Top five books for tracing your Scottish ancestors
Explore the life and times of your Scottish forebears with History Scotland’s pick of books for Scottish family history.
Whether you’re new to tracing your Scottish ancestors or have been exploring your family tree for years, these books, written by expert genealogists and historians, provide tips, ideas and projects to help you discover more about your ancestors and what life was like in Scotland in years gone by.
Whether you’d like to fine-tune your online research methods or are looking for advice on what records can be found where, our pick of genealogy books offers something for everyone.
1 Scottish Genealogy (fourth edition) by Bruce Durie
Well-known genealogist and author Dr Bruce Durie provides a wide-ranging and detailed exploration of Scottish family history in this updated edition of his genealogy guide. Topics include DNA, paleography, clans and tartans.
The author encourages readers to explore beyond the records that the internet has to offer, with advice on using the census, land records, parish records and those records created by church and state. Whether you're new to family history or have been tracing your family tree for several years, this is a guide you'll refer to throughout your genealogy journey.
2 Discover Scottish Church Records by Chris Paton
Expert genealogist Chris Paton explains the different type of Scottish church records available and shows you how to use these records for family history research. The book begins with an overview of the different ecclesiastical records, before explaining what each record is, where to find it and how to use it.
Among the topics explored are irregular marriage, multi-faith records, non-conformist records, how to find records for your ancestor's church and using kirk session records.
3 My Ancestor was Scottish by Alan Stewart
Published by the Society of Genealogists, My Ancestor Was Scottish is a perfect starting point for those new to Scottish family history. Author Alan Stewart explores what makes Scottish family history unique, before guiding the reader through using civil registration records, the census, parish registers and wills.
At 119 pages, this is a quick-reference guide with plenty of valuable information for beginners and those who are building on their Scottish ancestry knowledge.
4 The Family Tree Scottish Genealogy Guide: How to Trace Your Ancestors in Scotland by Amanda Epperson
Published in late 2018, this new guide is perfect for those tracing their Scottish kin from outside Scotland. Author Amanda Epperson guides us through how to identify an immigrant ancestor, explaining how to find family history records in the 'old country'.
There is a useful rundown of Scottish history and naming traditions, followed by a look at the key administrative districts - perfect for record finding. Both online and paper-based research are covered, for both Scottish and US records.
5 Tracing Your Scottish Ancestors by Tristram Clarke
National Records of Scotland archivist Dr Tristram Clarke (who also writes a regular column in History Scotland) is the author of Tracing Your Scottish Ancestors, the official guide to tracing your Scottish ancestors at National Records of Scotland - Scotland's national archive.
Dr Clarke's accessible guide is written from the perspective of a custodian of the records, and offers practical and useful advice on how to find your Scottish kin, what records are available and how to trace births, marriages and deaths. There is also a chapter on online research.