Scottish Genealogy

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Scottish Surnames and Naming Traditions

The newest Find My Scottish Ancestors research guide is now live on my website.

This one deals with Scottish surnames and the naming traditions that so often dictated the naming of children.

Some of the ways in which names passed down through a family can be great clues for anyone trying to trace their Scottish genealogy, so do have a look.

Have a look at the Find My Scottish Ancestors Surnames and Naming Traditions Research Guide


and remember that the Beginners Guide to Tracing Your Scottish Ancestors and the Emigration/Immigration guides are also available.

Hope these help...

Friday, 15 July 2011

Lost Byron memorial book finds a home at the National Library of Scotland

What a lovely story to read about: a priceless piece of history has recently been returned to the UK after being lost for more than 150 years.

The memorial book, which was placed at the site of Lord Byron's burial vault in St Mary Magdalene Church in Hucknall Torkard, outside Nottingham, went missing sometime after 1834 and finally surfaced in 2008 at a church sale in Savannah, Georgia!

How it got there remains a mystery, but the book was kindly donated to the National Library of Scotland [NLS] by Marilyn Solana who picked up the book off a stall at the sale for $35.

Plans are underway to conserve the book, which is a little the worse for wear after its travels, and to digitise images of the book and make them available online.

The book itself contains more than just signatures of people who visited Byron's grave - it holds personal tributes and some poems left by more than 800 people, many of them famous figures of the day.

The book will now join the multitude of other Byron items held by the John Murray Archive at the NLS.

Image: scottchan /

Monday, 4 July 2011

Online Family History Resources: Scottish Tax Records

There are a few great genealogy and local history resources available online which perhaps don't always get the attention they deserve.  Among these I would count the eighteenth century tax rolls, some of which have been available for some time on the scotlandsplaces website.  

These records date from the late 1700s and can be invaluable in helping to trace ancestors before the period when the Scottish census was taken.  The two sets of tax records which are available online are the Farm Horse Tax and the Clock and Watch Tax from 1797-1798 and, although the records are not indexed, digital images of the books can be browsed on the scotlandsplaces website. 

Simply go to the homepage, select the county in which you are interested, and then choose to view the historical tax records from that county.

These records are not as comprehensive as the census records, but they do give the following information:
Farm Horse Tax: Names of owner and number of horses and mules used in husbandry or trade
Clock and Watch Tax: Names of owners and number of clocks, gold watches and silver or metal watches

There will be an indication of where the individuals lived, but the lists are usually simply split by parish with a list of names for each parish - still they can be an invaluable research tool, and they are especially useful for those who may be researching from a distance.

And...they're free to access!

There are all sorts of other taxation records available at the National Records of Scotland [formerly National Archives of Scotland], maybe one day there will be even more of these available to researchers online too.

In the mean time, why not check out these online records and see whether any of your ancestors owned a gold watch... 

Archives resources for tracing Scottish family history

Image: Suat Eman /