History of the Stewarts | Family Lines
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If you have a specific question you can contact our archivist.
Beginning your search for your Stewart ancestors
Where to look
The Stewart Society accepts no responsibility for the content of other websites.
This is a good time to use a blank Family Group Sheet (FGS) and Pedigree Tree. These are handy ‘thinking/notemaking tools’ and they are also useful when you approach other members of the family for more information. CyndisList has a list of webpages with free downloadable FGSs and trees. Make a note of anything you are not sure about – this will help guide your discussions with family members and to choose which ‘fact’ to begin searching for. free downloadable FGSs and trees. These are also useful if you intend to send the information onto other family members or to organisations like the Stewart Society.
Lisa Louise Cooke´s Genealogy Gems: Genealogy Made Easy Podcast
Genealogy made easy
A freely available step-by-step series for beginner genealogists. Includes audio files and text online. A good introduction to doing family history research.
FamilySearch.org. Family History for Beginners.
Family history for beginners
From this you will have a basis on which to build. You may wish to think about other resources at this stage:-
Using a genealogical database can be helpful. The three largest providers of genealogy databases are Ancestry, Family Search and FindMyPast. In the case of Ancestry and FindMyPast, it is possible to conduct a basic search free of charge, with payment required for access to the full details of a search result. This usually allows the user to view an image of the original source as well as a transcription. Family Search is a non-commercial provider, being run by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, so most information is freely available, although access to images may be limited.
Each of these three providers offer large quantities of data covering areas around the world, some of which is held by more than one provider and some of which is unique to a single provider. For example the indexes of the civil registers for England and Wales from 1837 onwards can be found on Ancestry, Family Search and FindMyPast.
Family Search contains a considerable number of sources with images only. These sources are unindexed just now, but the images can be browsed through, so if you either have a search to make with very specific information, or have lots of time to spare to browse through these, they can be useful sources.
1) local libraries - they can give advice on useful books and they may have a subscription to genealogical websites - such as the ones listed above. They may also hold useful resources such as census records or archive material as well as often free online access to The Times Digital Archive (1785-2006), so ask next time you go in. See More information
The website North East Roots pulls together much of the information for Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire
Argyll & Bute
Argyll & Bute
this is an online catalogue of the items held by their museums/local history collections ClacksPast
Conhairle nan Eilean Siar/The Western Isles
The Western Isles
Dumfries & Galloway
Friends of Dundee Archives -
Includes a database of Wesleyan baptisms, Dundee 1785-1898, as well as "The Howff File" - an index to 80,000 records of individuals buried at "The Howff" - Dundee´s City Cemetery
Friends of Dundee Archives
2) Local archives can also be useful source of information. The easiest way to get an idea of what they hold is to look at the Scottish Archive Network (SCAN). It holds summary information about the records held in almost all of the Scottish local archives. Generally you will not be able to find much about a single ancestor on here; more the variety of records for any given place and where they are held.
There are also useful bits of information such as a gazetteer of Scottish places. There is another one on Scotland´s Places There is also the gazetteer of British Place Names
3)The National Library of Scotland has an extensive manuscript collection. You can find about more from their website. Including searchable Post Office directories for 28 Scottish towns and counties from 1773-1911. The National Library also has a number of publications dealing with early data including: the International Genealogical Index with some records going back to the Middle Ages; Old Parochial Records; monumental inscriptions; and census information, as well as copies of historical newspapers see Newspapers
If your family come from Lesmahagow in South Lanarkshire then take a look at this fantastic piece of work which details the changes in place names over time.
The British Library has a main catalogue of over 12 million books, serials, printed music and maps. It´s a fantastic resource and you can find out more from their website.
4) English archives. The National Archives currently contain over 10 million catalogue entries from 414 record offices and other repositories across England You can find them here The National Archives. It
5) Scottish University archives hold not only records from universities but often records were deposited or given to the universities as well which may be of use. You find a list of resources at the Scottish Higher Education Archives
6)The Scottish Genealogy centre has a library and runs classes. You can find out more at Scottish Genealogy Society Local family history societies can also be of help. Highland Family History Society
7) Scotland´s people which provides online access (for a fee) to Scotland´s official registers of births, marriages and deaths as well as census records from 1841 to 1911 and digitised wills and testaments from Scotland´s National Archives and Scottish Catholic Archives records.
