Tales from the Archives

Stories and interesting facts from Scottish genealogy
Warlocks and Scandal in West Calder
Carol McKinvenJuly 04, 2018
Image of Church of Scotland elders meeting in the Kirk Session

We were reminded again recently how useful, and fascinating, Kirk Session records can be - and how easy it can be, when working page by page through the unindexed records, to get sidetracked by an interesting story or two. This blog post looks at two records from the West Calder Kirk Session of the 1670s: perhaps some of the names will be familiar to those with West Calder and Mid Calder roots.

Behind bars
Carol McKinvenJanuary 17, 2018
Image of a gavel and law books

We may not like to find that our ancestor spent time in a nineteenth-century Scottish prison - particularly depending on the charge that brought them there - but the records can be a great source of information. Prison records have been occupying much of our research over the past few weeks and this blog post takes a look at how the prison registers can add a physical description and more to your family history research.

A tale from the Kirk Session
Carol McKinvenNovember 14, 2017
Image of Church of Scotland elders meeting in the Kirk Session

When researching Scottish family history, advice sometimes turns to using the Kirk Session records. Here we use a specific record from a Kirkcaldy Kirk Session to show how useful these records can be - and how sometimes they can give information not available in other ways.

Three times married and only twenty-five
Carol McKinvenApril 20, 2017
Image of an open book

I’m sometimes asked how I started researching Scottish bigamy - was it something in my own family history? So I thought for this blog I’d share the story that first got me started on the topic.

Keeping it in the family
Carol McKinvenJanuary 18, 2017
Image of three wedding rings

As many of you know, I normally research bigamy in Scotland. Reports from other countries sometimes catch my attention, however, and this one from 1867 in southern England was a very curious tale.

Reminiscences and photos
Carol McKinvenOctober 02, 2016
Image of old photo album

Photographs and images can add so much to your family history research - many of us have family photographs for a couple of generations back. Images of famous places and people are also pretty easy to find. But what if you'd like to know about how and where more distant ancestors lived? In this blog, we look at one source of images you might not have come across before and which could give greater understanding of how your grandparents and great grandparents lived.

Battle of Jutland remembered in Queensferry
Carol McKinvenMay 31, 2016
Queensferry memorial to Jutland

Today marks the centenary of the Battle of Jutland, the only major sea battle of World War One. More than 6,000 British and 2,500 German men and boys lost their lives as a result of the battle off the coast of Denmark. Other casualties received medical treatment at the Royal Naval Hospital, Queensferry.

Hard times in Dalmeny Rows
Carol McKinvenMarch 29, 2016
Image of mine pithead

Shale mining could be a dangerous occupation. In 1895 the Fatal Accidents Inquiry (Scotland) Act was introduced, which allowed for public inquiries into industrial accidents resulting in a death. Although the records were created as a result of sad events, they can help us to find out more about ancestors who were involved in the accidents.

The traditional Scottish naming system
Carol McKinvenFebruary 15, 2016
Image of a family of gingerbread figures

Have you ever wondered why so many people in your Scottish family history research have the same first name? Or why so many middle names look like surnames? It could be thanks to the traditional Scottish naming pattern.

Dalmeny Shale Voters
Carol McKinvenJanuary 30, 2016
Image of books in a library

Scottish Kin’s free Dalmeny Rows database has a new section for the Voters Rolls for 1914 and for most years between 1921 and 1929.

Mac or Mc?
Carol McKinvenJanuary 28, 2016
Image showing the words Mac and Mc

Those of us researching Scottish surnames beginning with either Mac or Mc quickly become aware of the additional challenges these names can bring for search engines, record indexes and genealogy & family history databases.

Two tales from the Forth Bridge
Carol McKinvenJanuary 10, 2016
Image of Inchgarvie Lighthouse under the Forth Bridge

How the Forth Bridge changed the lives of two sisters.

New Year, new blog
Carol McKinvenJanuary 03, 2016
Image of fireworks representing the New Year for Scottish Kin

A new year and a new blog for Scottish Kin! We will bring you a mixture of hints and tips for those who are researching their own Scottish family history; occasional news items from the world of Scottish genealogy research; and interesting stories about Scottish ancestors that we come across in our genealogy travels around Scotland and research in the archives.

On This Day

13 Jul 1811: James “Paraffin” Young, chemist who patented a method to extract oil from cannel coal leading to the development of the Scottish shale oil industry in the 19th century, was born in Glasgow

Scottish Words

Guddle: An untidy or messy place
Martinmas: 11th November
But and Ben: Old rural cottage with two rooms, usually (living) room and kitchen


These [records] are fascinating, and it's good to know that that batch of family stories ties up!

DM, Edinburgh