Friday 20 October 2023

Book Now!

Photo by Chris Montgomery on Unsplash

Some family history events are coming up soon that may be of interest to you. All times given here are UK times, and all of the below presentations are online. Zoom has transformed the way we meet as genealogists, allowing family history society members around the world to gather virtually, and enabling individuals to connect with relatives and fellow genies they might never otherwise see!

25 October, 7.30-9.30pm
How 'Lost Cousins' can help you knock down brick walls
Have you used the resources of the website 'Lost Cousins' and its associated newsletter to make family connections? Peter Calver has operated this service since 2004 and he will be giving a talk on the importance of collaboration in researching your ancestry. This is a free, open virtual meeting run by West Surrey Family History Society.  If you're interested, sign up quickly at as the attendance is limited to 100 people.

26 October, 1-2pm
Tools for Your Graveyard Research Kit
I can highly recommend this presentation as I'll be giving it 😁  It's being organised by Family Tree Magazine's Genealogy Gadgets Club, and it will concentrate on software, apps, and some more mundane objects that you can use to plan and carry out a successful visit to your ancestors' final resting place(s). If you're not already signed up for the magazine or its online services, you can register for a free 7-day trial which will allow you to attend the talk, at

11 November, 2-4pm 
Using the Map Collection of National Library of Scotland
Don't be fooled by the title; the NLS map collection covers the whole of the UK and beyond. This is a free event, run by the Aberdeen & North East Scotland Family History Society's Edinburgh group, and all you need to do is register with them by emailing If you're already a member of the society, log on to their website using your membership details and book there.  A link will be sent out to all who've registered prior to the meeting.  

15 November, 3-4pm
Introduction to Family History
Coincidentally, this is another free webinar explaining the resources of the NLS, but this time it's being hosted by the library itself.  It's an introduction to the physical and digital sources held by the NLS that can be used in researching family trees. The presentation will be followed by a question and answer session. You can get your ticket through Eventbrite at, and it's advisable to book now as these events are always extremely popular, and tickets go fast!

If you find you can't attend an event you're really interested in, check with the organisation running it as they may offer similar presentations in the future. For really focused topics relevant to your research, check out the family history society for your ancestors' area to see if they have meetings you can attend, virtually or in person.

Thursday 3 August 2023

Coming soon...


Hands holding an open notebook on a table, with a pencil ready to write. Surrounding are a box of yellow paperclips, a bulldog clip, sticky note cube, and laptop keyboard

Some upcoming free events which could help boost your family history skills as well as appreciation for the built heritage in your area of interest!


9th September 2023

Scottish Indexes Online Conference 

The programme includes

The People of Cross House by Kate Keter

   Crimes of an Heinous Nature by Margaret Fox 

People Lie! How to unravel the truth when you are tracing your family history by Emma Maxwell

Tracing Your Belfast Ancestors by Chris Paton

‘Like All These Country Folks Very Stupid’: Glasgow Highlanders in the Poor Law Applications by Alison Spring

Scottish Tax Records for Genealogy and Local History by Robert Urquhart

You can watch it on Facebook or register on the website to join via Zoom.


10th-11th September 2023

Family History Research Workshop and

Exhibition with The Wiener Holocaust Library

Scottish Jewish Heritage Centre, Glasgow

Featuring a pop-up exhibition, Fate Unknown: The Search for the Missing after the Holocaust, as well as a family history workshop about the archive, with the chance to get advice on carrying out your own research. Places are limited, so register now and make sure you don’t miss out. 


26th August – 3rd September

East Lothian Archaeology & Heritage Fortnight

A great variety of talks, walks, and exhibitions around the area, including topics like fishing, military history, architecture, and Gaelic waulking songs!



September 2023

Doors Open Days 

The annual festival of architecture, heritage and history takes place in various locations around Scotland throughout the month of September. Sign up for the newsletter to get all the latest details.


