Wednesday, 4 February 2015

My new book - Down and Out in Scotland: Researching Ancestral Crisis

Heads up on my new book! The last t's are being crossed, i's being dotted, and so on, but my latest Scottish genealogy guide book from Unlock the Past (, due out shortly, is entitled Down and Out in Scotland: Researching Ancestral Crisis. The book will be available shortly via the Gould Genealogy website at - here's the blurb...

Down and Out in Scotland: Researching Ancestral Crisis

It is perhaps one of greatest truisms of family history research that we will often find that the lives of our ancestors were best documented when the chips were truly down. There were many battles that our forebears fought for and against in Scotland, both on a personal level and as a part of the society within which they lived. There were the laws of the local parish church and the punishments awaiting those who breached kirk discipline; the struggles to avoid poverty and the stigma of being a debtor; the darkest moments of the soul, from mental health issues and illness, to murder and suicide; and the dramatic moments of rebellion, when our forebears drew a line in the sand against a perceived tyranny or democratic deficit. Illness, death, bigamy, abandonment, accidents, eviction, ethnic cleansing – a dramatic range of challenges across a lifetime, and at times, outright tragedy.

But through all of these episodes, there is an even greater story that emerges, of how our ancestors overcame such hardships. In this latest Unlock the Past guide, genealogist Chris Paton goes in search of the records of ancestral hardship in Scotland, to allow us to truly understand the situations that our ancestors had to endure and overcome across the generations, to help us become the people who we are today.


1. Family events and relationships. 
 Illegitimacy .
 Foundlings, orphans and adoption .
 Marriage, bigamy and divorce .
 Homosexuality .
 Death . .
2. Law and order. 
 The Kirk .
 The Crown .
 Franchise and burgh courts .
 Criminal prosecution . .
 Murder .
 Additional courts .
 Police and prison records .
 Transportation .
 Execution .
3. Poverty. 
 The Old Poor Law . .
 The New Poor Law .
 The records .
4. Debt. 
 Put to the horn .
 Debts upon inheritance .
 Cessio bonorum and sequestration .
5. Medical problems. 
 Hospital records .
 Asylums .
 Suicide .
 Accidents .
6. Them and us. 
 The Covenanters and the Killing Time .
 The Jacobite rebellions .
 The expulsion of the Gael .
 The vote .
Further reading. 

Finally, don't forget also that the second revised and updated edition of my guide book Irish Family History Resources Online is also now available from Gould Genealogy at It will soon be available as an ebook also from

UPDATE: Down and Out in Scotland is now available in Canada and Australia - see


For details on my range of genealogy guide books please visit To commission me for genealogical research, please visit my research site at

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