Prior to 1855, gravestone inscriptions represent almost the sole source of death information in Scotland. After that date, Scottish law mandated the systematic recording of births, marriages, and deaths throughout the nation, while prior to 1855 Scottish parish registers tended to focus on baptismal and marriage entries, to the virtual exclusion of death records. The only other major sources of death information lie in the obituary pages of the Scottish press, or in the various Registers of Testaments. In recent years the precariousness of Scottish tombstones has been underscored by their deteriorating condition, prompting various genealogical societies to transcribe the information found on them. When one considers that a number of these gravestone inscriptions contain references to family members who died abroad, as well as those who died in Scotland, Scottish gravestones take on even more importance for North Americans. These facts have not been lost on the indefatigable Scottish researcher, David Dobson, who, drawing upon both published and unpublished sources, has compiled this volume of death records, Scottish-American Gravestones, 1700-1900. In all there are more than 1,500 death records in the volume, and they are arranged alphabetically according to the surname of the decedent. While the transcriptions vary, all of them also give the decedent’s date and place of death and the source of the information, as well as, in many instances, the names of the individual’s parents, name of spouse, and even a word or two about occupation. While this diminutive volume can scarcely purport to be the final word on its subject, it nonetheless affords a substantial number of links to researchers hoping to bridge the gap between Scotland and North America.
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