Information about some local festivals:






Scottish Borders  


If you spot a building you absolutely have to see, and it requires pre-booking to view, make sure you book early as places go like hot cakes on these occasions.




Tuesday 28 March 2023

April free online events

Quite a few free family history events are coming up in April, covering a broad range of subjects.  Among them are, in chronological order:

Legacy Family Tree Videos and MyHeritage are jointly sponsoring the fourth annual 24-hour webinar marathon on 13th-14th April.  A wide variety of topics includes presentations on Irish, Polish, and Spanish research; genetic genealogy; and research methodology. Among the speakers are Elizabeth Shown Mills, Judy G. Russell, Cyndi Ingle, and Ugo Perego.  You can register at

The following day will see Scottish Indexes' 20th Conference, and, as has become customary for this internationally-inclusive event, each presentation will be aired twice to allow viewers from time zones around the world to watch and ask questions of the speakers.  The programme for the 15th April conference is:

Making the Most of Scottish Prison Records - Emma Maxwell
Caledonian Asylum Petitions - Lorna Kinnaird
My Cousin Sophia - Karen de Bruyne
Scottish Kirk Session Records - Chris Paton
Aberdeen Bodies: Bodysnatching, Riot & Dissection - Dr. Dee Hoole
Using DNA for Family History - Michelle Leonard

Keep an eye on the website for the day's timetable, which will also feature a general Q&A session with many of the presenters joining in.  This is one of the most popular aspects of this conference!

Finally, on Saturday 22nd April, the 33rd Scottish Association of Family History Societies' annual conference will take place online, running from 9am to 5.30pm UK time (which is now UTC+1/BST).  The theme of the day is "Haste Ye Back" and the scheduled speakers are as follows:

Emigrant Homecomings -  Prof. Marjory Harper
Digitising Aberdeen City Records - Dr. Jackson Armstrong
Oral History and Records - Tom McKean
Settling In and Creating Home in the North-East - Nicolas Le Bigre
Using DNA in Family History Research - Alasdair Macdonald
War Brides - Ken Nisbet
Sailing to Philadelphia - Alison Spring

Hopefully you'll be able to enjoy at least one of these events, and add to your family history research skills and knowledge!

Tuesday 14 March 2023

Online Irish Records for St. Patrick's Day


If you have Irish ancestry, you may have been told that in Ireland “all the records were burned”.  Not so! And now many Irish family history records can be accessed online.  Below are just a few websites to get you started. 

Irish birth, marriage, and death records – indexed images from civil registration and earlier church records: Irish

Census records – the only remaining available years for all of Ireland are 1901 and 1911: National Archives of Ireland Census returns

Was your great-grandpa in the navy?  Search for his record at Irish Merchant Seamen 1918-1921

Ulster Covenant signatures – a huge petition in opposition to Irish Home Rule in 1912. Many signatures are from Irish migrants living in places such as Glasgow.

Many more record sites are listed at Ireland Online Genealogy Records on the FamilySearch Research Wiki.

And of course, with this being a frugal family history blog, all of these resources are completely free to search and view!

Happy St. Patrick's Day, and happy ancestor hunting!

Wednesday 1 March 2023

RootsTech 2023: Online and In-Person


This year, the RootsTech genealogy conference has morphed from its last two years’ online-only format into a hybrid event, meaning in-person attendance is now possible as in earlier years.  The significant online element has widened the event’s reach and made it more inclusive to those around the world for whom a trip to Salt Lake City is out of the question.  It also means that speakers don’t need to be on the ground at the conference, either.

Which is why for the third year running I’m able to contribute to the hundreds of video classes showing from 2nd of March onwards (or 11pm on the 1st if you’re in the UTC time zone).  This year, I’m giving the following presentations:

10 Sources for Researching Your Scottish Ancestors - Without Certificates

Learn about the best resources to use to track down your Scots ancestors when birth, marriage, or death certificates aren't available, or are hard to find. Many of these resources are free to use.


