up and down from there to see other email lists for Scots emigration.
Ellis Island was the main place of entry of immigrants to the United States. "It has been estimated that nearly half of all Americans today can trace their family history to at least one person who passed through the Port of New York at Ellis Island." The American Family Immigration History Centre with partners including the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints provide a searchable database of immigrants, and much background information.
Pier 21 in Halifax was Canada's "front door" for immigrants, troops, and evacuees from 1928 to 1971. It was opened as a museum in 1999, and has a website with photos of ships, accounts by immigrants, and a good page of links to immigration websites in Canada and other countries.
Trove (The National Library of Australia) provides free access to over 460 million books, images, historic newspapers, maps, music, archive collections. An amazing resource including over 700 Australian newspapers, this collection, digitized by Trove (The National Library of Australia), covers newspapers from 1803 to the mid-20th century. Each Australian state and territory is represented, although the bulk of the collection consists of newspapers from New South Wales and Victoria.
Scottish Strays Marriage Index is provided online by the Anglo-Scottish Family History Society. Members and others have contributed details of marriages outside Scotland where one partner was from Scotland.
Some Border Marriage Index Strays from Berwickshire, Dumfrieshire, Peebleshire, Roxburghshire and Selkirkshire, containing names extracted from the Marriage Index (1853-1895) of Victoria, Australia.
The GENUKI Gazetteer covers the whole of England, Scotland and Wales and can be searched by place-name (or part of a place-name) or Ordnance Survey Grid Reference (six-figure, e.g. NZ183848). If there are multiple place-names matching the name you enter, you will initially be presented with a drop-down list of the matching place-names.
Scottish researchers may also be interested in the online Gazetteer for Scotland. A joint venture between the University of Edinburgh and the Royal Scottish Geographical Society, it has (at Nov 2014) over 22,400 entries. The Gazetteer for Scotland is a vast encyclopaedia, featuring details of towns, villages, bens and glens from the Scottish Borders to the Northern Isles. The first comprehensive gazetteer produced for Scotland since 1885, it includes tourist attractions, industries and historical sites, together with histories of family names and biographies of famous people associated with Scotland.
Alan Stewart's book Gathering the Clans - Tracing Scottish Ancestry on the Internet has a very helpful section on land records.
Retours of Services of Heirs (1544-1699) and Services of Heirs in Scotland (1700-1859) are now available on CD from the Scottish Genealogy Society. (These are new computerised versions of the long out of print standard reference works for inheritance of landed property in Scotland, from the 16th century to the mid 19th century. Not every inheritance was properly registered, sometimes the transfer was much more informal, but these indexes to surviving inheritance records are invaluable for genealogists researching Scottish landowners, big or small.)
British Listed Buildings - an online database of buildings and structures that are listed as being of special architectural and historic interest.
Most legal records in Scotland are held at The National Records of Scotland in Edinburgh. Green's Glossary of Scottish Legal Terms may be of interest to anyone researching these records. It can be purchased through a number of family history societies and will be found in many libraries.
Published listings of lawyers include:
The Faculty of Advocates in Scotland 1532-1943 edited by Sir Francis J. Grant, published by Scottish Record Society, 1944.
The Lord Advocates of Scotland by George W.T. Omond, published in 3 volumes (1883-1914).
History of the Society of Advocates in Aberdeen edited by John A. Henderson, published by New Spalding Club, 1912.
History of the Society of Writers to H.M. Signet (including list of members from 1594-1890), published by the Society of Writers to H.M. Signet in 1890.
The Register of the Society of Writers to the Signet, published at Edinburgh in 1983 (lists members up to recent times).
Scottish law list, published 1848-1849.
Index juridicus: the Scottish law list from 1852 onwards.
Scots Legal Glossary - a table listing some Scots legal terms, some Latin that is used in legal documents and some obsolete terms that may be encountered by genealogists researching their Scots ancestry.
A guide to Scottish maps, their history and so on, was published by the Scottish Library Association in 1991. The Scot and His Maps by Margaret Wilkes is extensively illustrated and includes a further reading list at the back. It is 48 pages long and its ISBN 0 900649 81 X.
Scotland under Robert The Bruce is a printed map produced by John Garnons Williams, which maps Scotland with the spellings of place names and clan names as they were at 1314, the year of Robert the Bruce's victory over the English at Bannockburn. The map shows over 600 place-names and 170 clan names in their earliest forms.
(The former URL is no longer active.)
David Dobson has written many books about Scottish maritime history, including lists of mariners and his Scottish Maritime Records, 1600-1850 - a guide for Family Historians, published January 1997 by Clearfield, ISBN 9780806347172 (available at Amazon and Waterstones).
