Three top genealogy websites to find & explore Scottish ancestors' occupations


06 June 2017
Map-1806-from-British-Library-Flickr-86435.jpg Early 19th century map of Scotland
Discover the top three genealogy websites to help you find and research the working lives of your Scottish ancestors.

Discover the three top genealogy websites to help you find and research the working lives of your Scottish ancestors with our expert guide.



If your forebears lived in Scotland, there are a vast number of records available to help you trace their occupations or careers. The most important starting point is the vital records of births, marriages and deaths, available at the ScotlandsPeople website.


Not only will these indicate a man's occupation in every record type, in all cases they will also provide information on the occupation of his father, and of a bride and her father in marriage records. Unmarried mothers will also be recorded with details of any occupation, while in more recent 20th century and 21st century records, women’s occupations are also recorded as a matter of course for all events.


Note that indexes are free to search on the ScotlandsPeople website, but you have to pay to view and download digital images of the records you want to see.


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Scottish Post Office directories

This series of 700 Scottish Post Office directories from 1773 to 1911 are freely available to search. You may be able to find a person by address, occupation, and by name within each, as in some cases additional snippets of information may be found by one entry, and not another. Advertisements carried within them for those in trades are also well worth searching.


•  The Statistical Accounts of Scotland 1791-1845

For a contemporary picture of where your ancestor might have worked in the 1790s and 1830s, consult the free Statistical Accounts of Scotland, which will also help to identify the names of the relevant estate holders for whom they might have worked. 


Find expert genealogist Chris Paton’s full guide to the many resources available, both online and within archives, to tracing your Scottish ancestors’ occupations in the July issue of Family Tree.


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