The 1841 census which is the first census that has individual names recorded and is therefore the fist one that is of real use to family history researchers. In 1841 census you should note the age will be correct if under 15 but maybe rounded down to the nearest 5 years if over 15. A household may be spread over two pages so it´s always worth checking the page before and after. You should also remember that not everyone listed at an address necessarily lived there. Some parishes (mostly in Fife where there are 14) are missing from the 1841 census but there´s also one In Moray, another in Banffshire and a couple from Perthshire so this may be where your ancestor is..
In 1851 there are 7 Registration districts missing
- the census records for your area may be missing
- married women usually but not always went by their married names (if their maiden name is given this doesn´t always mean they were unmarried; widows often reverted and children might take the name of their stepfather)
- if the birthplace of the child, especially the eldest is different to that of her parents it maybe that the mother has gone back to her parents for the birth so this could be a clue to the address of her parents.
- people did move! Check nearby parishes
From 1851, you will also get the relationship of each person to the head of the household. You will also get their birthplace, rather than just whether or not they were born in the county. The census returns from 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881 and 1891 will give you:
Name of each member of the household
Each person´s relationship to the head of the household, marital status, occupation and Place of birth. Also Whether deaf, dumb, blind, imbecile or idiot
The 1891 and 1901 censuses will tell you whether the person was Gaelic or English speaking and whether they were the employer or the employed.
The 1911 census, the most recent census available, provides a wealth of genealogical information. In these returns you can view a full two-page spread. The columns provide:
Whether house is inhabited or uninhabited
Number of rooms with one or more windows
Name and Surname of each person in the household
Number of persons in the household
Relationship to Head of Household
Gaelic or English speaking
Particulars as to marriage
number of years married
number of live children born to the woman
number of children still living
Industry/Service number occupation associated with
Employer or Worker
If working at home
Nationality if born in foreign country
Whether deaf, deaf and dumb, blind, idiot, imbecile or feeble-minded
Testaments, Wills and Inventories
These were recorded in the Commissary Courts until 1824, after which the Sheriff Courts took over.
If nothing is found in the Indexes, there is always the possibility that there will be something in the Registers of Deeds. Registers of Deeds
Deeds contain trust dispositions (like wills), marriage contracts, apprenticeship records, bonds of provision and many more.
There are 4 sources for Deeds:
1.Registers of Deeds of the Sheriff Courts - Many of the registers date from the early 1600s.
2.Registers of Deeds of the Commissary Courts up to 1824.
3.Registers of Deeds of the Royal Burghs.
4.Registers of Deeds of the Court of Session (Books of Council and Session) which start in the early 16th century.
For births less than 100 years old, marriages less than 75 years old and deaths less than 50 years old, it is only possible to view the index entries over the internet and extract certificates need to be ordered to view the detail on the certificates.
If you know of an ancestor who was born, married or died in Scotland after 1553 – the date of the earliest records - you may very well be able find out about them online.
You can look at the records on line at their website Scotland´s People or you can visit them at their centre in Edinburgh.
Up to 1868, heritable property, i.e. land could not be bequeathed but descended to the eldest son, although after 1868 when someone died intestate, the laws of primogeniture still applied, if that person owned property.
Sources for people who owned property:
Prior to 1617 - Register of the Great Seal (printed to 1660, thereafter typescript indexes exist); Protocol Books (records kept by notaries which predate the Sasine Registers - see below); Register of the Privy Seal (printed to 1584); Calendar of Charters; papers of landowners.
From 1617, there are Registers of Sasines for all counties, including a General Register, which covered the whole of Scotland (abolished in 1868). There are sporadic indexes, some counties having complete indexes, while others not.
After 1781, there are Abridgements with Persons and Places Indexes for all counties. Royal Burghs kept their own Registers and so if someone owned property within the bounds of a Royal Burgh then the Registers of the Burgh would record this. Landholding was feudal up until this year, when feudal holding was finally abolished in Scotland. The Registers of Sasine have been replaced by a Land Register.
Before 1855, they are sporadic, but after 1855, there is a continuous run. These name the owners of the land, their tenants and occupiers.
Retours and Services of Heirs
Records of heirs succeeding to property: Retours exist from 1545-1699 and Services of Heirs from 1700 onwards.
Sources for finding tenants are to be found in rentals and tacks (leases). These are to be found in the papers of landowners, which have been deposited in the National Archives, local archives or in the Manuscript Department of the National Library. Many tacks (leases) were recorded in the Registers of Deeds.
Forfeited Estate papers
The outcome of the Jacobite Risings of 1715 and 1745 was that many Stewart landowners who had been involved had their lands forfeited. There are lists of tenants on those estates from 1745 to the 1770s in the Exchequer Records.
