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BritainUSA Home > All about Britain > Scotland

How can I find out about my Scottish ancestors?
IT Project Team, New York,

Included here are commercial as well as official sources of information relevant to genealogical research.

Useful Online Resources
Scottish Tourist Board's genealogy site. Searches are based on data from 1881 Census held by the General Register Office for Scotland. You can search on surname, place name or parish to obtain a link to tourism information for the area of Scotland where your ancestors lived.

Birth, Marriage and Death Certificates

Certificates are available by mail, fax, telephone and in person from:

The General Register Office for Scotland
New Register House
Edinburgh EH1 3YT
Tel: +44 131 314 4411
Fax: +44 131 314 4400
13.00 standard service
23.00 priority service (dispatched next working day)

Divorce Decrees

The General Register Office for Scotland supplies information on divorce decrees later than May 1984. For information on earlier decrees, or to request material by mail, contact:

Extractor of the Court of Session
2 Parliament Square
Edinburgh EH1 1RF


A general overview of Scottish wills and how to obtain them is available on the National Archive of Scotland web site.

To obtain a will dated before 1985, enquirers are advised to contact:

HM General Register Office
HM General Register House
Princes Street
Edinburgh EH1 3YY
Tel: +44 131 535 1352

Wills dated after 1985 are available from:

HM Commissary Office
27 Chambers Street
Edinburgh EH1 1LB
Tel: +44 131 247 2850

Armed Forces Service Records

Enquirers are advised that the Ministry of Defense does not normally release information from a service record to persons other than the individual concerned or their next of kin.

Information on obtaining British Army service records, medals and information is available on the Ministry of Defense website.

Royal Navy
Information on obtaining Royal Navy service records, medals and information is available on the Ministry of Defense website.

Royal Air Force
Information on obtaining Royal Air Force service records, medals and information is available on the Ministry of Defense website.

Royal Marines
Information on obtaining Royal Marines service records, medals and information is available on the Ministry of Defense website.

Other Public Records

Copies of material such as legal documents, property and succession records, census returns, taxation records, some passenger lists, old parish registers, nonconformist registers etc. should be sought from the offices listed below.

National Archives of Scotland
HM General Register House
Edinburgh EH1 3YY
Tel: +44 131 535 1334

General Register Office for Scotland
Ladywell House
Ladywell Road
Edinburgh EH12 7TF
Tel: +44 131 314 4433

Genealogical Researchers

No government offices in the United Kingdom are able to undertake genealogical research. Enquirers wishing to enlist the services of an independent agent to conduct research on their behalf should request from the appropriate Record Office (see above) a list of reputable researchers. In addition, the association listed below will provide lists of their members, and commercial research agencies may be enlisted directly to conduct research. Please note that some organizations may require the enclosure of International Reply Coupons (not US postage stamps), which can be purchased from any US post office, to cover the cost of a reply.

A commercial researcher in the UK will need to be told the full name of the first ancestor who left Britain, the district from which they came, and, if possible, their occupation. If this information is not known, Genealogical Collections at Libraries in the US, and American Genealogical Societies (see sections below) may be able to help trace ancestors back to their first arrival in this country.

The Scots Ancestry Research Society
29B Albany Street
Edinburgh EH1 3QN
Tel: +44 131 556 4220

A society established in 1945 to assist people of Scottish ancestry to trace genealogical records. Fees are dependant on the duration of research.

Useful Organizations

Court of the Lord Lyon
HM New Register House
Edinburgh EH1 3YT
Tel: +44 131 556 7255
Official registry of armorial bearings and pedigrees for Scotland.

Scottish Tartans Society
Teallach House
Tayside PH16 5ND
Tel: +44 1796 474079
Records of the origins, history and development of the tartans of Scotland.

Street Maps and Maps Showing British Counties, Cities, Towns and Villages

Scottish Maps, Regions and Places

The information above is specific to Scotland. For information relating to England, Wales, Northern Ireland or the United Kingdom as a whole please refer to How can I trace my British ancestors?

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