Books on Genealogy

bruce-book1 Scottish Genealogy (Third Edition)
by Bruce Durie
This fully revised and updated third edition of Scottish Genealogy is a comprehensive guide to tracing your family history in Scotland. Written by one of the most authoritative figures on the subject, the work is based on established genealogical practice and is designed to exploit the rich resources that Scotland has to offer. After all, this country has possibly the most complete and best-kept set of records and other documents in the world. Addressing the questions of DNA, palaeography and the vexed issues of Clans, Families and tartans, and with a new chapter on Heraldry, Bruce Durie presents a fascinating insight into discovering Scottish ancestors. He covers both physical and electronic sources, and explains how to get beyond the standard (births, marriages and deaths plus census) research, reminding the reader that there are more tools than just the internet, and not everything written down is correct! Comparisons are made with records in England, Ireland and elsewhere, and all of the 28 million people who claim Scottish ancestry worldwide will find something in this book to challenge and stimulate. Informative and entertaining, this new edition is the definitive reader-friendly guide to genealogy and family history in Scotland.

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Understanding Documents for Genealogy & Local History
by Bruce Durie

Genealogists and local historians have probably seen every birth, marriage, death and census record available, and are adept at using the internet for research. However, once they have learnt everything they can from them, the next step is reading and understanding older documents. These can be hard to find (not many are online), are often written in challenging handwriting and use legal and other unfamiliar terms. Some will be in Latin, antiquated English or Scots. Readers need to be able to understand the nature and intent of a range of documents as well as the palaeography (the handwriting) and orthography (the ‘shape’ of the contents). In Understanding Documents for Genealogy and Local History, Dr Bruce Durie, the celebrated author of Scottish Genealogy, details how to find and comprehend documents from 1560 to the 1860s – wills, testaments, contracts, indentures and charters, land records (retours, sasines and manorial custumals), personal letters, official records, Church papers, trust dispositions, deeds and others. Also covered are the complexities of dates, numbers, calendars, measurements and money, abbreviations, transcription conventions, letter-forms and glossaries. A Latin primer completes the tool kit the genealogist and family historian will need to further their research.

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Genealogy Links

  • PublicProfiler – Where your surname was clustered in 1881. Free
  • Scotland’s People – The official online source of parish register, civil registration and census records for Scotland. Buy Credits
  • Scotland’s Places – Provides information relating to places throughout Scotland including monument records, register house plans, medical officer of health reports, land ownership etc. Some info free, some by 3-month subscription
  • National Library of Scotland – NLS is an information treasure trove of Scotland’s knowledge, history and culture, with millions of books, manuscripts and maps covering every subject. Free
  • National Records of Scotland – Formerly the National Archives for Scotland, this holds historical records created by businesses, landed estates, families, churches and other bodies. See also the National Register of Archives in Scotland All free, but only indexes, no documents
  • Scottish Archive Network  – The Scottish Archive Network aims to revolutionise access to Scotland’s archives by providing a single electronic catalogue to the holdings of more than 50 Scottish archives. Free, mainly indexes, some documents
  • Court of the Lord Lyon – the statutory body for all things heraldic (Coats of Arms etc.). The actual records are at Scotland’s People, Free to search but Paid-For to view
  • Scottish Register of Tartans – official online database of tartan designs, established by law in 2008. Free
  • The National Archives  – Don’t forget that TNA in Kew, London, the official British archive, holds many records relating to Scottish family history, especially military records, lost online. Much is Free, some Paid-for
  • AncestralScotland  – Discover your Scottish roots and start planning your ancestral journey to Scotland. Free
  • Scottish Association of Family History Societies  – links to family history societies in Scotland, and similar organisations worldwide. Free
  • Cyndi’s List – comprehensive portal to Scottish genealogy links. Free

Commercial Family History sites – a selection

  • Ancestry ( or – sites which collate both official records and other reference information, but not much on Scottish records. Subscription
  • Deceased Online  – Access to official records for UK burials and cremations. Free to search, then Paid-For
  • Family Search/IGI – the largest genealogy organization in the world, and free to use, but of variable accuracy and light on Scottish records. Free
  • Find My Past  – over 750million records. Paid-For

Visiting Scotland

Clan Chief Tours ( Specialise in Scottish Heritage Tours, inlcuding Mary Queen of Scots, Bannockburn and Caraigievar & NE Scotland.

Clans and Castles ( Organises self-drive tours of the country.

Visit Scotland ( Scotland’s national tourism organisation – providing inspirational information & helpful advice on travel, accommodation & things to see & do in Scotland.