The National Records of Scotland, who run the ScotlandsPeople Centre, also have historical search rooms offering access to family, business and church records, testaments, registers of property and records of the government of Scotland. Please note that two passport size photos and proof of address are required to create a reader’s ticket to allow you to enter these search rooms.
Scottish Indexes have indexed Scottish birth, marriage and death records (including Quaker births 1647-1874 and Quaker marriages 1656-1875). These BMDs are usually records that are not available on scotlandspeople.gov.uk. Scottish Indexes are also indexing paternity cases found in the Scottish Sheriff Courts as well as indexing prison registers and historic mental health records.
7) Why can’t you get a Scottish birth or death certificate prior to 1855?
Civil registration (birth, marriage and death certificates) did not begin in Scotland until 1855. The equivalent date in England is 1837. In Ireland records are patchier as the Civil War in 1922 destroyed some records.
For the 300 years before 1855, records of births and baptisms, banns and marriages and deaths and burials were kept by the Church of Scotland - these are known as the Old Parochial Registers or Old Parish Registers (OPRs). Parish ministers or session clerks usually assumed responsibility for maintaining the registers, but since there was no standard format employed, record keeping varied enormously from parish to parish and also from year to year. Some of this are available online. They also hold photocopies of Roman Catholic Registers. These do not go all that far back. The earliest is that of Huntly in Aberdeenshire, which starts in the 1740s. They also hold a fair number of Episcopal Registers. There are also some records of other denominations, such as the Congregational, Methodist, Unitarian churches, as well as records of Quakers.
8) The Borthwick Institute for archives is one of the biggest outside of London. Includes wills from York. The Borthwick Institute For 20th century images and local photographs, it is always worth checking out History pin History Pin A search on Old Maps online gives access to 20 different major collections around the world, including the Grace Collection of Maps London and the New York Public library´s holdings that can often be downloaded and consulted.
9) The Stewart Society has books, articles, family trees and the Stewart Society magazine published since 1899. You can email your queries to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit us in person - email or phone 0131 220 4512 to make sure there is someone available to help.
10) Where can I find out about occupations and where my ancestor worked?
Discovering what your ancestors did for a living can provide a fascinating insight into their lives. In the middle ages, most Scots would have worked the land or fished the sea. However, the industrial revolution changed the nature of the workplace forever. You might find the names of occupations in census records or other family records such as birth, marriage or death certificates. You can find out some common occupations and suggested sources of additional information at the Ancestral Scotland website . You can also get information on occupations at the ScotlandsPeople website,
For the first time a complete record of deaths at sea is also available from late Victorian times until 1974 are also available on the Scotland´s people website (known as Marine returns)
Statistical information from the census can be viewed at The Online Historical Population Reports Website
11) If your Stewart ancestors went to Ireland in the 17th century or later you may be able to trace them through family history at the General Register Office in NI The Ulster Historical Foundation has almost all records for Counties Antrim & Down. They also carry out ancestral research for clients looking for their ancestors in all nine counties of Ulster. Search their birth, death & marriage indexes for free at Ulster Historical Foundation
Last year the National Library of Ireland released online digital copies of their records of Catholic pre 1880 parishes more recently, these images have been indexed with images attached by Ancestry and find my past. They have also been indexed by Roots Ireland which has now also attached images. In addition, the Irish civil register indexes are now online and marriages indexes now have the other persons name added. These are hosted by Irishgenealogy click here and are free to view.
Photocopies of the registrations may be purchased online for 4 Euros.
However before you even start check that the records exist for the time period you want. The majority of Catholic records for example (something that doesn´t always affect Stewarts in Ireland) don´t begin until after 1829 and some parish records don´t start until the 1860s. There are also some parishes that were created later however the National library provides links to other pages which should give you information and find my past has a full list .
Valuation of property in Ireland published between 1847 and 1864, listing landlords and tenants
Griffith´s Valuation This is particularly useful to narrow down the parishes/townlands where your last name occurs. There are several websites which show the relationships between civil parishes/townlands and Catholic parishes.
