Scottish Genealogy: The Basics and Beyond by David Dobson: Review

Disclaimer: I have received a complimentary copy of this and other publications from Genealogical Publishing Company. However, my opinions are my own.

Scottish Genealogy: The Basics and Beyond by David Dobson is a brand new 2021 publication.

Dr. David Dobson has more than a half century of experience in Scottish genealogy and this 158 page guide offers a lot of information packed into its pages.


List of Illustrations
List of Abbreviations
Chapter 1: Getting Started
Chapter 2: Major Record Sources
Chapter 3: Church and Other Religious Records
Chapter 4: Secondary Sources
Chapter 5: Emigration
Appendix: Family History Societies
Surname Index

Chapter 1: Getting Started provides a brief overview of the history of Scottish surnames, Scottish websites and archives.

Chapter 2: Major Record Sources discusses vital records, divorce records and church registers.

Both chapters are quite short – fewer than ten pages in each.

Chapter 3: Church and Other Religious Records reminds us that not all Scots were members of the Church of Scotland. Various other denominations are profiled with many helpful notes regarding both publications and the span of years that a specific record set contains.

Dobson also discusses approximate years when other denominations were formed in Scotland.

Chapter 4: Secondary Sources is the heart of this book, covering 81 pages of this 158 page book.

I have only one quibble with the title Secondary Sources. Don’t take the chapter name too literally, as not all of the sources described in this chapter are what a researcher would classify as “secondary.”

For example, tax lists are included in this chapter, but, in my opinion, for example, an 1810 Washington County, Kentucky tax list created in that year by the tax collector and that is extant today with a digital image available, is a primary source of proof that a man named Lawrence Thompson owned 200 acres of land there in that year and paid XXX amount of money in tax.

Instead, in this book, I think perhaps that primary records refer to those records which a researcher would first seek out and secondary sources would be those record sets that are sought out later on in a project.

The types of records range form gravestone inscriptions to probate records to many record sets called by unfamiliar names to non-Scots, such as Heritor’s Records and Burgh Records.

There are hundreds of website urls and publications mentioned in this chapter.

I am only a beginner when it comes to Scottish research, but I doubt that Dr. Dobson overlooked many possibilities for research avenues in this chapter.

In fact, I wish I had some idea of the ancestral homes of my handufl of Scottish ancestors, all of whom were in the American colonies in the 1600s. I’d LOVE to be able to jump into these records to try to find them.

Chapter 5: Emigration is another chapter I really liked, as it is divided into sections based on the place where Scots settled – everywhere from Asia to the Caribbean to Ulster to other European countries. Each location section includes suggested publications covering the topic, which is extremely helpful to researchers.

I have to say I honestly LOVE this book and HIGHLY RECOMMEND it to anyone doing Scottish research.

To put it succinctly, David Dobson’s book will tell you everything you need to know about locating and accessing hundreds of different kinds of Scottish records that will help you with your genealogical research, regardless of your expertise level.

My only lament is that I don’t know anything about my own Scots ancestors to take advantage of all these resources!

Scottish Genealogy: The Basics and Beyond (ISBN 9780808321134) by Dr. David Dobson can be ordered online for $25.95 from the Genealogical Publishing Company.




2 thoughts on “Scottish Genealogy: The Basics and Beyond by David Dobson: Review”

  1. Thank you for the informative review. I just ordered the book. I have Scottish ancestors who settled in Canada, Prince Edward Isles. I look forward to reading it.

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