Monday, 31 May 2010

Changes to our website

We added the census search facility in a bit of a rush last September; just before a family history fair. At that time we did not know whether or not we would be keeping it online. Because it was done this way the search has no help buttons or explanation and the notes column can be a bit confusing, especially if you are new to genealogy. For this reason we have decided it’s time to update the site a bit.

Anyway we’ll be working on it for a few weeks but if you have any ideas please let us know, or take our survey and let us know what you think that way: Click here to take survey

From coast to coast

Graham has now embarked on the transcribing of the 1851 Wigtownshire census. Once Wigtownshire and Kirkcudbrightshire are complete we will go from coast to coast!

The online census database was updated on Sunday by the way. The update has added 1851 Carmunnock, Lanarkshire and part of 1851 Hamilton, Lanarkshire, as well some more household links and notes.

Graham’s working on loads of things at the moment so we’ll let you know when our next publications are available.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Looking for a piece of Scotland?

It seems that once people start to learn about their Scottish family they want a wee bit of Scotland to come to them, no matter where they are in the world. All to often, though, it pains me to see for sale objects that although perhaps presented in tartan really have no relation to Scotland, or no genuine connection anyway. To be honest if your ancestors lived in southern Scotland in the 1800’s they were very unlikely to have ever worn a kilt! Sorry if this changes your perception of Scotland.

It is possible to have something that is genuinely Scottish though, something with a real connection. There is a lovely wee shop in Innerleithen, Peeblesshire that was recently featured on the BBC’s “Antiques Road Trip”. It is called Keepsakes and features many Scottish items, particularly pottery and postcards. Have a wee browse around the Keepsakes internet shop and see if you can find a little piece of Scotland to sit in your house and remind you where you came from.

Keepsakes Shop


Scottish items

Another reason to use our census search

Some people wonder why we continue to transcribe and publish census books when there are other commercial sites also transcribing and indexing the census for the whole of Scotland. Are these large scale projects not better?

Well there is no doubt that there is some advantage in being able to search the entire country but is this really as complete a search as you think? There are a number of occasions when one ore more entries are unreadable on the microfilms. The are various reasons for this. Sometimes two pages may have been turned accidently during filming or for some reason entries are difficult to read with faint or faded writing.

Graham has just been transcribing the 1851 census for Carmunnock, Lanarkshire. It would appear that some years ago (in less enlightened days perhaps) a rough repair was done on enumeration book 3. Some tape was used on the page and then when the book was filmed it appears as a white space. To ensure a high quality transcription Graham asked to see the original book while he was in Edinburgh and was able to see through the tape against the light and transcribe the entry correctly.

This is the entry:

Margaret Whyte – Head – Unmarried – 26 – Laundress – born Carmunnock, Lanarkshire

This entry will appear in the published transcription once we have proofread the book but in the meantime if you have a few moments check for yourself and see if any of the other major commercial census sites have made the effort to look at the original book and provide a full and accurate transcription.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Uses for the prison indexes

So we have spoken a lot about the prison indexes adding colour to your family tree but they may add even more than that. I came across this post on

Quiet a familiar situation, born Ireland no further information. Where do you start? Is this the end of the line? Well as you can see from the post I made our prison index gives a County in Ireland. Now the family will have a chance of tracing their Irish ancestors.

So if you have Irish ancestors living in Scotland have a look at our prison indexes and see if we can unlock your little mysteries.

Visit our bookshop now

Friday, 21 May 2010

Peebles Prison Index now on sale

Well we spent two days researching in Edinburgh this week but I did manage to take a few minutes to sit in Princes Street Gardens and enjoy the sunshine. It has been such a long winter it’s wonderful to have some warmth. The census database has been updated again; update has added 1861 Stow, Midlothian, as well some minor corrections and more household links and notes.

Peebles prison index is now finished and should be available on the website shortly:

Monday, 17 May 2010

Special Offer – Edinburgh Archives research –This week only

Graham and I will be at various archives around Edinburgh this week and have a bit of spare time; if you need some research we are charging just ten pounds per hour (about 15 US dollars).

See our website for more information or just get in touch directly.



Outside the UK: +44 1461 800383

From the UK: 01461 800 383


Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Use of Maiden Surname in Scotland

I came across this question today on

“Can someone please clarify something for me?

When a woman married in Scotland, did she always retain her m.s. name?”

I thought the answer might be of use to everybody who reads this blog so here it is:

Yes, this can be a little confusing but also helpful when you understand what’s going on.

In Scotland a married woman can legally be known by both her maiden name and her husband’s name. In fact on gravestones it is usually a woman’s maiden name that will appear and it will say something like “wife of John Smith”. This still happens to this day.

In the census it is a little more haphazard, usually she will be listed with her married name but it is not unusual to see a maiden name. The 1841 census can therefore be confusing as there are no relationships listed but then again in most families it is quite obvious.

In our own census indexing project we have indexed these women under both married and maiden name (when it is obvious) to save confusion. We have added an alternative surname column too.

So if you do come across the maiden name in the census it will make it much easier to find a marriage.

Another thing to remember is that if the woman is a widow the chances of her being listed under her maiden name increases dramatically and if you don’t know what to look for these widows can be hard to find. I usually look for her children in the hope she is living with one of them.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

1841 census of Glencairn now on sale

We have completed another parish in our census transcription project. This time it the Dumfriesshire parish of Glencairn (which includes Moniaive). The full transcription of this parish is on sale in our bookshop at just £8.99 and remember if you pay by Paypal you will receive free postage!

Buy this census book today!