Tracking Down Scottish Ancestors

2-3 minute read

By The Findmypast Team | May 31, 2018


Tracing your Scottish ancestry can be tricky. Thanks to the way the records are managed, access to them is, at times, a little restrictive. That's not to say, thought, that all is lost. On, you'll find millions of Scottish records, spanning centuries. We've put together this guide on the records we have, what they contain, and how you can use them.

Life Events

There are several useful collections you can explore to find the milestones in your Scottish family's lives including:

Scotland Births & Baptisms 1564-1950 - Over 9 million records covering nearly 400 years of Scottish history. Each record contains a transcript of original sources and you will usually find out names, dates, locations and parents' names.

Scotland Marriages 1561-1910 - A comprehensive collection of over 4 million records will help you uncover a union in two branches of your Scottish family.

Scotland Billion Graves Cemetery Index - If your ancestors were buried in Scotland, use this continually-updated index to find the precise location and even view a photograph of their headstone.

You can access these records by using our A-Z of record sets at the top of your screen when viewing Findmypast. Once you're on our A-z page, simply type in 'Scotland' to see all of our record sets that contain the word 'Scotland' in their title. Alternatively, carry out a search as normal, then use the geographical filters on the left of your results page to narrow down to Scottish results.


Our British Newspaper Collection is of the most important resources you can search for your Scottish family. You can narrow your search by date and county. For a full overview of our Scottish newspapers and how to get the most from them, click here.


Scotland is included in our British census records from 1841-1901. The censuses are the perfect way to track your family's evolution over generations. They'll tell you your ancestor's name, address, birth year, occupation and more.

To access our census records, either use the A-Z method outlined above, our select census records on the left of your screen on any results page. Or, in the dropdown menu at the top of the homepage, select 'census, land and substitutes' and search from there.


Over 395,000 soldiers from Scotland are included in our comprehensive British Army Service Records. You can filter your search by country and county to narrow your results to exactly what you're searching for. There are many regiments with origins in Scotland including The Scots Guards, The Royal Scots Fusiliers and The Highland Light Infantry.

Other Collections

Expand your Scottish family history further by exploring some less well-known collections:

Scotland Registers & Records are a varied array of social histories and parish records covering everything from the parish of Alloa to the Black Watch.

Scotland, Paternity Decrees 1750-1922 will help you break down brick walls by discovering illegitimate ancestors.

Scotland Pre-1841 Censuses and Population Lists takes you back further with early census information for several Scottish parishes.

Where else to look?

Findmypast is not the only resource available to help you build your Scottish family tree. ScotlandsPeople is the official Scottish government genealogy website and holds comprehensive collections of civil and church registers, censuses, land records and more. Combining ScotlandsPeople with Findmypast will most likely yield the most-well rounded Scottish family history research.


Thanks for reading this week's guide. If you have any comments or questions, don't hesitate to let us know over on Facebook or Twitter.

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