Thursday, 21 November 2019

Tracing Your Scottish Ancestry Through Church and State Records - out now!

I'm delighted to announce that my latest book from Pen and Sword, Tracing Your Scottish Ancestry Through Church and State Records has now been published and is available to buy via and other retailers.

Here is the blurb and the contents list:

Tracing Your Scottish Ancestry through Church and State Records: A Guide for Family Historians

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.




Chapter 1 – Research Resources
- National Records of Scotland
- ScotlandsPeople Centre
- Court of the Lord Lyon
- National Library of Scotland
- Historic Environment Scotland
- Registers of Scotland
- Scottish Council on Archives
- Scottish Archive Network
- National Register of Archives for Scotland
- FamilySearch Family History Centres
- Scottish Association of Family History Societies
- Commercial websites
- Handwriting
- Languages

Chapter 2 – Civil registration
- Establishment of Civil Registration
- Registration of Births
- Illegitimacy
- Locating Birth Records
- Minor Records of Births
- Stillbirths
- Adoption
- Vaccination
- Locating Vaccination Records
- Marriage
- Registration of Regular Marriages
- Irregular and Civil Marriages
- Locating Marriage Records
- Minor Records of Marriage
- Divorce
- Registration of Deaths
- Locating Death Records
- Minor Records of Death
- Register of Corrected Entries

Chapter 3 – Church of Scotland records
- Background
- Old Parish Registers (OPRs)
- Baptisms
- Naming patterns
- Foundlings
- Stillbirths in parish records
- Missing baptisms
- Marriages
- Marriage customs
- Irregular marriages
- Deaths and Burials
- Finding the records
- Kirk Session records
- Locating Kirk Session Records
- Presbytery, Synod and General Assembly
- Heritors

Chapter 4 – Other churches
- Switching churches
- Finding dissenter records
- Other Church Denominations
- Scottish Episcopal Church
- Locating Episcopal church records
- Roman Catholicism
- Locating the CPRs
- Smaller denominations

Chapter 5 - Where were they?
- Census records
- National Identity Register
- Electoral Registers
- Valuation Rolls
- Burgh assessment rolls
- Poor law records
- Tax records
- Inland Revenue Field Books
- Forfeited estates
- Maps
- The Statistical Accounts of Scotland
- Other gazetteers

Chapter 6 – Land tenure
- Scotland
- Feudalism
- Royal burghs
- Charters
- Instruments of Sasine
- The Registers of Sasines
- Liferents and Trusts
- Registers of Scotland
- Registers of Deeds
- Estate papers
- Tacksmen
- The end of feudalism
- Udal tenure
- Other forms of tenure

Chapter 7 – Inheritance
- Moveable estate
- Testaments
- Calendars of Confirmations and Inventories
- Heritable estate
- The Services of Heirs
- Precepts of Clare Constat
- Trust dispositions and settlements
- Types of Heir
- Ultimus haeres records

Chapter 8 – Law and Order
- Scots Law
- Sheriff Courts
- Privy Council
- Criminal prosecution
- Case Study: The Mount Stewart Murder
- Fatal Accident Enquiries
- Court of Session
- Debt
- Case Study: Matthew Campbell of Waterhaughs
- Bankruptcy
- Case study: John Brownlie MacFarlane
- Commissary Courts
- Franchise and burgh courts
- Trade incorporations
- Justices of the Peace
- Admiralty Court
- Court of the Lord Lyon
- Police and prison records
- Transportation
- Capital punishment

Bibliography / Further Reading




Order Tracing Your Irish Family History on the Internet (2nd ed) at My next Scotland 1750-1850: Beyond the OPRs course starts 4 November 2019 - see Further news published daily on The GENES Blog Facebook page, and on Twitter @genesblog.


  1. Boy, I'd love to order this now as I really need the Episcopal records section, but the shipping to the U.S. would cost me more than the cost of the book. :/

    It doesn't release over here until MARCH 2020.

  2. Sorry to hear that Bon, but hope you enjoy it when it is released in the US!

  3. Sorry to hear that Bon, but hope you enjoy it when it is released in the US!

  4. Sorry to hear that Bon, but hope you enjoy it when it is released in the US!

  5. Fortunately, I have an Amazon UK account (to buy presents for a British friend). I just ordered it from there. It's close to the same price and if lucky, I'll get it this month. If not, I'll still get it earlier than in the U.S.