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  1. #1
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    Question Traveling to Scotland for research

    Hello! I am a freelance writer and I have been assisting a client of mine with researching his ancestry. I have managed to trace his family back to 1635, when his 7th great-grandfather immigrated from London to Virginia. I have hit a brick wall in finding information about his family before that time, though. There is evidence that leads me to believe his family may have originated in Scotland.
    I was wondering if any of you can provide me any tips on doing research in Scotland, if I were to travel there? I am not a professional genealogist, but I am skilled at research. Do you think that it would be beneficial to find a professional genealogist, or is this research something I could do myself?

    Thank you so much !!

  2. #2
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    it sounds as though you have made it quite far in your research on your own. Very impressive. Hiring a professional could help you, but the largest barrier to research is location of the resources. If you were able to travel to London and Edinburgh to do the research you would likely save quite a good deal of money as hiring a professional can be expensive and not necesarrily any better than doing the research on your own. The information is easily accessible and many of the facilities have people on staff to assist if you need them. In London you can start at the family records center and the library of society of genealogists. The ntional archives in kent is also very good. In Edinburgh the general register house and Scottish national archives will provide a lot of great information. Good luck in your search. Cheers- Peter

  3. #3
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    With respect to GoodleyP, the original poster lives in Denver, Colorado so the cost of a local researcher may well be more effective than the cost of travelling to the UK.

    I would suggest that you have a look at the web site of the National Archives, which may well give you pointers for where to look for records that you would be interested in, as it will list holdings other than its own, as well as having a lot of research guides. The National Archives are located in Kew, Surrey, which is to the South-West of London.

    https://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/

    Scotland has its own record office in Edinburgh, and its web site is below.
    https://www.nrscotland.gov.uk/

    They will both probably point you in the direction of people willing to undertake research on your behalf, which will then allow you to make your own judgement.

  4. #4
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    Hello jrizzo,

    Welcome to British-Genealogy.
    And congratulations on getting back to 1635 - though American records are a different beast to English and Scottish ones.

    First thing to consider is the cost of the flight to the UK. Then you have hotels, food, and travel within the UK.

    Next, records in the 1600s and before then are sometimes sparse in existence, and where they do exist can be sparse in information. ('Baptised 1 May 1635, ye son of John Smith' isn't exactly helpful.)

    You need to be able to read 'old writing' and you might need to translate Latin. Scroll down to 'reading old documents'.
    https://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/h...research-guide

    Professional researchers know what sort of records are available for that time period, and should be able to read them. There is an association of professional researchers in England and Wales (stick www. in front of agra.org.uk) and I'm sure that if there isn't a link to a similar group in Scotland on the Scottish Archives site, then googling will supply an answer.
    A researcher should be able to quote you an hourly research rate (it won't include costs such as photo-copying, and might not include travel) and, based on the information you have, should be able to give you an idea of how likely it is that they will be able to find anything. Be prepared for several hours of research to lead to very little further information.
    Vulcan XH558 - “Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.”

  5. #5

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    Records for Scotland, especially that far back, are separate, and mostly stored in Edinburgh, although there are also county archives.
    I have put a small collection of “what is where” messages at the top of the (General Scottish) forum, which should give you some ideas.
    If you need research done in Scotland, make sure that the professional has experience in Scottish research - as Pam says, reading the handwriting, especially secretary hand abbreviations, can be difficult. There’s usually advertisements for researchers in the Genealogy magazines such as Family History Magazine, but be sure it’s the UK edition.

    However... All that said, do not expect detailed records in perfect condition. Damp, War, poor materials including acid ink, Church reorganization, etc, none of these things do much for record survival. You might get lucky and find that the people in question lived in a city where the records were stored well, but the majority didn’t. You are getting to the limits of what can be found. I don’t want to discourage you, but don’t expect too much - for example, I have one line that has been stuck in Scotland 1821 for the last 20years, because some records have vanished?

