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Finding your Scottish Heritage


Published By royalscotsclub on 10/03/2014

There are descendants of Scots in almost every country of the globe. Finding you’ve got a Scottish blood in your veins is becoming more and more common and family history and genealogy continue to be popular past times. If you’re looking to discover more the Scottish ancestors in your family keep our tips in mind.

Beginning the Search

The best place to begin looking for your Scottish heritage is with your family. Any old document could be relevant so ask and see what you can find. You then have to work backwards from the oldest known member of your family, perhaps someone living at the beginning of the 20th century because Census information for that time is easily available.

If you find you do have Scottish ancestors then you’ve got the luck of one of the world’s most efficient records of family history. Scotland tops world tables for providing resources for family history information on the webL.  Websites such as ScotlandsPeople provide Census records from 1841 to 1911 and other information digitised from the National Archives of Scotland.

If you have or believe you have a relative, however distant, who was born, married or died in Scotland after 1553 then you should be able to trace them some way online. Earlier than this date you may have trouble but the 16th century is quite a far way back to go.

Scottish Census Records

The Scottish census has been recorded every ten years from 1801 and provides great insight into the daily lives of your descendants. It records information including the number of rooms they lived with and the number of people they lived with, family members or others. The census records from 1841 to as late as 1911 are easily accessible for the public via the web.

Records later than 1911 you may have trouble with as the Census details aren’t released until 100 years have passed – the next census data from 1921 will be released in 2021.

Family Clans and Tartans

The majority of people looking for their Scottish ancestors want to know about clans and tartan. Finding your own family tartan can be very exciting but first you need to find your clan. You can visit the Ancestral Scotland website and use the clan search function to see if your family name is linked to any of Scotland’s famous clans.

Once you’ve located your clan you’ll get a clearer idea about where you family came from exactly and its history. At this point you may find the tartan for your clan too.

The National Records of Scotland which is housed in the General Register House in Edinburgh has an official register of Tartan and is provides a huge amount of information about hundreds of different, unique tartans – if your clan has one then it will be housed here.

If you do find you have a Scottish past online then it makes sense to visit your ancestors’ home and seeing Scotland in the flesh may help you to visualise the lives of your Scottish ancestry.

Photo credit: Moyan Brenn

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