17/11/2017
Share this story Share on Facebook icon Share on Twitter icon Share on Pinterest icon Share on Google Plus icon Share on Linked In icon Share via Email icon

Ten top tips for using the ScotlandsPeople website for family history

e03de2d6-1bad-4798-8255-173111bf90d5

Looking for Scottish ancestors? Try these ten top tips for finding your Scottish kin on the ScotlandsPeople website.

1. Before you start using ScotlandsPeople, take the time to explore its help and guidance pages where there are lots of helpful tips and information about the records.

2. Be prepared to widen your search by a few years either side. Sometimes ages were not given accurately and information on a death certificate may have been given by someone who didn’t know the deceased that well.

3. When doing a search take care not to input too much information, such as middle names. If spellings could have varied then use a wildcard like thom*son that will look for all Thomson spellings with or without a ‘p’ or use Name Variants.

4. Don’t assume your ancestor's forename is spelled the way you expect to find it, and make use of all available tools to widen your search.

5. Especially in Old Parish Records and censuses, there could be variant spellings, mis-transcriptions (by clerks), abbreviations and indexing errors (latter are more prevalent with unusual names, eg Guilio for Giulio).

6. Try to cross-refer between statutory and census records. If the records indicate that there may have been an event in the ‘golden year’ of 1855 seek it out as it will contain lots of information. Valuation rolls can also be helpful to help you establish whether the family are living at the property between census years.

7. If you are looking for the birth record of an ancestor with a common surname and they were born in or before 1911, the census record will include their place of birth. You can narrow the birth search by selecting the County/District the person was born in.

8. If you can’t find a family in the census records try a search of the valuation rolls (1885-1935) where you can search by address.

9. When using ScotlandsPeople, each time you land on a records page you’ll see a search tips page which shows you how to make the most of the search boxes for that particular page. If you prefer not to have the tips simply uncheck the ‘search tips’ box in Advanced Search.

10. If you can’t find your ancestor by name, try a place search. Many ScotlandsPeople records can be searched by place, either by using drop-down lists of parishes, districts, burghs or courts, or via a free text search facility. Read this guide for searching by county, within indexed records, and more.

Start exploring ScotlandsPeople.

(image copyright Tuck DB Postcards)

Back to "Family History" Category

17/11/2017 Share this story   Share on Facebook icon Share on Twitter icon Share on Pinterest icon Share on Google Plus icon Share on Linked In icon Share via Email icon

Recent Updates

The Burrell Collection was opened - On this day in Scottish history

The Burrell Collection was opened on 21 October 1983.


Colin Campbell 1st Baron of Clyde was born - On this day in Scottish history

Colin Campbell, 1st Baron Clyde was born on 20 October 1792.


The first public sedan chairs in Scotland became available - On this day in Scottish history

Scotland's first public hire sedan chairs became available on 19 October 1687.


Queen consort Margaret Tudor died on 18 October 1541

Queen consort Margaret Tudor died on 18 October 1541.


Other Articles

The best Scottish castles to visit – History Scotland’s ultimate castles guide

Which are the best Scottish castles to explore? Which castles in Scotland are open during the winter? Plan ...


History events in Scotland - November 2018

Discover things to do in Scotland in November with our round-up of history-inspired events. ...


Craigmillar Castle to stage Mary Queen of Scots light projection event - 1 to 4 November 2018

Experience Craigmillar Castle in a different light with a new after-dark event ‘Spotlight on Mary Queen of ...


The Skye Bridge opened - on this day in Scottish history

The Skye Bridge opened on 16 October 1995.