Guide to Scottish Genealogy
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Other Sources of Information

Fortunately, in addition to New Register House, Edinburgh provides many rich sources of information.

It is not possible to cover every possibility, but the following gives a flavour of what is on offer:

National Archives of Scotland

Immediately adjacent to New Register House in Princes Street, is the repository for an enormous variety of sources, including wills, testaments and inventories dating back as far as 1514 . If your ancestor made a testament, you will gain an understanding not only of his/her social and financial status, but also possibly an insight into how they were involved on a personal level with other members of the family. If an inventory is attached, you will have a list of all their possessions in the house when they died.

The National Archives also has the Register of Sasines (tracing changes in land ownership) and Services of Heirs ( dealing with issues of succession).

It is also worth checking out the minutes of Kirk Session records. They provide a fascinating view of the moral and especially sexual concerns of the time. The records frequently detail cases of named individuals being brought before the kirk session and fined or chastised for illicit sexual dalliance! You may also be fortunate to find an account for the hire of a mortcloth to a family- indicating an approximate date for a death not otherwise included in the pre-1855 OPRs.

TIP 1: Although entry to the National Archives is free, many of the records are stored elsewhere, and you may have to order the records you want to see and return a day or two later to view them. Indeed, so extensive is the collection, that some classes of records, such as maps and architect drawings  are now housed in West Register House, at the opposite end of Princes Street.

Reference Libraries and local libraries

Reference libraries, particularly the Edinburgh Central Library and the Mitchell Library in Glasgow, but also in other cities and towns, are a rich source of local history.

Of special interest are:

Specialist Museums

Scotland has a huge variety of museums, from the recently-expanded Scottish National Museum in Chambers Street, Edinburgh, which covers all aspects of Scottish life, to museums devoted to particular trades or professions - crofting and farming, fishing, mining, textiles, transport and distilling and brewing.

There are also a number of 'domestic' museums, where a house or farm has been restored to its former condition, providing the visitor with an insight into a way of life long gone. These range from the splendour of  the Georgian House in Charlotte Square, Edinburgh (providing a fascinating comparison of life 'Upstairs and Downstairs') to the Highland Folk Museum at Kingussie, giving a feel for farming life.

If your ancestors were in the armed services, and you know the regiment, you may find it worthwhile to contact the appropriate Regimental Museum. By prior arrangement, you may be allowed to examine the original war diaries.

These are:
  • Scottish United Services Museum at Edinburgh Castle
  • Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders at Stirling Castle  (
  • Black Watch at Balhousie Castle, Perth
  • Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) in Hamilton
  • Gordon Highlanders in Aberdeen
  • Queen's Own Highlanders at Fort George, Inverness
  • Royal Highland Fusiliers (including Royal Scots Fusiliers, Highland Light Infantry, and Royal Highland Fusiliers) in Glasgow
  • Royal Scots Dragoon Guards at Edinburgh Castle
  • Scottish Horse at Dunkeld.

Edinburgh Castle as seen from Princes Street Gardens

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