R. Houston's article Geographical mobility in Scotland, 1652-1811: the evidence of testimonials, published in the Journal of Historical Geography 11, 4, (1985) pp. 379-394, describes a study of geographical mobility using the records of testimonials recorded in the Kirk Session records of 16 parishes in Lowland Scotland.
Many Scottish service records are held in The National Archives (formerly the Public Record Office) in London. See also the military sections of the main UK and Ireland page in GENUKI.
British Library - Organisations and Resources for British Military History Research.
Commemorating Scotland's War, a number of events led by the University of Edinburgh commemorating Scotland's contribution to the First World War.
The Scottish Military History Society is an association open to anyone with an interest in Scottish Military history and genealogy. It exists to encourage the study of the Scottish Regiments of the British Army and the Commonwealth. The website contains the fully transcribed Glasgow Rolls of Honour for the First and Second World War, and records the Lineage and Uniforms of the Regiments of Scotland from the 1660's to the present day.
Scottish Personal Names & Place Names - A Bibliography is a general guide to books on Scottish personal and place names. It was published by the Scottish Genealogy Society in 1993 and may be purchased through their online ordering system.
To find links to online surname lists (collections of people's surname interests) look in the relevant county pages, or check the master list of surname lists, again elsewhere in GENUKI.
Scottish Personal Names & Place Names - A Bibliography is a general guide to books on Scottish personal and place names. It was published by the Scottish Genealogy Society in 1993 and may be purchased from them.
Guides to forenames and surnames include:
Scottish Forenames by Donald Whyte, published by Birlinn Ltd, 1996 (205 pages), ISBN 1 874744 72 6
Scottish Christian Names by Leslie Alan Dunkling, first published by Johnston & Bacon (Books) Ltd., Stirling, 1978, ISBN 0 7179 4249 4.
The Surnames of Scotland by George F. Black, published by Birlinn Ltd, 1993 (838 pages), ISBN 1 874744 07 6.
Scots often named children by following a simple set of rules. Don't use these as a firm guide (there were often variations, for all sorts of reasons) but you may find that some of your ancestors used these too:
For a classic guide to the peerage in Scotland see Sir James Balfour Paul's The Scots Peerage published in 9 volumes between 1904 and 1914 in Edinburgh. (Now available on CD from the Scottish Genealogy Society.)
A recent guide to tracing noble ancestors, particularly in Scotland, is Jeremy Duncan's Tracing Your Royal Ancestors, ISBN 0 947749 004, published in 1994 at Perth (31 pages).
Scottish Parliament Records The Scottish parliament, or 'three estates' of clergy, nobility and burgesses, originated in the mid-thirteenth century though it is first mentioned in 1293. The National Records of Scotland holds records of the pre-1707 Scottish Parliament, as well as for the devolved Scottish Parliament of 1999-present.
Poor Relief in Scotland published by The National Records of Scotland in 1995 looks at the development of poor relief in the country between the 15th and 20th centuries. It includes facsimile copies of original records. 32 pp., ISBN 0 870874 18 8.
National Records of Scotland - The National Records of Scotland store records of births, deaths, marriages, civil partnerships, divorces, (including stillbirths) - they’re also responsible for the Scottish national archives, which contain government documents and public records.
"A Happie and Golden Tyme" published by The National Records of Scotland looks at education in Scotland since the fourteenth century. It includes facsimile copies of original records. 20 pages long, ISBN 0 870874 15 3.
Scottish Customs from the Cradle to the Grave by Margaret Bennett is full of information about life in Scotland, from childbirth through to death and burial. Polygon, 1992, ISBN 0 7486 6118 2.
Two publications by The National Records of Scotland which look at aspects of social life in Scotland in the past are Hatches, Matches and Despatches (16 pages) and Feast to Festival (27 pages). The first of these looks at customs surrounding birth, marriage and death in Scotland. The second looks at entertainment, from the medieval times right through to the modern day.
For a social and economic record of the parishes of Scotland, together with masses of statistical material, see Sir John Sinclair's Statistical Account of Scotland which was compiled in the 1790s and reprinted in more recent years by EP Publishing Limited of Wakefield, England.
Follow-up works to this were the New Statistical Account (also known as the Second Statistical Account) which was prepared in the 1830s and 1840s; and more recently the Third Statistical Account which has been prepared since the Second World War.
The Old Statistical Account of Scotland (1791-1799) is also available free on Electric Scotland as a series of downloads:
Statistics from Scotland's Census are available at the National Records of Scotland. These are used by central and local government, health authorities and other organisations to allocate resources and plan services.
For population figures see the Population section above.