Genealogical and historical information and links for anyone researching their ancestors in England and the British Isles

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Themes Famous People National Parks
Actors/Actresses and Directors Nobel Prize Winners
Anglo-Saxons and Danes Heritage and Nature Places of Interest
Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty Historic Events Prime Ministers
Artists and Architects Inventors and Scientists Royal Consorts and Heirs
Composers Maps and Documents World Heritage Sites
Explorers and Adventurers Monarchs Writers and Poets

Scotland is made up of thirty-three historic counties of whose boundaries can be seen on the map on the Association of British Counties website.

Historic Scottish counties

Includes the Shetland Islands (the northern most point of the British Isles), the Orkney Islands and the Inner and Outer Hebrides.

Also includes Ben Nevis (1,343 metres), the highest mountain in the British Isles.

About 75,000 people speak Scottish Gaelic in Scotland, mainly on the Hebrides. It is one of only four Celtic languages that are still spoken today; Irish Gaelic, Welsh and Breton being the other three. Scottish Gaelic developed out of Irish Gaelic which came over from Ireland in the 5th century. Manx is also closely related and was spoken on the Isle of Man until it became extinct towards the end of the 20th century.

Artists and Architects
The architect Robert Adam was born in 1728 in Kirkcaldy, Fife. Together with his younger brother William they transformed the architectural fashions of their time. He was buried in Westminster Abbey in 1792.

Robert Adam
Famous people buried at Westminster Abbey

The civil engineer Thomas Telford was born in 1757 in Westerkirk, Langholm, Dumfriesshire. He designed and built some of the most challenging road and canal systems of the Industrial Revolution including the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct on the Ellesmere Canal in North Wales, the Caledonian Canal in Scotland, the Menai Suspension Bridge linking Anglesey to mainland Wales and St Katherine Docks in London. He was buried in Westminster Abbey in 1834.

Thomas Telford
Famous people buried at Westminster Abbey

Explorers and Adventurers

The privateer turned pirate William Kidd, better known as Captain Kidd, was born around 1645 in Greenock, Strathclyde. Having worked as a privateer protecting trade routes in the West Indies, Kidd was sent to Madagascar to protect East India Company ships against pirates in the Indian Ocean. It was on this expedition that Kidd became a pirate himself, a decision which would eventually lead to his execution in London in 1701.

The sailor Alexander Selkirk was born in Largo, Fife in 1676. In 1704 he was a crewmember under the command of the pirate William Dampier in the South Pacific. Due to Dampier's cruelty Selkirk asked to be left on one of the Juan Fernández Islands which lie in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Chile. Selkirk stayed on the uninhabited island for over four years before being eventually rescued, a story which is said to have been the basis for Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe.

Alexander Mackenzie was born at Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis in 1764. He entered the fur business in Canada and while there discovered the Mackenzie River in 1789. In 1792 he set out to become the first European to cross the Rocky Mountains and reached the Pacific Ocean the following year.

David Livingstone, was born in 1813 in Blantyre, Lanarkshire. He took part in numerous expeditions in Africa and discovered the Victoria Falls on the Zambezi River. While on an expedition to find the disputed source of the Nile in 1873 he became ill and died in Old Chitambo (now in Zambia). He is buried in Westminster Abbey.

David Livingstone
Famous people buried at Westminster Abbey

Born to US parents in Glasgow in 1886, Arthur Whitten Brown was the navigator in 1919 when together with the pilot John William Alcock they became the first people to fly non-stop across the Atlantic Ocean in 1919. They took off from Newfoundland in Canada and crash-landed at Clifden, County Galway in Ireland.

Famous People
Flora Macdonald was born on South Uist in the Hebrides in 1722. A Jacobite sympathiser, in 1746 she helped the Young Pretender Charles Edward Stuart to escape the country after defeat at the Battle of Culloden. Disguising Bonnie Prince Charlie as her maid, she took him by boat from Benbecula to Portree on the Isle of Skye from where he was able to flee to the continent. She was later arrested and imprisoned in the Tower of London until 1747.

Flora Macdonald
Charles Edward Stuart
Battle of Culloden
Famous people imprisoned at the Tower of London

Andrew Carnegie was born in Dunfermline, Fife in 1835 and his family emigrated to the USA in 1848. He was to become one of the richest people in history through iron and steel after which he spent the rest of his life donating money to philanthropic projects. He returned to live in Scotland in 1901, taking up residence at Skibo Castle, Sutherland.

Birthplace museum, Dunfermline

John Muir was born in Dunbar, East Lothian in 1838. In 1849 his family emigrated to the USA where he was to become a pioneer in the national park movement and an early voice for the importance of protecting the wilderness.

