Researching Your Scottish Ancestry From 1855
If you have Scottish roots, then you will find that there are extremely detailed records available for you to research. Let me give you some tips to get your family tree off to a flying start!
1) To start your research, you will need at least one name of an ancestor you know lived in Scotland in or after 1855. If you're not sure, speak to your relatives. It's amazing how much they might know!
2) Providing your ancestors lived in Scotland in or after 1855, you will be able to research the Civil Registrations. It was compulsory for people to register births, marriages and deaths from that time. It can be relatively straightforward to identify the appropriate documents if you have an idea of where they lived.
3) To start your research, it is best to get a marriage certificate if at all possible. If you know the names of the couple, it shouldn't be too difficult to identify the marriage record, even if you don't know when or where the marriage took place. It is very unlikely that there will be another couple with the same full names!
4) Once you have a Civil Marriage certificate (1855 onwards), you will see that the document provides a tremendous amount of valuable information. The age of the bride and groom are given, along with their addresses and occupations. The names and occupations of the parents of the couple are also given, which lets you go back a further generation.
5) If you know that your ancestor died in Scotland after 1855, you should be able to find the death certificate. If your ancestor was a married female, you can do a cross-reference search using both her married and maiden name. Read through the death certificate to confirm it is for the correct person! You will also be able to determine if she was still married at her time of death, (meaning that her husband died after her), or that she was a widow (establishing that the husband died before the wife). With these clues, you can then search for the husband's death record.
6) If you ancestor was born in Scotland in or after 1855, you should be able to locate the birth certificate. As well as the parents' names, you may also find details of their marriage. This is a wonderful bonus if the marriage took place before 1855, or if the marriage took place out of Scotland.
7) The census records provide a lot of valuable information. Census records available to the public start in 1841, and were carried out every 10 years. The most current available Scottish census is for 1901. These records show those living at home on census night, so you are able to identify whole families if you have an idea of where they were living in Scotland when the census was taken. These records give the occupants' age, address, relationship to the head of the household, place of birth and occupation. Please note however that the enumerator recorded the age that the householder gave him, so it might not be absolutely correct!