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Historical Articles from Larry Ruickbie
Searching for Your Canadian/Scottish Ancestors
Wrap up

Larry Ruickbie
Me (It’s my opus and I’ll appear as young as I wish – okay Bix.)

Have fun with it:

Hey, it’s more than just a wee bit dry and tedious, all this searching of lists and databases, so if you do get into queries and posts – have fun with it. You will find that things are better when they are light and cheerful. It’s your hobby and pass-time, not a critical do or yer gonna die situation. It’s as much fun as you allow it to be, honest… and you will find there are a lot of amusing, intelligent, easy going people in this world who delight in helping and having a giggle.

The 3 R’s of it: Reflect, Relax, Respond

Here are some important “Have I” questions:

1) Interviewed all living relatives in the line?
2) Checked Surname Thesaurus site for possible alternate spellings?
3) Checked for War Medals, military service, apprenticeships, or court records?
4) Tried Surname Navigator in all applicable countries with all spellings?
5) Checked all possible surname boards at Ancestry and Genforum?
6) Seen what searching for images might produce using your surnames?
7) Checked Abe Books for any possible hits using keywords or phrases?
8) Checked all possible related census information across ALL years and locations?
9) Investigated any applicable available Monumental Inscriptions?
10) Tried advanced searches at Google and at Yahoo on key players’ names?
11) Tried searching Roots Web and Igeneas trees for possible matches?
12) Ever posted a query on the present brick wall?
13) Tried using Batch Number search techniques?
14) Tried to contact distant relatives by snail mail?
15) Located and/or visited the headstones of ancestors?
16) Confirmed all information as fact with a recognized source?
17) Visited a LDS center, and actually looked at a few microfilms?
18) Thanked your marital partner for putting up with this family tree obsession of yours?
If you answered “No” to any of the above you may be missing things or be divorced soon.

Jumping the gap back in time from the end of Registrations in Scotland:

It does tend to get a wee bit tougher once you don’t have the SR records and their exact mapping of lineage to depend on.

In addition to death registers which are the best means to hop this transition period, you will also have Census information to make use of in order to jump back a generation or two.

Even though the earliest useable census is 1841 they all do contain age, birthplace, and occupations for each individual. I would caution that the information may not always be totally reliable, but if repeated across several of the census it becomes more probable as being close.

So your quest might be:

Firstly -to find the couple at the top of your tree on several of the census to roughly establish their parish of birth, and an approximate year of birth.

Next – (Hopefully the couple in question had children) – examine the birth sequence and names, and consider what their grandparent(s) names might be if the traditional naming patterns of Scotland were followed.

Lastly – Search IGI looking for the couple born to the corresponding possibilities of parents indicated by your studies above within the counties and time periods that are most likely.

Should you find some likely candidates this way – then investigate them well in an attempt to find more information that hopefully will prove the link.

Also do not forget to make use of all sibling information that you have come across. – Just perhaps a brother or sister of your target couple may have records indicating their mutual parents. Or the naming patterns of their children might be used as a supplementary tool.

In addition to all of the above do not forget the possible value of:

Occupation in apprentice records, etc.
Monumental Inscriptions
Court Records
Other persons’ posted Gedcoms or trees that may have listings of your couple
Other relative posts and queries at this and other boards
Advanced search engine techniques

The Brick Wall:
You will hit at least one of these – where you can’t find anything, anywhere to take you further – no birth, marriage, census or death data on a person.(– You think.)

It happens to everyone. (Usually in the period about mid/late 1700’s where everything gets vague real quick and the available on line data, or hardcopy data, is minimal.)

Rather than flail about the net wasting your time – take this opportunity to get all your filing done, organize/correct your information, and get all the input done to your tree software that you’ve been putting off. In other words – relax, regroup and rethink.

Then – look at all the confirmed information you have concerning the problem and look for what is fact, what is missing, and what you have tried so far.

Print off the “family book” and miscellaneous reports that the software you use produces – read it, analyze it, look for hints, possible clues, conflicting information, and holes. Attack the holes and conflicts.

Devise a NEW plan using NEW methods and NEW sources. Get away from the keyboard and go down to the local LDS Family Center and spend some time looking at some microfilms of parish records. Try a few of the alternate ideas mentioned well above. Buy a few area related “off-line” databases or books that might help (things that are worthwhile are not always free.)

Most people get frustrated when methods or sources that yielded quick success in the past fail.

You now will have to develop a NEW fresh approach using alternate methods and sources.

Firstly – put up a NEW well written, short, but sufficiently detailed query specifying exactly what you seek on several different sites. Repeat this as necessary every few weeks with a NEW re-written one, at a few different board(s) and possibly NEW ones to reach a NEW and different audience. And don’t limit yourself to just one end of the chain as far as places go – maybe somebody in Canada has info on someone in Scotland and vice versa. Give occupation and military service boards a go too if applicable.

Next – investigate all persons thoroughly surrounding the individual – all siblings and known associates and witnesses to family registered events. You have to attack the problem from the side now. It is quite possible their information may be more readily available and lend clues.

Then analyze all you know – the naming patterns may indicate a fathers name, a possible birth date, a possible place – then start fresh and go again.

After all - the person did exist…………………………………………….

Should you have read this small piece before I’m sure you will have noticed that it’s been broken up just a bit and many of the former links listed are gone- Fear not - The dissection was to aid those with slower connections to download sections more quickly. All the former links, and a few more, are attached in the trailing, much more compact, section – enjoy.

And finally:

If you “Pay forward” favours from one to another, we all will win.
Sow in hope………………………….


Charles Ruickbie
Granddad Charles in Drumelzier

Here’s tae us,
Wha’s like us?
Damn few-
And they’re a’ deid!

Rook as in chess, bee as in hive.

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