The following article appeared in the Fall 1998 issue of the Clan MacIntyre Society newsletter.
Researching Family in Scotland
By Ardelle Koperski
On my recent trip to Scotland, I was privileged to research my ancestor, John McIntyre, who was born in Lismore, Scotland, settled in Paisley, and then emigrated to Canada.
In Edinburgh, I visited the Scottish Record Office. I wrote by e-mail prior to my trip to clarify the sources available. Since I have copies of marriage and birth records, my goal was to find out when John moved from Lismore to Paisely. At the library entrance, I was told to go upstairs to the Historical Research Room. The staff there directed me to the Interview Room where I got a readers ticket upon filling out an application and showing an ID. I took the readers ticket to the Historical Research Room and filled out a request form for the Kirk Session records of the High Church in Paisley . I was told to select a desk and the item would be delivered. On the desk were three pillows of different sizes covered in muslin upon which I placed the item. In front of me were a list of rules, such as avoiding touching the text of documents, use a slip of paper to follow lines, and on no account lick fingers while turning pages. I looked at the actual kirk session records for Paisley from about 1797 to 1802. I found no information about my ancestor, but I was amused by the rebukes for fornication found repeatedly. I also looked at indexes to land records back to 1750, which were found on the shelf.
I also visited the Edinburgh Central Reference Library, and, downstairs in the Scottish History Room, I found many books about areas in Scotland, IGI on microfiche, census returns, old parish registers for some areas of Scotland, reference books concerning Scottish emigration, family histories, and much more information. I found a reference to my Scottish ancestor in Ships from Scotland to America 1628-1828 by David Dobson. From the citation naming the ship, I was able to go upstairs to the newspaper room and look at the entry in the actual newspaper in a bound volume. What a surprise that the 1815 and 1820 Edinburgh Evening Courant was still preserved in hard copy. I was disappointed I could not make a copy and asked the librarian when it would be microfilmed. He said libraries were being downsized and were short of money, as the government runs them.
I also went across the street to the National Library of Scotland. The man at the desk informed me they were renovating and thus had relocated the main part of their collection to the Scottish Science Library until March of 1999. I would have liked to search their holdings as they have many directories: trade and professional, Army and Navy lists, and emigration lists not found elsewhere in Scotland.
I then went on to Glasgow to visit the Mitchell Library, which houses the History and Glasgow Room and Glasgow City Archives. They have directories for Glasgow back to 1787 on microfiche, census returns from 1841, and Glasgow newspapers on microfilm. To cover the early period, they also have Scots Magazine, circa 1739-1833, with an index in each volume of births, marriages, and deaths. I looked at microfilm of Glasgow newspaper back to 1815 for marriage notices and ship departure notices for my Scottish ancestor, but was unsuccessful.
Outside Glasgow, about fifteen minutes by train, is Paisley, where my Scottish ancestor was married and had two children before emigrating to Canada. I went to the Central Library and Museum Complex. They have old parish registers for Renfrewshire county on microfilm from 1670, Monumental Inscriptions in Renfrewshire pre-1855, Trades Directories from 1810-1938, census returns from 1841-1891 on microfilm, local newspapers from 1824 in bound copy, and voters rolls for most elections between 1834 and 1879 in Paisley. I was able to find some family names in the trade directories and in the Monumental Inscriptions that provided leads for further research. The local studies librarian was very helpful and upon sending the information I have about my Scottish ancestor, will answer my specific inquiry as time permits.
The trip was a great experience. It was so exciting to be in the area from which my ancestors came. In addition to finding clues to my ancestors life in Scotland, I found local history material to enhance my family history. Personal contacts were made to aid in future research. I would advise anyone going there to do as much research as possible before going and have specific questions you are trying to answer. Take along copies of all the facts you have found about your ancestor.
Edinburgh Central Reference Library
National Library of Scotland
Local Studies Library
ęClan MacIntyre Society