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Tracing Your Scottish Ancestry through Church and State Records (Paperback)

A Guide for Family Historians

Local History Family History Scotland P&S History By Religion

By Chris Paton
Imprint: Pen & Sword Family History
Series: Tracing Your Ancestors
Pages: 162
Illustrations: 40
ISBN: 9781526768421
Published: 20th November 2019

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Despite its Union with England and Wales in 1707, Scotland remained virtually independent from its partners in many ways, retaining its own legal system, its own state church, and its own education system.

In Tracing Scottish Ancestry Through Church and State Records, genealogist Chris Paton examines the most common records used by family historians in Scotland, ranging from the vital records kept by the state and the various churches, the decennial censuses, tax records, registers of land ownership and inheritance, and records of law and order.

Through precepts of clare constat and ultimus haeres records, feudalism and udal tenure, to irregular marriages, penny weddings and records of sequestration, Chris Paton expertly explores the unique concepts and language within many Scottish records that are simply not found elsewhere within the British Isles. He details their purpose and the information recorded, the legal basis by which they were created, and where to find them both online and within Scotland's many archives and institutions.

I have traced family trees for many years, but always found Scottish records difficult to find and access. Consequently, I have tended to leave the Scottish branches of my family tree neglected.

This book clearly explains the background and usefulness of the Scottish record system and demystify the process of finding the records and tracing a Scottish family. I enjoyed reading this book and it has inspired me to pick up the gauntlet again and have another go with my ancestors in the north.

Read the full review here

Amazon Customer, Jayne

Author article: 'Family history on a budget' as featured by

WDYTYA? Magazine, April 2020

Handy new volume.

Family Tree, March 2020

As featured in

Bristol and Avon FHS

Chris Paton, author of Tracing Your Scottish Ancestry Through Church & State Records, was one of the top speakers at the Genealogy in the Sunshine conferences that I organised in Portugal in 2014 and 2015 - so I had very high hopes for his latest book.



I'm glad to say that I wasn't disappointed - it's an amazingly comprehensive guide that everyone with Scottish ancestry should have on their bookshelf. There are many differences between England and Scotland in matters like civil registration and marriage, but I suspect that there are more than a few researchers out there who don't appreciate just how different the systems were (and still are)... All in all this is an excellent book which will repay its cost many times over.

Read the full review here

Lost Cousins

Listed in resources part of author article 'Scottish civil registration' as featured by

WDYTYA? Magazine, March 2020

This is a thorough guide to Scotland's genealogical landscape and is a useful tool for researchers of the diaspora to have at hand.

Scottish Field, March 2020 - reviewed by Rosie Morton

"Overall, an essential book for anyone keen to discover more about their Scottish ancestors and a worthwhile read even for those with only a passing interest in Caledonian pursuits."

As featured by

Alde Valley Suffolk Family History Group

Expertly organized and presented, "Tracing Scottish Ancestry Through Church and State Records: A Guide For Family Historians" is the ideal instructional guide and reference for anyone doing genealogical research with Scottish records, making it an essential and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, and academic library Genealogical Studies reference collections.

Read the full review here

Midwest Book Review

'Here are our top reads for 2020'

Scotland magazine, February 2020

Author article 'Scottish poor law records' as featured by

WDYTYA? January 2020

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This is an excellent guide, exemplary in how it treats the sources relating to Scottish genealogy. Its subject matter is very clearly explained and it is thorough in its coverage. It does much more than introduce and signpost, providing evocative examples and tips for what to look out for along the way.

I approached the book as someone with a reasonable grounding in Scottish records and still learnt a lot. I gained a better understanding, for instance, of birth registration over the years and ways of finding legitimate and illegitimate births which do not readily come to light in the main record sources.

For someone new to the subject matter there will be quite a bit to digest - but the book will very much repay repeated visits.

Distinctive features of Scottish records and sources are brought out, which will be particularly useful to family researchers in the Scottish diaspora.

NetGalley, AliceMaud Mary

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I am doing my own research on my Scottish ancestry. that goes back centuries. I found this a most "definitive" guide to researching your Scottish Ancestry. I enjoyed finding all the resources the author thoughtfully included including up to date web sites and links to helpful web sites and every aspect of current ways to complete our research. This is a great way to get started or to delve deeper into your Scottish relatives history with up to date current research information. The author has even included a guide to understanding verbage and names which is very helpful indeed. Very well done to the author !

This is a guide I will utilize often and use in conjunction with library resources. This I highly recommend to all conducting your Scottish history research.

NetGalley, Cozy Cat Reviews

This will be a great addition to our libraries genealogy collection especially since it’s an updated resource that has websites for people to explore. I enjoyed reading it. It has wonderful descriptions of what different terms mean, when they are used and how to find them. I love all the links which I hope to use looking for my own family even though they go back farther in history than some of the dates listed in the book but it will give me a good starting point. I learned some new terms and ways to identify them in the records. Plus there are links for handwriting and language in the Scots history.

NetGalley, Ashley Pohlenz

About Chris Paton

Chris Paton is a genealogist and writer based in Ayrshire. He runs the Scotland’s Greatest Story research service at www.ScotlandsGreatestStory.co.uk. Formerly he was a television documentary maker and worked on history series such as War Walks, Secret History, Time Flyers and Meet the Ancestors. He is a regular writer for several British genealogy magazines and is currently completing a beginners’ guide to Scottish family history research. He also runs a Scottish genealogy news blog at www.ScottishAncestry.blogspot.com and gives regular talks to local family history societies.

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