You could also search the Catholic Qualification & Convert Rolls 1701-1845 since many Catholics chose to convert to the Church of Ireland or swear loyalty so they could gain certain rights
Catholic Qualification & Convert Rolls
Original Will Registers 1858-1920 contains over 181,000 records and forms the largest collection of surviving wills for post-1858 Republic of Ireland. The registers come from will books created by the district courts and held by the National Archives of Ireland. The collection includes wills from Northern Ireland until 1917
Original Will Registers
12) Records of those wounded or killed in action. For details of an airman´s death consult the ´Soldiers Died in the Great War´ publication. First published in 1921, the 81 volumes lists approximately 635,000 Soldiers and 37,000 Officers who died in WWI. The records also deal with Royal Flying Corps and Royal Air Force casualties. The publication may contain additional information to that on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Debt of Honour Register. The entire collection is published by The Naval & Military Press on CD-Rom and also available online (See below). The paper and CD versions are available at The National Archives, Imperial War Museum, Society of Genealogists and specialist and some local reference libraries. It is also worth consulting the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Debt of Honour Register for details of a death and consider looking through local newspapers which often carried obituaries for those killed in action
You can also search for those who died in the WW1 or WW2 on the Commonwealth war graves commission The Commonwealth War Graves Commission Another useful place to look is the Soldiers Died in the Great war database, which is available on both Ancestry and Findmypast. This was complied after the First World War by the War Office and contains extra information to that provided by the War Graves Commission. You can also search unit war diaries which are at The National Archives.
Regimental museums can be useful however what each one holds varies greatly. The army museums. will give you a list of the museums. The Long Long trail website is devoted to the First World War and how to research the men who served in it.
The National Archives. has put service records for women from all three services online however some of the records aren´t very informative and you may find the ones you are looking for missing.
some excellent links to be found here The Gen Guide
13) Gazettes for London, Edinburgh or Belfast: These contain a wide range of official notices including state, parliamentary and ecclesiastical notices, transport and planning notices - and much more. If your ancestor was awarded a medal for gallantry (such as the Military Medal or Military Cross) the date the award was made should be recorded in the Gazettes.Gazettes
Alphabetical list of officers who served in the Bengal army 1760-1834, Edward Dodwell & James Samuel Miles.List of officers
An on-line version of Charles Campbell Prinsep´s Madras Civil Servants 1741-1858 is a useful work for the many Scots who went out to India .here
14) Historical Directories. A digital library of local and trade directories for England Wales, from 1750 to 1919. Search their website here
Discover free Scottish Post Office directories (1773-1911) at Scottish Directories here
Freely search Irish street directories (1819-1900) at Irish Directories here.
15) If you have a black sheep ancestor then the Old Bailey online maybe worth looking at. The Proceedings of the Old Bailey, 1674-1913 is a fully searchable edition of the largest body of texts detailing the lives of non-elite people ever published, containing 197,745 criminal trials held at London´s central criminal court.their website here
There is also Black sheep ancestors
.their website here
16) The Records of the Scottish Parliament to 1707 are a valuable supplement to the traditional sources for genealogists, such as the registers of births, marriages and deaths, sasines and old parish records, since they contain information which predates these series. Most obviously there are details on individuals who held political office or sat as a member of parliament, but it is certainly possible to find references to a wide range of people within the record.For instance, parliamentary ratifications (private acts where the monarch gifted lands or privileges to reward loyal subjects) can provide significant information on local landowners and their families. Occupations are frequently mentioned, with some individuals being granted privileges related to their particular trade. Tax or supply records and lists of militia personnel and commissioners for war, found within the parliamentary record from the mid-seventeenth century onwards, provide a wealth of information on surnames and their particular geographical spread. Signatories to petitions may provide a snapshot of the most prominent local families or individuals who were active in public life.
. Parliamentary Records here
17)Here are digital copies of a few Stewart books that can be found in our library that you might find helpful and others
.Historic memorials of the Stewarts of Forthergill Perthshire
Also .Essay on the origine of the royal family of Stewarts
.The Red Book of Menteith
.Story of the Stewarts
.Historic memorials of the Stewarts of Forthergill Perthshire, and their male descendants
18)Using local histories can really help to add context to your research.
Scotland´s Places - which is free to use allows to search through three different databases for information to access historical resources relating to places throughout Scotland.
Statistical Accounts of Scotland. Edinburgh: Church of Scotland’s Committee of the Society for the Sons and Daughters of the Clergy.
Statistical Accounts of Scotland
The excellent Census Finder website carries lists of census indexes, organised by county with hyper links. They are often not complete sets but still worth looking at.
Connected Histories: Local history: a research guide
Provides access to a large number of sources for British local history from the 16th to the 19th century.
Library of Congress: Local History and Genealogy Reference Services
Library of Congress here
This page contains links to online and physical sources listing local and other histories.
19)A useful thing to read if you intend publishing your research is Standards and Good Practice in Genealogy from the Society of Genealogists . Standards and Good Practice here
You may also decide to have a DNA test if you do read the page on Stewart DNA testing from Strathclyde University linked from our webpage
. Stewart DNA testing here
A good explanation of some of terms used can be found . Reading and Comparing DNA Test Results here