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Scotland's Greatest Story
Family Search

The website is an extremely useful tool that does not cost a penny to use. Compiled by the Church of the Latter Day Saints for their own religious purposes, it includes the International Genealogical Index, which can be an amazingly important pointer to records that pertain to your family history, and which can, if used properly, advance your research in various directions. This article notes a couple of tips that will help you use the site more effectively.


Be warned though that despite its usefulness, the site can often be inaccurate, and can in many cases miss out records that are known to be on the original parish registers from which they were originally extracted. Also, many pedigrees are uploaded to the site by way of ancestral files from keen enthusiasts who have made assumptions about material they have found – often it is completely wrong. If you think you have found your Scottish tree going back to Robert the Bruce or William Wallace, you may wish to treat such a find with a great deal of scepticism. Most people can trace their Scottish families back only as far as the 17th Century with any real degree of confidence. As a general rule, place more faith in the IGI, but again, not complete faith, as the IGI can also get it wrong. Use the IGI as a pointer however, and it can be an invaluable tool.


When searching for a name on the site, often thousands of potential names can come up that will take ages to sift through. If you find an entry that you think is correct, note the batch number on the screen, and try another name search with this number now keyed in. Further names will be returned, but only in the parish within which you found your first hit, making it much more possible to find a relevant connection to another relation.


If you want to find potential children to a couple, fill in the names of the parents in the fields on the right hand side of the main All Resources search screen, but do not fill any other field in on the page at all. Click on “search”, and if the system has those children listed, they will appear on a list in the subsequent results field. Again, the lists are often incomplete, but can certainly steer you in the right direction to complete your search more thoroughly.


If you find an entry of interest on the site, you can order the relevant microfilm and have it delivered to your nearest Latter Day Saints family history centre, for a small fee. Alternatively you can hire a researcher such as ourselves at Scotland’s Greatest Story to look up the entries for you. The differences can be amazing with respect to the amount of information held on the index, and that held on the original parish register.


For example, on the IGI, my 4xgreat grandfather’s marriage is noted as:


William Paton, male

Spouse, Christian Hay

Marriage, 07 FEB 1798 Perth, Perth, Scotland


If I look up the original record in the register though, I get the following:



Perth the Third of February One Thousand Seven Hundred and Ninety eight contracted William Paton, Soldier in the second battalion of Breadalbanes Fencibles and Christian Hay, Daughter to the Deceased Lauchlan Hay, Resident in Perth, Parties both in this Parish Elder Thomas Robertson

The Persons before named were regularly proclaimed and married the seventh day of February said year by Mr Duncan MacFarlan Minister of the Gaelic Chapel in Perth.


From this I not only learn of William’s military career and his wife’s father’s name, I also now know that there is a strong possibility that one of the two (or possibly both) was likely to have been a Gaelic speaker.


At Scotland’s Greatest Story we regularly visit New Register House and other archive repositories to look at the old parochial registers, precisely to put the flesh on the bones of a tree that many have tried to establish from the Family Search website. Within a few hours we can transform your tree from a collection of empty names to an understanding of the lifestyles that many of your ancestors had – and when errors do pop up that have originated from the IGI or the main website, we can put you back on the correct track!


For more information please visit or contact us at We look forward to hearing from you!



Chris Paton

Scotland’s Greatest Story

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