Welcome, fellow genealogists! My blog will teach you about U.S. land records and United Kingdom research. My family has roots in Niagara County, New York; Norfolk, England; and northeast Germany.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Wisdom Wednesday: Scottish Parish Records

Have you ever wondered if there was an online alternative to ScotlandsPeople for Scottish parish records? This is a question posed recently at a UK Special Interest Group meeting. It seems wise to check www.ancestry.com  and www.familysearch.org  first. Then I recommend consulting The Scottish Association of Family History Societies at www.safhs.org.uk.  

Because it is free at most public libraries, I will describe how to find out if www.ancestry.com has any parish records for Scotland on the library version of the program. On the home page, under the box asking you to input a name, there is a list of censuses on the left and to the right a list of other databases. There is the phrase ‘all databases’ at the very end of the second list. Click on those words, and it will bring you to a screen where on the left you can enter ‘Scotland’ as a Keyword. Although far from a specialty, a few databases are available, including Roxburghshire, Scotland, Extracted Parish Records.
On the home page of www.familysearch.org, scroll down to ‘Browse by Location’ and click on ‘United Kingdom and Ireland.’ From the list on the left, select ‘Scotland’ with eight databases listed; six are the Scottish Censuses from 1841 to 1891. The other two show some promise – one is Scotland, Births and Baptisms, 1564-1950 and the last is Scotland, Marriages, 1561-1910. Although the two databases contain almost 11.5 million records, familysearch clearly states that they represent only a fraction of all the records while being unclear about what parishes or districts are included.

Another avenue to pursue is the transcriptions done by local volunteers and posted on the sites of local Family History Societies. Much of this work is online in the ‘Members Only’ section of a Society’s website.  
First go to www.safhs.org.uk and see if there is a Family History Society that covers your geographic area of interest. There should be a link to the local society’s website. Membership in these groups tends to range from £10 – 20 per year. Not every group clearly advertises what is in their ‘Members only” section. I suggest you email them and ask if they have the parish records you want.

I recently found the inscription on my great great grandmother’s tombstone in the ‘Members only’ section of the Norfolk Family History Society’s website. I stood in the cemetery one cold rainy October day and must have missed it. Perhaps it was in the rear with the high wet grass - the part I gave up on.  Moral - Never give up.

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