Birthplace museum, Dunbar


Association of Scottish Genealogists and Record Agents (ASGRA)

Heritage and Nature

Forestry Commission

Historic Scotland

National Museums of Scotland

National Trust for Scotand

Scottish Natural Heritage

Stair Society
(Scottish legal history)

Historic Events

Major Battles
In 1314 at the Battle of Bannockburn the Scots reaffirmed their independence when a force led by Robert I, de Bruce defeated an English army under Edward II near Stirling. The English had wanted to relieve Stirling Castle as a step to reasserting their power in Scotland which had been undermined by the successful guerilla war led by Bruce. The defeat forced them to come to terms with the loss of their influence in Scotland, finally recognizing the country's sovereignty in 1328.

Edward II

In 1746 at the Battle of Culloden the last major Jacobite rebellion was put down by the Hanoverians under the Duke of Cumberland.

Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie) had landed in Scotland the previous year reigniting the Jacobite cause which had lain dormant since the previous uprising under his father
James Francis Edward Stuart had been suppressed in 1715. The Jacobites had gained several victories before the battle at Drummossie Moor near Inverness but this time they were outnumbered and this disadvantage was exacerbated by the Hanoverians' use of cannons. Before Charles finally withdrew a thousand of his followers lay dead, a fifth of their number.

Charles fled back to France and finally Italy putting an end to the Jacobite cause. Culloden was the last battle to take place on British soil.

James Francis
Charles Edward
Battle of Culloden
Jacobite Cause

Inventors and Scientists
The engineer James Watt was born in Greenock, Renfrewshire in 1736.

James Watt

The inventor and telephone pioneer Alexander Graham Bell was born in 1847 in Edinburgh. He moved to the USA where in 1875 he made the very first telephone transmission. He patented the telephone the following year a few hours before his rival, the American Elisha Gray. In 1882 Bell became a US citizen.

The television pioneer John Logie Baird was born in Helensburgh, Dunbartonshire in 1888. His design was used by the BBC in 1929.

John Logie Baird

Maps and Documents

Edinburgh Gazette
(With the London and Belfast editions the UK's official newspapers of record dating to 1665)

National Library of Scotland Maps
(Online maps of Scotland dating back to the 16th century)

Scottish Documents
(Online Scottish wills from 1500-1901)


Scottish House of Stewart
House of Stewart
In 1542 Mary, Queen of Scots was born at Linlithgow Palace, West Lothian and became Queen of Scotland at the age of one week. She ruled until 1567 when she was forced to abdicate in favour of her son James VI.

Mary, Queen of Scots

House of Stuart
House of Stuart
The first King of both England and Scotland James I, was born at Edinburgh Castle in 1566. Acceding to the Scottish throne in 1567 as James VI, on the death of the childless Elizabeth I in 1603, he became King of England due to him being the great-great-grandson of Henry VII. He reigned until his death in 1625.

James I

Charles I was born at Dunfermline Palace, Fife in 1600. He came to the throne in 1625 and ruled until 1649 when, after losing the English Civil War, he was beheaded in front of the Banqueting House in London. The republican Commonwealth followed until 1660 when the monarchy was restored with his son Charles II.

Charles I
Charles I
Execution of Charles I

House of Windsor
House of Windsor
Elizabeth II died at Balmoral in 2022 and is buried in St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle. She was Britain's longest-serving monarch.

Elizabeth II
Elizabeth II
Elizabeth II
Elizabeth II
Monarchs buried at Windsor

National Parks
Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park was inaugurated as Scotland's first ever National Park in 2002.

In 2003 the Cairngorms National Park became Scotland's second National Park and Britain's largest.

Nobel Prize Winners

The chemist William Ramsay was born in Glasgow in 1852. In 1904 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry.

The chemist Alexander Todd was born in Glasgow in 1907. In 1957 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry.

Alexander Todd

The economist James A. Mirrlees was born in Minnigaff in Kirkcudbrightshire in 1936. In 1996 he shared the Nobel Prize for Economics with the American William Vickrey.

Born in Glasgow in 1863, the politician Arthur Henderson won the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1934. A proponent of disarmament he was president of the World Disarmament Conference and was involved in the setting up of the League of Nations in 1919 (a forerunner to the United Nations).

Arthur Henderson

The biologist Lord Boyd Orr was born as John Boyd Orr in 1880 in Kilmaurs, Ayrshire. In 1945 he became the first person to run the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization through which he helped improve the global food situation and was awarded in 1949 the Nobel Prize for Peace. He died at Newton near Brechin, Angus in 1971.

The pioneer of atomic and nuclear physics C.T.R. Wilson was born as Charles Thomson Rees Wilson in Glencorse near Edinburgh in Midlothian in 1869. In 1927 he shared the Nobel Prize for Physics with the American Arthur Holly Compton. He died in 1959 at Carlops, Peeblesshire.

The physicist Charles Barkla died in 1944 in Edinburgh. In 1917 he had been awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics for his research into X-rays.

