Finding Records of Your Ancestors in Scotland 1855 To 1901

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If your ancestor lived in Scotland between 1855 and 1901, follow the steps in this guide to find the records of his or her family. These instructions will show you which records to search, what to look for, and what tools to use.

The Research Process Overview

Follow these steps to find all members of the family (parents and children) of your ancestor who lived in Scotland between 1855 and 1901: 1. Find information about your ancestor’s birthplace and parents’ names in:

A. Marriage or death certificates in civil registration records.
B. Census records.

2. Find your ancestor’s birth certificate in civil registration records.
3. Find your ancestor with his or her parents and brothers and sisters in census records.
4. Find the marriage certificate for your ancestor’s parents in civil registration records.

How to use this article:

  • The Research Process: To see how the process works, review the example on pages 3–11.
  • Finding Places: To learn more about place names in Scotland, see pages 13–15.
  • Records: As you follow each step of the research process, go to pages 16–21 to learn about the record you are searching.
  • Additional Helps: For more information about researching Scottish records, see pages 22–23.

When you have found all members of a family, use the process to find another family. Search for the husband’s or wife’s parents and siblings.

The Research Process - How to Begin

Before beginning your research, it is important that you gather all the family information you can about your ancestor. You may find this information in your home, in your parents’ home, and from any other living family members. Also check the Internet to see if others have researched your Scottish family. Here are some Web sites to start with:

  • FamilySearch ( is the official family history Internet site of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Access to information on this site is free.
  • RootsWeb ( is a free site. Click Family Trees to search for your ancestor’s name.
  • ( is the largest commercial family history site. Access to the Ancestry World Tree is free, but a fee is required to access other information on the site.
  • OneGreatFamily ( charges for most of its services.
  • Genes Reunited ( is a family history site in the United Kingdom. A fee is required to view detailed information. Record the information you find on family group records and a pedigree chart or in a family history

software program. For example, you can download Personal Ancestral File 5.2 without cost from From your pedigree chart, choose an ancestor who was married or died in Scotland between 1855 and 1901. You must know at least the approximate date and place of the marriage or death of this ancestor. It is helpful to know the name of your ancestor’s husband or wife.

The Research Process -- Example

Using the Internet is the fastest and easiest way to find Scottish records. The following pages walk you through this process, using as an example the steps Bridget takes to find the family of her ancestor Thomas Selcraig. Follow these same steps to find your ancestor’s family. Notice in the example that Bridget has listed what she knows about Thomas Selcraig and his spouse, Helen Wilson, on a pedigree chart. She has started a family group record with Thomas Selcraig listed as a child.

Tip: If you don’t know your ancestor’s marriage or death information:

  • Start with a more recent generation. You will learn how to do research, and you will probably discover something you didn’t know about your family.
  • Find the records for the family in the example. This will teach you basic research skills before you search for your own family.