Methodology: Sources

A quick guide to the sources that give access to the Registers. These principally comprise:

(A) Scotland

- Register of Births Marriages and Deaths 1855 to 2006.

- Census Returns online 1841 to 1911

- Register of Adoptions.

- Register of Divorces.

- Commissary records: Wills and Confirmations (English equivalent is Probates).

- Old Parish Registers pre 1855, the oldest commencing in 1553. It is well known that long before computerisation, as each Parish Register was completed, it was sent to Edinburgh. The Parish Records are very obsessive about illegitimacy so it is usual that searches further back in the male line are not possible.

(B) England and Wales

In England the date, and address, any year enables the ordering of statutory certificates by post or telephone. The national index is incomplete; however the registration system started a little earlier than in Scotland namely in 1837. At the moment therefore it is a scanned paper index that is available. Beyond that it is a matter of contacting County Records Offices once the index has shown a possible hit.

Edited Electoral Rolls for UK as a whole are available for a charge at website; a subsidiary of Yellow Pages. and of directory enquiries 118-119. Their 60 million names current and historic back to 2002 show address, google maps location, telephone number, the price of their house if registered on the Land Regiser, names and addresses of their neighbours, handy if they have moved on, and company directorships if any.

Army, Emigrant and other lists can be sought at, and there are other databases of naturalisations at the English National Records Office, Kew, and of old occupations at Rmhh. Not so out of the way as it seems, as the censuses give occupation. Other records such as army service records, old phone directories, etc can be got at

(C) Abroad.

Heirline may be able to trace a person who is not UK resident. Most European countries have a system requiring new residents to register with the police within a short period of taking up residence and these may be searched by contact with the consul in this country, for a fee. In the US, the website Intelius is a good start and, has an international facility and details of genealogists worldwide. Basically however it allows people to join up their family trees. Ancestry, an international website are attempting to use DNA to link up family trees and within twenty years everyone will be linked.