The physicist Edward Appleton died in 1965 in Edinburg. In 1947 he had been awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics for his work on studying the ionosphere, a layer of which is named after him.

Edward Appleton

Physiology or Medicine
The Canadian physiologist J.J.R. Macleod was born as John James Rickard Macleod in 1876 in Cluny, Fife. In 1923 he shared the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine with the Canadian F.G. Banting for their discovery of insulin. He died in 1935 in Aberdeen.

The bacteriologist Alexander Fleming was born in 1881 at Lochfield Farm near Darvel, Ayrshire. In 1928 he discovered penicillin for which in 1945 he shared the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine with the Australian Howard Florey and the German-born Ernst Boris Chain who were able to produce it in sufficient quantities. In 1955 his ashes were interred in St Paul's Cathedral.

Alexander Fleming
Famous people buried at St Paul's Cathedral

The pharmacologist James W. Black was born in 1924 at Uddingston near Glasgow, Lanarkshire. In 1988 he shared the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine with the Americans Gertrude B. Elion and George H. Hitchings for their research into drug treatment.

James W. Black

Places of Interest

Balmoral Castle

Edinburgh Castle

Cathedrals and Abbeys
Arbroath Abbey

Cambuskenneth Abbey

Dunfermline Abbey


Melrose Abbey

Paisley Abbey

Scone Abbey

Historic Buildings
Andrew Carnegie's birthplace, Dunfermline

Sir J.M. Barrie's birthplace, Kirriemuir

John Muir's birthplace, Dunbar

Robert Burns' birthplace, Alloway

Abbotsford, Sir Walter Scott's home

Stately Homes and Palaces
Dunfermline Palace

Linlithgow Palace

The Palace of Holyrood House is the Queen's official residence in Scotland.

The University of St Andrews - Scotland's oldest - was founded in 1413. In the UK only the universities at Oxford and Cambridge pre-date the institution.

The University of Glasgow was founded in 1451. It is the fourth oldest in the English-speaking world.

The University of Aberdeen was founded as King's College in 1495. In 1860 it joined with Marischal College (founded 1593) to form the modern university. Aberdeen is the fifth oldest university in the English-speaking world.

The University of Edinburgh was established in 1582, receiving a Royal Charter from James VI. It is the sixth oldest in the English-speaking world.

Prime Ministers

Prime Ministers
The Prime Minister from 1762-63, the Earl of Bute was buried in 1792 on the Isle of Bute.

Earl of Bute

The Earl of Aberdeen, Prime Minister in 1852-55, was born as George Gordon in Edinburgh in 1784. His administration was responsible for Britain entering the Crimean War in 1854 and due to its mismanagement he was forced to resign in 1855.

Earl of Aberdeen

Alexander Mackenzie was born in Logierait, Perthshire in 1822 and emigrated to Canada in 1842. He entered Canadian politics and from 1873-78 served as the Canada's first ever Liberal Prime Minister.

Prime Minister from 1905-08, Henry Campbell-Bannerman was born in Kelvinside, Glasgow in 1836. In 1908 he was buried at the church in Meigle in Perthshire.

Henry Campbell-Bannerman

Arthur James Balfour, Prime Minister from 1902-05, was born at the family home Whittingehame House near Stenton in East Lothian in 1848. On his death in 1930 his remains were buried in the grounds of the house.

Arthur James Balfour

Born as James Ramsay MacDonald in Lossiemouth, Morayshire in 1866, Ramsay
became the first Labour Prime Minister from 1924-27 and again from 1929-35. He died in 1937 on a liner crossing the Atlantic Ocean. His ashes were interred at Old Spynie churchyard near his birthplace of Lossienmouth.

Ramsay Macdonald

Ramsay Macdonald

We hear war called murder. It is not: it is suicide.

(Observer, 1930)

Gordon Brown was born as James Gordon Brown in Glasgow in 1951. After 10 years as Chancellor of the Exchequer, Brown became Prime Minister in 2007, taking over mid-term from Tony Blair who resigned after losing the confidence of his Cabinet and party. Gordon Brown resigned as Prime Minister in 2010 after Labour failed to win a majority in the general election.

Gordon Brown

Prime Minister from 1997 until 2007, Tony Blair was born in Edinburgh in 1953. Blair became leader of the Labour Party in 1994 on the death of John Smith and with the election win of 1997 ended 18 years of Conservative governments. The third youngest Prime Minister ever, his party has since won reelection twice.

Tony Blair

Alec Douglas-Home, Prime Minister in 1963-64, died in 1995 at The Hirsel, the ancestral home of his family near Coldstream in Berwickshire.

Alec Douglas-Home

Royal Consorts and Heirs

House of Stuart
Margaret Tudor, the eldest daughter of Henry VII and sister of Henry VIII, died at Methven Castle in 1541. In 1503 she had married James IV of Scotland and in 1513, at the age of one, her son became James V. Her great-grandson united the Scottish and English Crowns as James I of England.