Frugal Family History - Tips for Tracing Your Family Tree on a Budget  

Tracing your ancestors need not be an expensive activity. Learn about many of the free resources that can be drawn on to grow your family tree.


Killing Off Your Ancestors - 10 Sources for Identifying Deaths  

Even though your ancestors may have lived long ago, finding out about their deaths can teach you a lot about their lives. Discover the many sources of information which will shed light on this important part of their history.


These videos will be available for at least twelve months, alongside my previous presentations for RootsTech.  You can find them all at

Each talk has an accompanying syllabus or handout which you can download from the same RootsTech page as the video, containing links to the websites I refer to.

Do get in touch with me if you have any questions about any of these RootsTech talks.


Happy St David's Day: National Library of Wales


National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth
Credit: Rhyshuw1~enwiki , CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If you have Welsh branches in your family tree, these records, hosted by the National Library of Wales, are well worth exploring.

This list includes just a few of the indexed, original sources they have made freely available online.  I recommend exploring the website to see more of what they offer.

Crime & Punishment   

Tithe Maps 

Welsh Journals including magazines 1735-2007 

There’s also a first-steps guide to family history research, a guide to church records in Wales,  and a list of independent researchers who carry out work for clients at the NLW.

So, with all those resources, you can start your search for your Welsh ancestors right away!



  This post was originally published in 2021. Links have been updated.     

Tuesday 14 February 2023

Relatives Around The World

I ended a previous post about my long-lost great uncle Duncan with an unsolved riddle: did he know his wife back home in Scotland had divorced him, and did he marry the woman he had crossed the world to be with?

Well, the answer did come, from his relatives in Australia.  An email arrived with photos of divorce documents as well as his marriage certificate to his second wife, Ivy.  I was so pleased that their life had turned out the way they clearly hoped it would. They had two children of their own plus the five from Ivy’s first marriage, so family life would have been a full-time occupation.

Divorce Notification, 1952
In further antipodean family history developments, I received an email from MyHeritage alerting me to a tree posted from my father’s side of the family.  I recognised the tree owner’s surname immediately, as my parents and aunts had corresponded with this family of my dad’s brother Angus. He had emigrated to New Zealand as a young man, and occasional exchange visits took place between the family.  I recall meeting some of these relatives when they toured Scotland in the early 1970s.  They were visiting my father’s sister Kate, and when Dad arrived to meet them, they all immediately remarked on the striking resemblance between him and his elder brother in NZ.

As tourists from down under often did, they hired a camper van to see as much of the country as they could, although these were not nearly as common on the roads as they are today.  While staying in Glasgow to visit the numerous relatives who lived there, they did some sightseeing in the city.  They parked their van in George Square in the city centre, and a local child, being unfamiliar with the style of the vehicle, mistook it for an ice cream van and tried to buy a cone from them, much to everyone's bewilderment.

My Kiwi correspondent gladly shared copies of documents with me, including an extensive genealogy of Uncle Angus’s English wife – which surprised me by revealing that her ancestors were actually from Scotland. 

Then, in just the last month or so, I've learned of some younger relatives, on two separate maternal lines, who have taken an interest in their forebears. Both showed up as DNA matches on Ancestry, and had been posted on behalf of the family members concerned. With the first, I had kept in touch with the family in the USA, and they were able to confirm that my cousin’s teenage daughter was indeed the person represented by the small tree!  I offered to share anything she wanted to know about the family.

The other enquiry came from England via Ancestry, asking if I would be willing to share information they had been unable to trace about my relative’s parents.  I referred the enquirer to the relative’s father, knowing that he would share what he felt comfortable with, and she confirmed that they had set up a time to discuss the family’s history with him.  Again, I invited them to let me know if there was anything else I could share that would be of interest.

It's great to be in touch with family from around the world (and nearer home, too).  These experiences have highlighted to me how crucial it is to have my tree posted online, as well DNA results, for others to find.  In a post in the near future I’ll share the story of another recent contact, one which provided a spot of closure for me on the genealogy front.