Tracing Elusive Pre-1855 Scottish Ancestry
Did you know that hardly 50 percent of Scotland's pre-1855 population appear in Scotlandspeople.gov.uk's "Church Registers" database? Or, Did you know that by the year 1851, about 60 percent of our Scots ancestors were non-subscribing or dissenting church-goers outside of the Church of Scotland--the government-sponsored or established church? That's something we are not told when searching the "one-stop-shop" website that is www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk!
So what happened to the 'other half' of Scotland's population?
Let's say your ancestor[s] mame[s] rarely--if-ever--appear in Church of Scotland parish registers. What if they aligned themselves with a dissenting (or Nonconfomforist congregation, or were non-Church of Scotland people who belonged to a non-subscribing Presbyterian faith/denomination? So naturally you then ask: How do I trace such Scottish ancestry in pre-1855?
Seven-Steps to Finding Elusive Pre-1855 Scottish Ancestry
Here are the very next-steps you must take to find further ancestral info when a name does not appear in Scotlandspeople.gov.uk Church Registers (pre-1855). These next steps are—
1) Search FamilySearch.org's Family History Library's Scottish Church Records Database Scotland Church Database index (located at FamilySearch Centers in North America, Australia/NewZealand and in the some other FSC worldwide; find at "Get Help" and Local on the F.S. website). Their old DOS-based database index contains some names from both non-parochial and non-seceder (Presbyterian-based) church registers
2) Then check the FHL online Catalog under the parish name to see what nonconformist/non-subscribing Presbyterian church registers the FHL holds; then register with FamilySearch (it's free) to search these microfilm scans which can be done mostly at home. Note: FHL hold only between 5-10%.
3) Scotland’s Peoples’ New Register House in Edinburgh (Princes Street) holds many (but not all dissenting and non-subscribing Presbyterian church registers)
4) Search the Kirk Session (church court) records at selected regional archives.
5) Local/Regional archives, such as Dundee City Archives or Strathclyde Regional Archives, etc., online catalog[s] to see what holdings they possess in the way of all nonconformist and non-subscribing Presbyterian church registers in their respective holdings. [Hint: can Google! to find a list of all Scottish Regional or local archives with links to addresses, online catalogs and email addresses.]
6) Google! To find online transcriptions of some church registers, i.e. Scottish Episcopal registers or Reformed Presbyterian registers, etc.
7) Google! To find the target chapel/church’s website/page. Then email to inquire of the registers’ location; then ask if you can make a donation to request a lookup (one upfront, then a follow-up donation after the search has been completed—otherwise you may lose your upfront donated monies); or, the other alternative is to then hire a professional genealogist to go visit the church to the search registers. The funnest way is to fly there, and go visit and search the church and its registers yourself--in person!