Margaret Tudor

The eldest son of James I of England Henry, Prince of Wales was born in 1594 at Stirling Castle, Stirlingshire. He died in 1612 before he could become king and so it was his brother who was crowned Charles I on their father's death in 1625.

Henry, Prince of Wales

World Heritage Sites
Britain's remotest islands, St Kilda was designated a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO in 1986 and the site was extended in 2004.

The old and new towns of Scotland's capital city Edinburgh, were designated a World Heritage Site in 1995.

The neolithic monuments on the island of Orkney were designated a World Heritage Site in 1999.

The 18th century industrial village of New Lanark in Lanarkshire was designated a World Heritage Site in 2001. The village, designed by the philanthropist Robert Owen around the newly introduced cotton mills, became a model for industrial communities developed around the needs of people.

Robert Owen

Built in 1890 to connect Fife with Edinburgh across the Firth, the 2,529 metre Forth Bridge was designated a World Heritage Site in 2015.

Writers and Poets
The writer and philosopher David Hume was born in Edinburgh in 1711. In 1739 A Treatise Upon Human Nature was published. He died in Edinburgh in 1776 and is buried in the city.

David Hume

It is not contrary to reason to prefer the destruction of the whole world to the scratching of my finger.
A Treatise upon Human Nature (1737)

Hume's friend, the writer, economist and philosopher Adam Smith, was born in Kirkcaldy, Fife in 1723. In 1776 he published Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. He died in 1790 in Edinburgh where he is also buried.

Adam Smith

With the greater part of rich people, the chief enjoyment of riches consists in the parade of riches, which in their eyes is never so complete as when they appear to possess those decisive marks of opulence which nobody can possess but themselves.
Wealth of Nations (1776)

To found a great empire for the sole purpose of raising up a people of customers, may at first sight appear a project fit only for a nation of shopkeepers. It is, however, a project altogether unfit for a nation of shopkeepers; but extremely fit for a nation whose government is influenced by shopkeepers.
Wealth of Nations (1776)

The poet Robert Burns was born in 1759 in a small thatched cottage in Alloway, Ayrshire. He died in 1796 in Dumfries, Dumfriesshire and is buried in the town.

Robert Burns
Robert Burns website
Birthplace museum, Alloway

But pleasures are like poppies spread,
You seize the flow'r, its bloom is shed;
Or like the snow falls in the river,
A moment white - then melts for ever.

Tam o' Shanter (1791)

The historical novelist Walter Scott, was born in 1771 in Edinburgh. He died in 1832 at his home Abbotsford in Roxburgh, Roxburghshire. He is buried at Dryburgh Abbey, Berwickshire.

Walter Scott

Walter Scott website
Poetry Archive

The historian and philosopher Thomas Carlyle was born at the Arched House in Ecclefechan, Dumfriesshire in 1795. On his death in 1881 in London - where he had lived since 1834 - he was buried in the village of his birth.

Thomas Carlyle

Man's unhappiness, as I construe, comes of his greatness; it is because there is an Infinite in him, which with all his cunning he cannot quite bury under the Finite.
Sartor Resartus (1834)

The author of Treasure Island Robert Louis Stevenson, was born in 1850 in Edinburgh. He died in 1894 at his estate on Samoa in the South Seas where he is also buried.

Robert Louis Stevenson

There is no duty we so much underrate as the duty of being happy.
Virginibus Puerisque (1881)

Here lies one who meant well, tried a little, failed much: surely that may be his epitaph, of which he need not be ashamed.
Across the Plains (1892)

Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Homes, was born in Edinburgh in 1859.

Arthur Conan Doyle
Arthur Conan Doyle Literary Estate
Sherlock Homes Society

You see, but you do not observe.
Scandal in Bohemia - The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1892)

The writer and creator of Peter Pan J.M. Barrie was born as James Matthew Barrie in a weaver's cottage in Kirriemuir, Angus in 1860.

J.M. Barrie
Birthplace museum, Kirriemuir

To die will be an awfully big adventure.
Peter Pan (1928)

The author of The Thirty-Nine Steps John Buchan, was born in Perth, Perthshire in 1875.

John Buchan
John Buchan Society

The poet Hugh MacDiarmid was born as Christopher Murray Grieve in Langholm, Dumfriesshire in 1892. He died in Edinburgh in 1978.

Hugh MacDiarmid

The poet Carol Ann Duffy was born in Glasgow in 1955. In 2009 she became the first woman to hold the position of Poet Laureate, succeeding Andrew Motion who had held the post since 1999. Previously held for life, the position of poet laureate is now restricted to a 10-year period. In 2019 she was succeeded by Simon Armitage.

Poets laureate

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