Dunedin Family History Group

Otago and Southland related research


~~Scotland is made up of 901 parishes forming 33 counties. To research parishes it helps to know the parish number as well as its name because a lot of references refer to the parish number e.g. if I’m reading a microfilm of 525/03 then I will be reading the part of the parish of Lismore and Appin that covers Ballachulish and Glencoe. A list of parish and registration districts together with their county, registration district numbers and the years covered can be downloaded from ScotlandsPeople at their website – www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk .

Scotland has a rich and fascinating history which can affect how you research in certain areas and time periods. The first mass movement of Scottish people from the highlands happened directly after the Battle of Culloden. Some people fled to the Lowlands of Scotland while others chose North America. This migration was due to the clan system being forcibly dissolved and followers of Bonnie Prince Charlie being sought for treason for their part in Culloden. However following Culloden the main historical event which changed the structure of Scotland was the Highland Clearances which began in 1785. The clearances came about because landowners (of whom 75% didn’t live on their land and therefore didn’t know or care for their tenants) wanted more money. They believed it was more profitable to use the land to farm sheep rather than rent to crofters. Crofters had survived on the land growing crops for many generations. In order to clear the crofters from the land the landlords forced the increase in rent which most crofters could not afford to pay. Other landlords changed the land that they granted their tenants, from the high productive part (which they then made into a reasonable sized estate) to inferior land. This forced crofters to subsidise their farm income by fishing or gathering kelp to enable subsistence. Either way people soon had no option but to leave and many moved to Canada and the USA. Scotland suffered even further when mechanisation was introduced – the handloom weavers, for example, were no longer required.

Births Marriages and Deaths – From New Zealand there are two main avenues for researching civil registration in Scotland. Whichever option you chose will depend on

· your finances

· your time restraints

· the date you’re researching

· what community you’re researching

Your first option is to make full use of your local Family History Centre (FHC) at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS). Our local library is in Fention Cresent, St Clair. You can also use the IGI (International Genealogical Index) which they created via the internet – www.familysearch.org .

The second option is to use some of the records that are housed in NRH (New Register House) and NAS (National Archives of Scotland). They have indexed and scanned the majority of the births, marriages and deaths from the statutory registers, and together with the baptisms and marriages from parish registers pre-1855 and the wills up to 1901, and these are available online at www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk .

If you visit the FHC library you can use the IGI and the Scottish Church records on CD – make sure you search the latter as it contains some entries which are not on the IGI. These records cover births/baptisms and marriages to 1875. The FHC library also has index films for the statutory registers (BMD) up to 1900 and you can order in index films for 1901-1956 and films of the certificates for 1855-1875 plus 1881 and 1891.

The baptism and marriage registers for each parish can be ordered in on film also. Sometimes there are burials and / or kirk meeting minutes on the same film but these are not indexed on the IGI. If your family stayed in the one parish this can be the cheapest way of researching them as you can get the whole range of christenings and marriages for maybe three generations for the cost of the film. You have to pay to rent a film – they usually take about two weeks to arrive and will be available to you in the library for three weeks to read.

ScotlandsPeople on the other hand has

· all parish registers online, so once you locate an entry in an index that you believe to be yours you can see an image of it

· index to all statutory registers 1855-1932 and births and deaths go up to 2006

· images of certifcates to 1907 for births; 1932 for marriages and 1957 for deaths

To use ScotlandsPeople you must purchase credits – £6 will buy you 30 credits. To see up to 25 people on one page of an index will cost 1 credit and to see a certificate will cost 5 credits. With judicious use you can therefore find and view five certificates for your £6 (currently equivalent to approx $15.75 – or $3.15 per certificate).

For research before 1875 if time is not an issue and pennies are (we are talking of being of Scottish descent after all), especially if the family stayed in one parish for a long time, I would utilise the facilities of the local FHC. It is amazing what you can pick up on a film – names can jump out at you that eventually you will be able to fit into the family and you will have all the information at hand as you will have noted it as you read the film.

The Scottish naming pattern can be helpful when reading the films and trying to figure out whether the person is likely to be a family member or not. It is not always followed but is a good guide. It is:

· first son – named after father’s father

· second son – named after mother’s father

· third son – named after father

· first daughter – named after mother’s mother

· second daughter – named after father’s mother

· third daughter – named after mother

If you have a gap in your family and think there should be another child then try using the Census. This may not only give you a child who is alive at the time of the census who was born elsewhere, but now that you know where that child was born you can go back to that parish and see if there are any other children born who may have died before the census.

