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Scottish Indexes Conference VII - 6 December 2020 (update 19 November 2020)

During 2020 we have been hosting a series of free Scottish genealogy events, a series of conferences designed to help you trace your Scottish family tree.

A highlight of the December 2020 Scottish Indexes Conference will be ‘Your Burning DNA Questions’, a presentation by one of Scotland’s leading genealogists, Michelle Leonard, which will answer DNA questions. Watch the video below where Michelle explains her idea, then post your questions in the Facebook group.

Registration Instructions

Facebook: This is an easy way to watch and interact with the presenters and attendees of the Scottish Indexes Conference. It is also possible to cast the conference to a TV which makes viewing more comfortable. Click here to join the Scottish Indexes Facebook Group.

Zoom: Many of us are now more familiar with Zoom than we were back in April when we held our first conference. We have now expanded our package so there is plenty of capacity if you would prefer to watch on Zoom. Click here to register on Zoom.


The conference is completely free and we don’t even have a recommended donation. If you want to learn about Scottish genealogy we want you to attend. Obviously, there are expenses involved in hosting such a large virtual event and it does take a bit of time. If you would like to donate to help cover the costs involved, here are some options.

Scottish Indexes Conference Donation - £10 -
Scottish Indexes Conference Donation - £20 -
Scottish Indexes Conference Donation - £50 -


Here are the presentations we are looking forward to on Sunday 6 December 2020:

  • ‘The Highlands: Jacobites, Clearances and Emigration’, by Lorna Steele, Community Engagement Officer at the Highland Archive Centre.
  • 'Understanding Scottish Inheritance Records' by Chris Paton, genealogist at and author of ‘Tracing Your Scottish Ancestry through Church and State Records’, available here.
  • 'Researching Scottish Ancestors from a Distance', by B.J. Jamieson, genealogy reference specialist at Maine State Library.
  • 'Using FindMyPast to go Beyond Basic Birth, Marriage & Death Records', by Myko Clelland, genealogist at FindMyPast.
  • ‘Your Burning DNA Questions’, by Michelle Leonard of Genes & Genealogy, co-author of ‘Tracing Your Ancestors Using DNA: A Guide for Family Historians’, available here.
  • 'Borders Family History Society', an interview with Elma Fleming, chair of Borders Family Society.
  • 'Orkney Family History Society', by Jackie Harrison of Orkney Family Society.
  • ‘Using Kirk Session Records’ by Emma Maxwell, Genealogist at Scottish Indexes.
  • Genealogy Q&A, hosted by Graham and Emma Maxwell
  • To accommodate people around the globe the programme will begin at 7 am BST and end at 10:30 pm BST. There will be time to ask our panel of genealogists questions throughout the day and, as always, there will be two Question and Answer sessions.


    We are still finalising the details for the December conference, full schedules will be posted online as soon as possible. We start at 7am UK time, which is in the evening in Australia and New Zealand. We keep going until about 11pm UK time so that people in the United States and Canada can watch too. Each presentation is shown twice throughout the day and we have a live Q&A with each presenter, as well as two longer Q&A sessions throughout the day. See below for schedules in a variety of timezones.

    Past Conferences

    This will be our 7th free conference of 2020. These events are designed to be interactive and are best watched live. Some presentations from previous conferences are available to watch again. Visit our Past Conferences page to see what you’ve missed so far.

    Scottish Indexes Orders (update 2 August 2020)

    During the COVID-19 pandemic, we can still fulfil many orders from our online Scottish genealogy indexes, but not all. If you order a record that we can’t supply right now, we offer a full refund, so feel free to place your order. Alternatively, contact us to make sure your order will not be affected right now.

    As a result of the pandemic, archives across Scotland have been closed. Gradually, some are opening, but we’re not back to ‘normal’ yet. Please contact us to discuss which research projects we can complete right now and which will have to wait.

    Scottish Indexes - Record Sets Facebook Group

    Scottish Genealogy Research

    Are you eager to start tracing your Scottish heritage but you don’t know where to begin? Head over to our Scottish Genealogy Learning Zone and take a look at our getting started guide. We have links to the major websites you will need, special offers and tips to get you started.

    On our Scottish Indexes website, you will find a great variety of records to help you trace your Scottish family tree and discover your ancestors. Use the search form above to search all our records or go to our 'Record Sets' page to search a specific set. Not sure what historical records you can search on the Scottish Indexes website? Visit our coverage section for a detailed breakdown.

    Looking for tips on how to break down those genealogy brick walls? Do you need a second pair of eyes to work out what an old document says or are you not sure what records to look at next? Join our Facebook group and you will find a large group of people ready and waiting to help.

    Featured Documents

    As featured at the Scottish Indexes Conference in June, deeds are extremely useful when you are tracing your family history.

    Searching back to 1855 in Scotland is often straightforward, but tracing our family back further involves a variety of records. A much overlooked resource are deeds, which were created by our ancestors for various purposes. They are legal documents which record a wide variety of transactions, but along with this legal information is wonderful genealogical information which can help you blast through those brick walls.

    For example, we may find a marriage contract naming the bride and groom’s fathers, or other relatives. Or we may find a will giving vital information, which can be hard to find before 1855.

    Even deeds which may at first seem less interesting can actually be extremely useful. In the text of the deed itself, a full designation is almost always given for each party, and this can often include the name of a person’s father, their former residence or the name of some other relation. Witnesses are recorded, and these may be relatives, with their relationships being frequently mentioned.

    Historically deeds could be registered by a number of courts. We’re indexing the ‘Books of Council and Session’ or as it is less formally described, the ‘Register of Deeds’, and also Sheriff Court and Commissary Court Deeds.

    Sadly, this is a time-consuming project, but thanks to kind donations, we have now been able to expand our database.

    Can you donate £20 to this project?

    Find out more about the Register of Deeds here in our Learning Zone.

    Database last updated on 16 November 2020 at 9:00 p.m. GMT

    This update has added paternity cases from Alloa Sheriff Court Extracted Decrees from 1857-1874, Inveraray Sheriff Court Decrees from 1839-1858, Stirling Sheriff Court Extracted Decrees from 1898-1919, as well as entries from Dumfries Prison Register 1862-1865, Glasgow (Duke Street) Prison Register 1884-1885 and Greenock Prison Register 1848-1855 & 1859-1864.

    Remember that spellings in historical records can vary widely, so use wildcards to help you find your ancestors. See our help page for more information.

    This box will search the occupation, residence, and birthplace whenever this information has been recorded in the original record. It does not search ages or years and does not bring back results from multiple fields (e.g. you can search for a village or county but not both at the same time). To search multiple fields use the Advanced Search or search by individual Record Set