  6. #6
    Super Moderator - Completely bonkers and will never change.
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    Quote Originally Posted by GoodleyP View Post
    it sounds as though you have made it quite far in your research on your own. Very impressive. Hiring a professional could help you, but the largest barrier to research is location of the resources. If you were able to travel to London and Edinburgh to do the research you would likely save quite a good deal of money as hiring a professional can be expensive and not necesarrily any better than doing the research on your own. The information is easily accessible and many of the facilities have people on staff to assist if you need them. In London you can start at the family records center and the library of society of genealogists. The ntional archives in kent is also very good. In Edinburgh the general register house and Scottish national archives will provide a lot of great information. Good luck in your search. Cheers- Peter
    Peter, it sounds as if you haven't been to some of the London archives recently, as the Family Records Centre in Myddelton Street closed in 2008.

    I was also a little puzzled by
    The ntional archives in kent
    because The National Archives is in Surrey, but then realised you must have forgotten to proof-read your post before pressing 'send' otherwise you would have realised you meant to type Kew.

    Pam
    Vulcan XH558 - “Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.”

  7. #7

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    Jrizzo, your first, easy option might be to tell us who the 17th century people were and why you think people last seen in London were actually scots. You never know, we have some pretty good researchers here. Even if all they can do is refer you to the National Archives (TNA) or National Archives of Scotland (NAS), at least it will cut down your required travel.

  8. #8
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    Thank you all so much for your replies!!

    The earliest known information I have is a ship manifesto, showing that the ancestor in question (James Tate) traveled from London to Barbados on the Ann & Elizabeth in April 1635. According to that document (as well as his death record later on), he was 17 at the time of his voyage. I have found some reports that say that he may have been the son of Sir William Tate, but I question why the son of a Knight would immigrate (alone) to a foreign country, at the age of 17. I have also struggled to find anything that actually links him to Sir. William Tate.

    As for the Scottish link, my client said that he has always been told that his ancestors originated in Scotland. Also, the grandson of this James Tate is documented to have been known as the "Scotsman immigrant" in social circles. I realize, though, that this is not much evidence of Scottish ancestry...

    Any and all suggestions you all have for me are much appreciated!!

  9. #9

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    Tait tends to be the more common spelling in Scotland. There is a family of them, with widespread connections in the Scottish Borders which someone has included in their blog HERE, so I won't bother repeating the details here. The earliest I've taken that line is the birth of James in 1684. I have only really followed the lines relating to my parish of interest, but there's quite a group in the Kelso area.

    The Borders Taits seem to have been rovers as far back as I can see - in the 18th century there's a ship Captain and a plantation owner. Of course, these people may not be yours, but they are worth checking - remember that in the 17th century, spelling of names and places (and dates) was a fuzzy matter.

    Going back to your questions in #8, 17 was considered much more adult back then than it is today - teenagers hadn't been invented and youngsters were expected to work once their education was finished. Depending on how many brothers he had, he could have been looking to claim land, make money or even being part of the ship's crew, learning the job.
    When looking for motivation, it's often useful to look at what was going on in the country at the time - the early 1600s was a time of unrest - when your William travelled, it was right in the middle of the Reign of Charles Stuart, first of the combined kingdoms (the King who got executed). A lot of families, if they had money enough, sent one or two of their sons abroad to protect their family line (which is one of the reasons so many Clans have Chiefs who descend from younger sons who started their families abroad and came home when it was safe after fathers and elder brothers had been wiped out.

    All of this is speculation and general background. In your place, I would put Sir William Tate to one side for the moment (I have no idea which one you're referring to). The trouble is that as you go further back, record survival gets worse and the best preserved records tend to come from estates with stone archive rooms. Families whose records were stoned in thatched churches (damp, acid ink, etc) or near the Borders or city centres (wars of different periods) lost theirs. Then people think - right name, roughly the right date & place, must be mine. There's a good chance that if your people were scots, they were also Catholics, and more of their records were destroyed than kept. Sir William might be yours, but it would be better to find him from another source. It could be useful to check and see what children he had, and whether they can be found anywhere in the UK (eg if a Sir William had a son of roughly the right age, make sure that son can't be found marrying or dying in the UK while your guy was out of the country).

    End of ramble. If you track him back to my Whitsome & Hilton Taits, please let me know.

  10. #10
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    Smile

    Thank you so much, Lesley! You have provided me with some great information. I am going to see if I can make any more progress on my research here in the States. My client (who is a Tate) is quite interested in tracing his family line as far back as possible, so chances are high that he may want me to travel to Great Britain to see what I can find in person.
    If I find any connection to your Taits, I will be sure to let you know. Thank you again for all of your help!

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