Searching for Scottish Ancestors – a personal journey

Edinburgh in November – a great time for visitors who are Searching for  Scottish Ancestors.  The city is a little quieter before we gear up for the Christmas and New Year celebrations. Therefore making it an ideal time for visitors who are looking to do some research into their Family Tree.

Searching for ancestors at Warriston Cemetery
Researching your Scottish Ancestors

On Twitter recently, we were having a chat about spooky things to do in October. A thread of conversation popped up about The Red Lady of Warriston Cemetery.  This triggered a memory of an aunt of mine talking about going to visit her granny’s grave, and having to pass the grave of the Red Lady.  A quick search on Google, and I was able to see some images of the grave which had been a magnificent memorial in its day. However now sadly been vandalised beyond recognition.

Of course, it’s not the Red Lady who is my relative, but just that the Red Lady is a grave which my aunt passed by. Given that I thought that the relative in question was buried in a different cemetery, it’s another clue in my journey to discover more about one particular person who fascinates me in my own family.

Searching for Scottish Ancestors

If you are looking to conduct research into your family tree and find out who your ancestors are the best place to start would be by asking your living relatives.

A considerable amount of information can be found online using sites such as Familysearch which is free. However any information you find about your family on this site should always be verified by checking the original document. This site is not always accurate.

One of the best sites to use for ancestral research if your family are from Scotland or you have Scottish Ancestors is ScotlandsPeople. If you use this site online you will pay a fee for each record you view. The disadvantage is you may end up paying to view a record that is not relevant. The way round this is to pay the £15 daily rate and access the site at the National Records of Scotland situated at the east end of Princes Street. 

You can get access to census records from 1841 to 1921. Births, Deaths, Marriages, as well as Old Parish Records.

You can also join the Scottish Genealogy Society and get access to their library in Victoria Terrace. Their friendly staff are always on hand to help. The annual membership fee is £20. 

The Scottish Genealogy Society is located at the far end of Victoria Terrace (picture below)

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The National Library of Scotland situated on George IV Bridge is also a good source of information. However you have to join. You also need to know what you want to access before you get there. Details on how to use the library and what you are allowed to take in can be obtained from the website.

Other sites I have used include Ancestry which I found has mainly English records. FindmyPast is a good site for information such as Military Records and newspaper articles using the British Newspaper Archives. (You can access the British Newspaper Archives free if you are a member of the National Library)

Post updated April 2024

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