Scottish ancestry? .. you are lucky ..

There are two indispensable websites that ancestry chasers will need if they are lucky enough to have Scottish ancestors.

Scotlandspeople.com is invaluable and is the first port of call for any researcher.   The search options are helpful but remember there is more to the website that the search button.  There is any amount of material that can be gleaned from the information buried within.  For instance I found that there was no marriage certificate for my great–great-grandfather  Samuel Ford and Margaret Wright for the simple reason that for some twenty months around 1815/16 there was no register keep for marriages.   No reason given but there you have have it .. no records exists for marriages even though birth records were kept over the same period.

The other website is The Statistical Accounts of Scotland 1791-1845.   Here are thirty-six volumes of statistics and comments, antidotes and facts judicially collected by local parish priests and formulated into the ‘Accounts’.

While the parish rector was responsible for collecting basic community records concerning births, deaths, and marriage (the Old Parochial Records) no other data concerning the community was otherwise noted until the first Scottish Census in 1841.  Consequently, there was no way of knowing much else about the 900 odd parishes stretched across Scotland or of the people who lived in them.  In the 1791 Sir John Sinclair set out to rectify this deficiency.  He sent out a series of questionnaires to the parish ministers in order to obtain a more accurate account of the geography, topography, economy and the community.  The massive undertaking involved time, effort and any number of set backs with the result that the actual library was not completed until 1992.

Although unlike the Old Parochial Records the Accounts are not necessarily concerned with recording details of individuals they are an invaluable mine of information which will flesh out the bare bones of your research.   People lived in communities and often community values are a good guide to human behaviour within that community.

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