Findmypast Friday – 30 July 2021

Findmypast

 

Explore four centuries of Scottish baptisms, marriages and burials

Findmypast publish 10.7 million new records to create the largest collection of Scottish family history records available online

  • Explore your Scottish heritage with millions of new records, comprehensively transcribed and fully searchable online for the first time
  • Published on Findmypast thanks to the work of hundreds of passionate volunteers at local family history societies across Scotland
  • New records span 450 years of Scottish history and cover every parish in the country
  • Contains the vital details of Scots from all walks of life, including some of Scotland’s most influential sons and daughters, from fathers of nations to inventors and innovators, forgotten figures and much more

Leading UK family history website, Findmypast, has today announced the publication of a vast new online collection of “Old Parish Registers” in collaboration with local archives and organizations across Scotland.

Dating back to 1561 and spanning 450 years of Scottish history, the new collection contains more than 10.7 million historical documents chronicling baptisms, marriages, burials and more. This vast new online resource will allow family historians across the globe to uncover rare details of their ancestor’s lives and the stories behind major life events.

When combined with Findmypast’s existing collection of Scottish records and historical newspapers, today’s release firmly establishes Findmypast as the home of the largest collection of Scottish family history records available anywhere online, enabling users to explore their Scottish family tree in greater depth and detail than ever before.

This groundbreaking new resource is the result of Findmypast’s close collaboration with local family history societies, archives and volunteers from across the country. It brings together a wide variety of important historical records, many of which were previously inaccessible to public and are now fully searchable in new ways for the first time.

This includes records that not only reveal vital information on Scottish ancestors, but also provide valuable insights into parish life, including;

  • Records of non-conformist churches including the Episcopal, Free Church, United Free Church and more, fully indexed and searchable for the very first time
  • Newly published 20th century records (current online collections stop at 1855) that provide vital details of more recent ancestors, allowing users to uncover the details of previous generations and trace their family tree back from there
  • Rare “Irregular Marriages” from Kirk Sessions (those not officially recorded by the parish registers and conducted without a ceremony)
  • Mortcloth rentals, records of deceased Scots who were too poor to afford a proper burial, having to the hire the cloth that was placed over their coffin, or where original records no longer survive
  • “Ringings of the burial bell”, records of those too poor to even afford a mortcloth rental so instead paid for a ringing of the church bell in their memory

Today’s announcement forms a cornerstone of what is now most comprehensive collection of online records for Scotland ever assembled, covering every parish in every corner of the country.

This revolutionary new resource is the result of a collaborative project between Findmypast and volunteers at 9 Scottish local and national family history societies, including:

  • The Scottish Genealogy Society
  • Fife Family History Society
  • The Highland Family History Society
  • Dumfries & Galloway Family History Society
  • Renfrewshire Family History Society
  • Lothians Family History Society
  • Lanarkshire Family History Society
  • Glasgow & West of Scotland Family History Society
  • West Lothian Family History Society

Names, dates, locations, the names of parent’s, spouses, children and other biographical details such as occupations, residences and more were transcribed and then digitally converted thanks to the hard work of hundreds of Scottish family historians.

Some of Scotland’s most renowned sons and daughters can be found within the collection, including fathers of nations, inventors and innovators, forgotten figures and much more.

Myko Clelland, Regional Licensing & Outreach Manager at Findmypast said; “We are honoured to work with such a large number of outstanding organisations to make Scottish family history accessible worldwide. This has enabled Findmypast to not only illuminate the lives of influential Scots who have played pivotal roles in history, but also tell the stories of ordinary and often overlooked people who, through centuries of effort, have shaped the world we now live in and are responsible for everything we know and love as Scotland today.”

