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Sunday, 16 September 2012

A-Z Challenge - S for Scotlands People & Places, Statistical Acocunts, Sadness & Sisters Records

A-Z of Family History Sources & Stories 
Join me on this A-Z journey to explore the fascinating records 
that can  enhance your family history research and writing.

SCOTLANDS' PEOPLEis the definitive site for anyone researching Scottish ancestry, and the only one to date which offers digital, downloadable records.  

The website at  www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk features old parish records (pre-1855), census returns, statutory BMD - wills,  catholic registers, and a more recent feature valuation rolls of property + much more e.g. research tools and background information. 

A pay-as-you-view site where you buy 30 credits for £7.  Search results only cost 1 credit (23p), but to view the actual record costs 5 credits (£1.16), which is where you can soon go through your purchase.  if you click to view on a wrong record.

A tip - as I have a subscription to Ancestry, I search initially on this to establish which record is "my" family, before paying to view and download the right record from ScotlandsPeople.

SCOTLANDS' PLACES is a much lesser known site at www.scotlandsplaces.gov.uk.   The website  allows  you   to search across different national databases using geographic locations. It features historical buildings and monuments,  gazetteers, name books  & maps and of particular  interest largely unknown tax records from the 17th and 18th centuries.  e.g. window tax, hearth tax,  carriage tax, male and female servant tax rolls, horse tax, cart tax, clock & watch tax, non-working dog tax, and farm horse tax.  Well worth looking at for their curiosity value!      A subscription site.                                                                                        

STATISTICAL ACCOUNTS - Written by each parish minister  they give a contemporary  account of life at the time, with the first edition published 1791-99 and the "New Statistical Account" 1834-45.    They tell you how many paupers, cattle, sheep, horses,  etc. were in the parish,  give details on the land,  trades and occupations, the school, and the church, with frank comments on "miserable hovels", "the church roof leaks rain  on the congregation"  and "there is a want of fuel in winter".

if you have Scottish ancestors  these are "a  must see" rich  source of background information.  Take a look at http://stat-acc-scot.edina.ac.uk/sas/sas.asp?action=public

SADNESS, SOLEMNITY & SISTERS  are all sources of family history stories,  illustrated in this photograph of the MacFarlane family of nine sisters (Bridget, Kate, Mary, Ellen, Sarah, Annie, Jane, Maggie and Jemima)  and one brother  (Patrick), with their mother Annie.  The dark clothes and solemn expressions, with their mother holding a bible or prayer book suggest this was on the occasion of a funeral.   The style of dress and the estimated age of the youngest daughter indicated c.1910 and I believe this was taken after the death of their father James in 1912. 

SURNAMES always fascinate me. Whenever I come across an unusual name in the news etc., my immediate reaction is - "I would love to research that". Two examples come to mind - in my own Scottish Borders the surname Govanlock and in my home county of Lancashire Sturzacker.  What is the background to such distinctive names?  One of the many challenges from my "to do" list I  would like to explore further. 

SIGNATURES - how great to have something actually penned by an ancestor, even if it is a   photocopy - such as the wills found in the Lancashire Archives. signed by my g.g.g.g.grandfather  (dated 1813) and g.g.g. grandfather (dated 1833).  In this age of electronic communication  when handwriting is becoming a dead art, will our descendants have this experience?.  

And finally  
  • School Records  have a look here  at an earlier post for further information
  • Sasines - Scottish property records.

Onto T for Tributes & Taxation 

Copyright © 2015 · Susan Donaldson.  All Rights Reserved  



  1. That is a very sad list of losses and the photograph taken of the widow and 10 children after the death of her husband, also sad.

    Good list of Ss.

  2. I like how you found so many "S" words and how appropriate they are to genealogy research. Well done!

  3. Sadly sweet, such stunning s's!

  4. All such valid genealogy-related S words. And big thanks for the tip on Statistical Accounts, I haven't followed my hubby's Scottish lines yet, but shall be sure to check out these records when doing so.

  5. What a remarkable family of all those sisters! I enjoyed your S post.

  6. Of a surety there is no shortage of S words :-) I "liked" the one of the whole family dressed in mourning clothes, certainly a help to dating the photo. I remember being thrilled to bits with my first signature of an ancestor, and another from the mid-18th century.

  7. Oh Susan... Another FABULOUS post and what an amzing number of S's you came up with. Has certainly got my old "brain box" fired up. Thanks :-)


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