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Tracing Your Scottish Family History on the Internet (Paperback)

A Guide for Family Historians

Family History World History > UK & Ireland > Scotland

By Chris Paton
Imprint: Pen & Sword Family History
Series: Tracing Your Ancestors
Pages: 192
Illustrations: 40 black and white illustrations
ISBN: 9781526768384
Published: 18th May 2020
Last Released: 1st April 2022


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Scotland is a land with a proud and centuries long history that far pre-dates its membership of Great Britain and the United Kingdom. Today in the 21st century it is also a land that has done much to make its historical records accessible, to help those with Caledonian ancestry trace their roots back to earlier times and a world long past.

In Tracing Scottish Family History on the Internet, Chris Paton expertly guides the family historian through the many Scottish records offerings available, but also cautions the reader that not every record is online, providing detailed advice on how to use web based finding aids to locate further material across the country and beyond. He also examines social networking and the many DNA platforms that are currently further revolutionising online Scottish research.

From the Scottish Government websites offering access to our most important national records, to the holdings of local archives, libraries, family history societies, and online vendors, Chris Paton takes the reader across Scotland, from the Highlands and Islands, through the Central Belt and the Lowlands, and across the diaspora, to explore the various flavours of Scottishness that have bound us together as a nation for so long.

As featured in

Who Do You Think You Are

Reviewer: Andrea Hewitt

Chris begins by introducing readers to the 3 major ‘gateways’ that will enable you to access your Scottish ancestors: Scotland’s People, the National Records of Scotland and the Scottish Archive Network, he gives clear advice on what they offer and how to make use of each of the websites.

The guide contains lists and details of numerous websites featuring local directories, newspapers, maps and biographies, which will be invaluable when researching your Scottish roots.

In my own research I had been confused by the use of ‘tee’ names, (nicknames for surnames) and also the unusual way the Scots sometimes used ‘pet names’ (nicknames for forenames) so I was pleased to note that Chris gives guidance on this. I have no doubt his advice could save you time, and perhaps even money spent on your research!

This guide is an excellent resource not only for the beginner researching their Scottish relatives, but also for those who have ‘done their family tree’ as they could find out so much more by using the information it contains. It has 167 pages with a useful index and a further reading list.

The Essex Family Historian, August 2022

As seen on the cover of

The Essex Family Historian, August 2022

As featured in

Family Tree

This book is exactly what it says it is. It has many, many resources and strategies for researching your family line in Scotland. I would recommend it.

NetGalley, Naomi Sutherland

Whether your ancestors came from the Highlands, Lowlands or the Scottish Isles, it is likely that the Scottish government websites will contain records to help you with your genealogical research. The author takes the reader through the types of records that are available, where to find them, and where to go next as you continue your research. The book is well-written, easy to follow and includes a vast number of resources.

NetGalley, Kerrie Hoar

Overall, the book is well organised and provides some terrific information not normally covered in a genealogy reference guide, often being separate volumes on their own.

Your Genealogy Today

Tracing Your Scottish Family History On the Internet by Chris Paton is a valuable addition to my bookshelf and will no doubt be regularly consulted when trying to find out more about my own Scots ancestors.

Read the full review here

Nosey Genealogist

An invaluable tome for the serious researcher and amateur alike. If I had to choose one book to recommend to family historians with Scottish links, this would be the one. Absolutely invaluable.

Glasgow and West of Scotland FHS, September 2020

Having read Chris Paton's other book about tracing Scottish ancestors through church and state records, I was keen to add this book to my collection as I live a long way from Scotland and internet research is definitely the way to go for me. Having been encouraged to take up the study of my northern ancestors again by the previous book, this one has given me even more sources to follow.

I found it useful to examine the shape of the Scottish population in terms of common occupations and scattered pockets of Scottish migrants in other parts of the world. The section detailing resources for each different Scottish county is particularly helpful, enabling me to search some indexes I was hitherto not aware of. As with the other book, I found the most help in immersing myself in the Scottish records and trying new avenues, resulting in pleasing strides forward on my family tree. Thank you Chris Paton.

Read the full review here

Amazon Customer, Jayne

This book was very useful in helping me with my Genealogy project. In the UK the main thrust for searching relates to English family tree information but the Scottish have their own archives and documentation. The Church and the legal system are different in Scotland.
This book explains so many helpful elements in a clear concise way and thankfully without being boring. I’d certainly recommend this book to those starting out trying to trace the Scottish line in their family.

NetGalley, Lou Williamson

Chris Paton is a genealogist and writer whose practical knowledge of researching Scottish records never ceases to amaze me – so I had high expectations of his latest book, Tracing Your Scottish Family History on the Internet: A Guide For Family Historians. I was not disappointed – it's a superb book from a researcher who has numerous books and countless magazine articles to his name. (He's also a brilliant speaker, as anyone who attended my Genealogy in the Sunshine conferences will know.)... Highly recommended, Tracing Your Scottish Family History on the Internet is available as a conventional paperback or as a Kindle e-book.

Read the full review here

Lost Cousins

Well I’ve been looking forward to this book for ages, having come from a Scottish background and delved into my family tree before I really wanted to review this book in the hope that it helps me out with my family research. I have previously reviewed the Irish Version too as well as the book that looked at people from the Asylum. These are fantastic books because they give you so much information, this book is split into Gateways and Institutions, Actual Places, Other Sources, Occupations and finally it then goes county by county through Scotland. But the best thing that it does is that it provides so many links via the internet to help your search, and of course if you living away from where your ancestors originated from this is vital as you can look from your own home.

The book is well laid out and explained, it’s just so simple to read and really does help especially as ancestry research can often be complicated at the best of times. Chris Paton writes these books so well they really do help you do what it says on the cover, because I use them for my own family research. The pictures in this book vary between pictures of old relatives, sites to visit for specific research and website images to help you along. I would definitely recommend these books to others and I think they are so good I would give this copy a 5 star rating.

Read the full review here

UK Historian

Great new reference book for tracing Scottish. Many Many connections to online data bases. You need this book if you are tracing your family. Great Job!

NetGalley, Lou Davis

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

An excellent book full of usefully information on how and where to search for your Scottish ancestors. This is a great ‘go to ‘ reference book for beginners or experienced family history researchers. Not only that but it is an interesting dip in read too.

NetGalley, Cath P

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This book is an amazing resource for the beginning genealogist tracing their Scottish roots. It lists many sources available for users to discover their roots, no matter what country you currently reside. It took a library reference course and many of the resources would be those that librarians would suggest to patrons looking into genealogy. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in getting started in discovering their family tree.

NetGalley, Tricia Read

About Chris Paton

Originally from Carrickfergus on the outskirts of Belfast, genealogist and writer Chris Paton is today based in Ayrshire, Scotland, where he runs the Scotland’s Greatest Story research service at www.scotlandsgreateststory.co.uk. As well as contributing to many of the UK’s best known family history magazines, he also writes for his own Scottish GENES news blog at www.scottishgenes.blogspot.com, and regularly gives talks to family history societies across the UK and worldwide. His previous Pen and Sword publications include Tracing Your Irish Ancestors Through Land Records, Tracing Your Irish Family History on the Internet (2nd edition), Tracing Scottish Ancestry Through Church and State Records, Tracing Your Scottish Family History on the Internet, and Sharing Your Family History Online.

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