Connect with Scottish Ancestry

Clan Macnab burial ground at Killin

Background information on Scotland and its people.

The Scots are, essentially, a mix of five core groups of people: the Picts (original iron-age inhabitants), the Scots (who migrated from Northern Ireland), the Britons (native people in the S.W. of Scotland), Norse (from Scandinavia) who dominated the North and West and the Angles who invaded from Europe in the 5th century AD. The first three named groups had an affinity in that they were of Celtic origin. From around the 9th century the country was subject to hostile attacks from Norwegian Vikings who subsequently settled and left their mark in place names, particularly in the West of Scotland. Orkney and Shetland were ceded by Norway to Scotland in 1472.
The Highlands Clan system started to develop around the 12th century and has provided us with a legacy of names recognised the world over which include Armstrong, Bruce, Cameron, Campbell, Clanranald, Colquhoun, Davidson, Douglas, Drummond, Farquharson, Forbes, Gordon, Grant, Gunn, Lamont, Lovat, MacBean, MacFarlane, MacDonell, MacDonald, Mackay, MacGillivray, MacGregor, Mackinnon, MacDougall, Mackenzie, Mackintosh, Maclean, Macleod, Macmillan, MacNab, MacPherson, Macrae, Menzies, Murray, Robertson, Scott, Stewart and Sutherland. However, there are some 16,000 Scottish surnames of which fewer than 3,000 originate from the Highlands. The majority of Scots have always lived in the Lowlands.

Many of the clans have societies with dedicated websites. Some clans arrange reunions at regular intervals.

Burial place of fallen members of various clans at Culloden Battlefield, Inverness.

Tracing Scottish Family History

There are many and varied information sources, including:
  • Census Returns
  • Old Parish Records
  • International Genealogical Index
  • Local Newspapers
  • Records of local societies.
  • Poor Law Records
  • Trade Directories ( Post Office Directories)
  • Trade Societies Records
  • Poll Tax Rolls 1695 and Hearth Tax Records 1691
  • Sasines from 1781-1947 (transfer of property ownership).
  • Confirmations and Inventories (wills).
  • Valuation Rolls
  • Official records of former burghs and councils.
  • Maps
  • Local Archives
  • Registration Offices (births, deaths and marriages).
  • General Register Office for Scotland
  • Burial grounds records
  • Local family history societies
  • Scotland’s People-official Scottish Government source of genealogical data.
  • Professional genealogists (ancestry researchers), e.g. The Association of Scottish Genealogists and Researchers in Archives (ASGRA)
Author’s tip: If wishing to connect with Scottish ancestry then work with a Scottish based genealogist and establish contact with same 6-12 months prior to actual visit. It is best to have some ‘hard’ information on which research can be based, e.g. dates of ancestor’s birth, marriage, death, emigration date, address in Scotland, occupation, etc.


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