The standard historical genealogical gazetteer of Scotland, Lewis’s Topographical Dictionary of Scotland contains every fact of importance that illustrates the local history of Scotland. Arranged alphabetically by place (village, parish, town, etc.), it provides an accurate description of all Scottish localities as they were at the time of publication (1851), showing, for example, where a village was located in relation to its parish or nearest towns; where a parish was located in relation to its nearest district; and the names of villages situated within it, the number of inhabitants of a given locality, the main landowners, and chief topographical features. The importance of this work is that it enables you to identify a given locality in relation to a parish and, ultimately, to identify the location of the parish records. Thus, if you know the place of origin of your ancestor–the village or town–this gazetteer will show you, in effect, which parish records to search for births, marriages, and deaths. Modern gazetteers are useless for this purpose.
The civil registration of births, marriages, and deaths began in 1855, at which time all the old parish registers were called in. The LDS Church has copied the parish registers of every parish in Scotland, from the earliest up to 1855, and has indexed virtually all of them–which is all the more reason to know your ancestor’s parish!