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Largest collection of Scottish family history records now available online through Findmypast

Robert Louis Stevenson aged 7
Robert Louis Stevenson aged 7

The largest collection of Scottish family history records ever made available online has been published by leading UK family history website Findmypast.

The vast new online collection of Old Parish Records has been published in collaboration with local archives and organisations across Scotland.

Dating back to 1561 and spanning 450 years of Scottish history, the new collection contains more than 10.7 million historical documents chronicling baptisms, marriages, burials and more.

Dundee Howff

The vast new online resource will allow family historians across the globe to uncover rare details of their ancestor’s lives and the stories behind major life events.

When combined with Findmypast’s existing collection of Scottish records and historical newspapers, the release firmly establishes the DC Thomson owned company as the home of the largest collection of Scottish family history records available anywhere online, enabling users to explore their Scottish family tree in greater depth and detail than ever before.

Groundbreaking collaboration

Myko Clelland, Regional Licensing & Outreach Manager at Findmypast, explained that this groundbreaking new resource is the result of Findmypast’s close collaboration with local family history societies, archives and volunteers from across the country.

Historical records

It brings together a wide variety of important historical records, many of which were previously inaccessible to public and are now fully searchable in new ways for the first time.

This includes records that not only reveal vital information on Scottish ancestors, but also provide valuable insights into parish life, including;

*Records of non-conformist churches including the Episcopal, Free Church, United Free Church and more, fully indexed and searchable for the very first time.

*Newly published 20th century records (current online collections stop at 1855) that provide vital details of more recent ancestors, allowing users to uncover the details of previous generations and trace their family tree back from there.

Dundee Howff

*Rare “Irregular Marriages” from Kirk Sessions (those not officially recorded by the parish registers and conducted without a ceremony).

*Mortcloth rentals, records of deceased Scots who were too poor to afford a proper burial, having to the hire the cloth that was placed over their coffin, or where original records no longer survive.

*“Ringings of the burial bell”, records of those too poor to even afford a mortcloth rental so instead paid for a ringing of the church bell in their memory.

Family history societies

Fife Family History Society chairman Ali Murray is amongst those who have been involved

The collaborative project saw Findmypast work with volunteers from nine Scottish local and national family history societies, including The Scottish Genealogy Society; Fife Family History Society; The Highland Family History Society; Dumfries & Galloway Family History Society; Renfrewshire Family History Society; Lothians Family History Society; Lanarkshire Family History Society; Glasgow & West of Scotland Family History Society and West Lothian Family History Society.

Names, dates, locations, the names of parent’s, spouses, children and other biographical details such as occupations, residences and more were transcribed and then digitally converted thanks to the hard work of hundreds of Scottish family historians.

Myko Clelland, regional licensing and outreach manager at Findmypast

Myko Clelland, Regional Licensing & Outreach Manager at Findmypast said: “We are honoured to work with such a large number of outstanding organisations to make Scottish family history accessible worldwide.

“This has enabled Findmypast to not only illuminate the lives of influential Scots who have played pivotal roles in history, but also tell the stories of ordinary and often overlooked people who, through centuries of effort, have shaped the world we now live in and are responsible for everything we know and love as Scotland today.”

The publication was being supported by Dundonian Hollywood star Brian Cox (star of HBO’s Succession) and Colin McFarlane (of Outlander, Batman Begins & The Dark Knight) at a private online launch event.

Hollywood star Brian Cox says 19th century migrants to Dundee often faced conditions ‘beyond imagination’


Some of Scotland’s most renowned sons and daughters can be found within the collection, including fathers of nations, inventors and innovators, forgotten figures and much more. Examples include:

The death of General Mercer at the Battle of Princeton, 1777

Culloden veteran and revolutionary war hero Hugh Mercer: A career soldier and physician, Mercer initially served with the Jacobite forces of Bonnie Prince Charlie, the British forces during the Seven Years’ War, and later became a brigadier general in the American Continental Army and a close friend to George Washington.

Mercer died as a result of his wounds received at the Battle of Princeton and became a fallen hero as well as a rallying symbol of the American Revolution. The records document his baptism at Pitsligo, Aberdeenshire on 17th Jan 1726.

John Witherspoon

American founding father and Presbyterian minister John Witherspoon: Witherspoon embraced the concepts of Scottish common-sense realism, and while president of the College of New Jersey (1768–1794; now Princeton University) became an influential figure in the development of the United States’ national character.

Witherspoon was a delegate from New Jersey to the Second Continental Congress and a signatory to the July 4, 1776, Declaration of Independence, the only active clergyman to sign the Declaration.

The records capture his marriage to Elisabeth Montgomerie in Beith, Ayrshire on 14th Aug 1748.

Robert Louis Stevenson aged 7.

Novelist, essayist, poet and travel writer, Robert Lewis Balfour Stevenson: Best known for works such as Treasure Island, the Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and Kidnapped, Stevenson was born and educated in Edinburgh and travelled extensively throughout his life, dying in Samoa in 1894 at the age of 44.

A major celebrity in his lifetime, the popularity of Stevenson’s works has endured and in 2018 he was ranked, just behind Charles Dickens, as the 26th-most-translated author in the world. The record document is Edinburgh baptism in 1850.

Robert Burns

Scotland’s national poet, Robert Burns: Celebrated worldwide, he is the best known of the poets who have written in the Scots language and regarded as a pioneer of the Romantic movement.

After his death in 1796 he became a great source of inspiration to the founders of both liberalism and socialism, and a cultural icon in Scotland and among the Scottish diaspora around the world.

A native of Ayrshire, Burns can be found numerous times in the records including his 1759 Baptism, the 1785 baptism of his illegitimate daughter with Elizabeth Paton and his irregular marriage to Jean Armour in 1788.

Andrew Carnegie 1913

Titan of industry and celebrated philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie: Carnegie led the expansion of the American steel industry in the late 19th century and became one of the richest Americans in history.

During the last 18 years of his life, he gave away $350 million (roughly $5.2 billion in 2020), roughly 90% of his fortune to various charities, foundations, and institutions with special emphasis on local libraries, world peace, education, and scientific research.

Carnegie was born in Dunfermline in 1835 and emigrated to the United States with his parents in 1848 at age 12. Carnegie’s baptism and the marriage of his parents can both be found within the collection.

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