Deaths after 1854 are relatively simple as you just need to search the index. However, pre 1855 they are more difficult. You may be lucky and find some burials in the parish registers, however your main source will be the Pre 1855 Monumental Inscriptions (MI) which were done on a countrywide basis and the Cemetery Transcripts (CT) which were transcribed by locals. In Dunedin you are lucky as NZSG Dunedin Branch has the best coverage of Scottish MIs and CTs in the South Island. You may also find them in public libraries, or use the BWO (Books We Own) list on rootsweb http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~bwo/

One thing that must be realised is that the majority of records on the IGI and ScotlandsPeople are for the Church of Scotland. If your people were Free Church, Catholic, Episcopalian, Apostolic etc you will have to look elsewhere for the registers. Some are held in the NAS, some are still in the parish and some are lost. Also remember that the border between England and Scotland moved every so often and large numbers of people moved between Scotland and Ireland (some quite often) so check in both England and Ireland.

Other ways to obtain the information:

· Check out Sue Lund’s Scotland BDM Exchange http://www.sctbdm.com/ for certificates and transcriptions. Currently has information on over 65,000 records.

· Join a family history society in the region you are researching – they often provide free or cheaper lookups for members http://www.genuki.org.uk/Societies/Scotland.html

· Join a mailing list for your area/clan – there are often people with expert knowledge on these lists who can point you in the right direction. A search for “Scotland” in the mailing lists space on http://lists.rootsweb.ancestry.com/ will yield a list of 331 mailing lists that have something to do with Scotland. The local Family History Society may also have its own mailing list.

If you are wanting a certificate that is not yet online then you can

· employ an agent (or friend if they’re going – it’s cheaper) to get the certificate for you

· use research agents in Scotland (films of certificates are available in other libraries like Perth’s AK Bell Library and the Mitchell Library in Glasgow)

· if you’re a member of the NZSG then they can get the certificate for you

Census – Census were taken every 10 years from 1841 but only up to 1901 is available. Census films can be ordered in at the FHC but these films have no index. But you can read all of the parish (and neighbouring parishes).

· The Indexed version of the census can be found at ScotlandsPeople. If you find an entry in the index then you can immediately get a copy of the full entry.

· An Index only is available on Ancestry – http://www.ancestry.com

· Also available are the free census transcriptions – still under transcription so it pays to check back every so often – can be found at http://freecen.rootsweb.com/

Now that you know where your people were born, married and/or died there are several things you can do to know a little more about them, or at least how they lived and what they did.

Testaments Documents relating to the winding up of a person’s property

· up to 1901 – scanned and available on ScotlandsPeople (£5 per will/testament)

· 1902-1998 – need to be searched in the NAS

· Pre 1868 – won’t list land and buildings in the testaments.

Land transfer – Sasines record transfer of ownership whether by sale or inheritance. Few people have them so it is very much a record of the “haves” rather than the “have nots”.

Retours – process followed when land is inherited. Both sets of records are available to search on films at FHC or in person in NAS.

Other places to look for information:

Books on the places and occupations of your people

Rootsweb www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/ and Ancestry www.ancestry.co.uk/ – for the family trees of others who may include your family – even though they’re generally oriented towards American research a lot of Scots emigrated in the latter part of the 1700’s to North America and later on to both NA and Canada – so they may trace their ancestry back to one person whom you can no longer find in Scotland.

E-Bay www.ebay.com/ – find old postcards, drawings from books etc – you can download the images

Maps (National Library of Scotland www.nls.uk/collections/maps/index.html ), and gazetteers ( http://www.gazettes-online.co.uk/ )

Statistical Accounts – something that is unique to Scotland – http://edina.ac.uk/stat-acc-scot/ . These are accounts of each parish in Scotland, written by the Minister – one lot take in the 1790’s and the other the 1830’s. The Statistical Accounts will tell you all about the terrain of the parish, the rivers and mountains, its weather, what type of animals they have, or don’t have, the population – including those that left, religion, prices for goods bought and sold (In the 1790’s barley sells for 18 to 20 shillings for a boll, butter for 12 shillings for a stone (equal to 24 pounds), and cheese is 5 to 6 shillings a stone. For one of my parishes there are 21 pages of fascinating reading in the 1790 version and 34 in 1834 account – the latter one provides more names, but only of landed people.