Celebrated Scots

Notable individuals found within the collection including;

Founding Fathers:

  • Culloden Veteran and Revolutionary War Hero Hugh Mercer – a career soldier and physician, Mercer initially served with the Jacobite forces of Bonnie Prince Charlie, the British forces during the Seven Years’ War, and later became a brigadier general in the American Continental Army and a close friend to George Washington. Mercer died as a result of his wounds received at the Battle of Princeton and became a fallen hero as well as a rallying symbol of the American Revolution. The records document his baptism at Pitsligo, Aberdeenshire on 17th Jan 1726.
  • American founding father and Presbyterian minister John Witherspoon, Witherspoon embraced the concepts of Scottish common-sense realism, and while president of the College of New Jersey (1768–1794; now Princeton University) became an influential figure in the development of the United States’ national character. Witherspoon was a delegate from New Jersey to the Second Continental Congress and a signatory to the July 4, 1776, Declaration of Independence, the only active clergyman to sign the Declaration. The records capture his marriage to Elisabeth Montgomerie in Beith, Ayrshire on 14th Aug 1748

Cultural icons:

  • Novelist, essayist, poet and travel writer, Robert Lewis Balfour Stevenson – best known for works such as Treasure Island, the Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and Kidnapped, Stevenson was born and educated in Edinburgh and travelled extensively throughout his life, dying in Samoa in 1894 at the age of 44. A major celebrity in his lifetime, the popularity of Stevenson’s works has endured and in 2018 he was ranked, just behind Charles Dickens, as the 26th-most-translated author in the world. The record document is Edinburgh baptism in 1850.
  • Scotland’s national poet, Robert Burns – celebrated worldwide, he is the best known of the poets who have written in the Scots language and regarded as a pioneer of the Romantic movement. After his death in 1796 he became a great source of inspiration to the founders of both liberalism and socialism, and a cultural icon in Scotland and among the Scottish diaspora around the world. A native of Ayrshire, Burns can be found numerous times in the records including his 1759 Baptism, the 1785 baptism of his illegitimate daughter with Elizabeth Paton and his irregular marriage to Jean Armour in 1788.

Inventors & Innovators:

  • Titan of industry and celebrated philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie – Carnegie led the expansion of the American steel industry in the late 19th century and became one of the richest Americans in history. During the last 18 years of his life, he gave away $350 million (roughly $5.2 billion in 2020), roughly 90% of his fortune to various charities, foundations, and institutions with special emphasis on local libraries, world peace, education, and scientific research. Carnegie was born in Dunfermline in 1835 and emigrated to the United States with his parents in 1848 at age 12. Carnegie’s baptism and the marriage of his parents can both be found withing the collection.
  • Inventor of the first practical telephone and co-founded the American Telephone and Telegraph Company, Alexander Graham Bell – born in Edinburgh in 1847, Edison’s early experiments with hearing devices eventually led to him being awarded the first U.S. patent for the telephone, on March 7, 1876. Despite the world-changing impact of his creation, Bell viewed it as an intrusion on his real work as a scientist and refused to have a telephone in his study. Bell and his parents can be found in an 1847 baptism record 23 years before the family emigrated to North America.

Forgotten figures

  • Scipio Kennedy, a slave taken as a child from Guinea in West Africa and brought to Scotland in 1702. Purchased at the age of five or six by Captain Andrew Douglas of Mains, Scipio served as a slave under his daughter, Jean, the wife of Sir John Kennedy, 2nd Baronet of Culzean in Ayrshire. He was granted his freedom in 1725, but continued to work for the Kennedy family and was given land on the estate. In 1728, Scipio was recorded as having fathered a daughter, Elizabeth, “by fornication” with Margaret Gray. Scipio married Margaret later that year and baptism records reveal the couple had a further seven children, and is known to have descendants living today.
  • Early feminist, socialist, abolitionist and social reformer, Frances Wright – baptized in Dundee in 1795, wright became a US citizen in 1825 and founded the Nashoba Commune in Tennessee, a utopian community designed to prepare slaves for eventual emancipation. Throughout her life, Wright campaigned for universal education, the emancipation of slaves, birth control, equal rights, sexual freedom, rights for married women, and liberal divorce laws. She was also vocal in her opposition to both organized religion and capital punishment and her radical views were constantly attacked by the press and members of the clergy.

Today’s announcement marks just the latest step in Findmypast’s Scotland expansion. Since 2019, over 200 million new records from across the country have been added to their ever-expanding Scottish database, making Findmypast one of the best places online to research your Scottish family tree.

Tamsin Todd, CEO of Findmypast said: Combining the largest collection of Scottish family history records available anywhere online with an expert customer service team based in Scotland and an active local community using our digital family history tools, Findmypast is the go-to website for anyone wanting to explore and share their Scottish heritage.

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