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

Sir Walter Scott was born - On this day in history

Scottish author, playwright and poet Sir Walter Scott was born on 15 August 1771. Find out more on our pages ...


Ocean Liners: Speed and Style - new exhibition at the V&A Dundee

The 'golden age' of ocean travel will be reimagined at a new exhibition, which will explore the design and ...


The story of the Hamilton Tolbooth - 1642 to 1954

The town of Hamilton in South Lanarkshire had a beautiful, landmark tollbooth, which over the years served as ...


King Robert III was born - On this day in history

King Robert III of Scotland was born on 14 August 1337.


Other Articles

Fugitive slave featured in Edinburgh Fringe musical discovered to have visited Scotland with his own show

The cast of a new Edinburgh Fringe musical have discovered that the fugitive African American slave whose ...


Sir William Craigie was born - On this day in history

Scottish lexicographer Sir William Craigie was born on 13 August 1867.


Malicious mischief? New National Records of Scotland exhibition tells the story of women's suffrage in Scotland

A new exhibition by National Records of Scotland in Edinburgh brings together records of the suffragettes and ...


Doors Open Days 2018 has launched!

The National Doors Open Days 2018 programme has launched, with more than 1,000 buildings around Scotland open ...