Research Options

What Highland Roots may be able to find out for you:

Though we specialise in Highland genealogy, we're happy to research families in other parts of Scotland too. We're fortunate in Scotland to have all the main genealogical records for the country located together in Edinburgh, with most of them now indexed on computer and available in digital form - both online and by a dedicated computer link with Scotlands People in the Highland Archive Centre. 

Just how far back these records will take any particular family depends enormously on the sort of people they were and which part of Scotland they came from. This is because, while the property records for landowners are particularly good, the main sources for ordinary people before the start of nominal censuses (1841) and Statutory Registration of Births, Marriages and Deaths (1855) vary enormously in their antiquity, completeness, and usability. While OPRs (Old Parish Registers) exist for the biggest cities back into the late 16th century, and for many lowland towns and rural parishes back to the 17th century, the situation in the Highlands and Islands is very different. Here few OPRs go back beyond the mid-18th century - and on the islands perhaps only to the early 19th - and those that have survived are often full of gaps or barely legible for the first decades they cover. 

The OPRs are only Church of Scotland records, and few registers from other churches survive from before the 18th century - again, especially in the Highlands. The Roman Catholic registers have now been indexed and digitised and made available on Scotlands People, but there are not many RC records for the Highlands before the early 1800s. The registers of the dissenting Presbyterian, and other, churches are also gradually being indexed and digitised for Scotlands People, but it will be some time before they are all available. Since the "Disruption" of 1843 was especially significant in the Highlands, the records of the Free Churches will be particularly significant to those researching ancestors from the Highlands (many FC records have already been transcribed and published by the Highland Family History Society).

All this means that while one would hope to trace an ordinary family from the Lowlands back to the first half of the 18th century, and perhaps earlier still, in the Highlands one would normally only expect to take similar families back to the second half of that century, if that far. However, the discovery of patronymic names in estate records, and the survival of the oral tradition in many parts of the Highlands may provide the means for some to get back further - and maybe even to link up with the often extensive written genealogies of the clan chiefs and their "tacksmen".

How Highland Roots will charge you:

With so much variation in what might be achieved, and consequently in the time any particular search may take, Highland Roots thinks it fairer to charge an hourly rate for research rather than a single flat fee, and for the more successful searches (i.e. those that take up the most time) to split the work into "sessions" that are commissioned and paid for separately so the costs never run out of the client's control. In practice this means that work is authorised to be done to a sum set by the client for that session - a total to include hourly fees, actual expenses, and currency conversion costs - after which we'll report the results and assess the prospects for future progress should the client wish to authorise a further session. 

No case will be taken on unless it appears that there is some prospect of progress - which will usually depend on the client having successfully discovered the necessary Information Required to Start a Search. The current Highland Roots research rates will be supplied on application.

If you live in the United States and would like some help attempting to identify your immigrant ancestor please see HighlandRoots USA.