Scottish Highlanders on the Eve of the Great Migration, 1725-1775: The People of the Hebrides


Author: Dobson, David
Publication Date: 2015
Pages: xiv 118 pp.
ISBN: 9780806357447


The Hebrides are those islands lying off the coast of the Western Highlands of Scotland. They form parts of the counties of Ross and Cromarty, Inverness, and Argyll, and contain thirty-six parishes. Genealogical research in this region can be challenging because the parish registers, which are the backbone of Scottish genealogical research, only exist for about a quarter of the Hebridean parishes before 1800. In the absence of the registers, researchers have to rely on alternative sources, few of which are available online. This book is designed to facilitate research for those living far from the source material in Scotland.

What other resources are available to those wishing to trace their immigrant ancestors from the Hebrides of the 18th century? Extant parish registers are limited to Presbyterian parishes, the most numerous denomination in the Hebrides. Following the failure of the Jacobite Rising of 1715, the Episcopal and Roman Catholic churches were subject to penal laws, which means that their baptismal and marriage records do not exist for much of the period. Where such information is incomplete researchers have to turn to other sources to flesh out their family histories. Such sources include court records, estate papers, wills and testaments, services of heirs, registers of sasines, registers of deeds, port books, rent rolls, tax records, monumental inscriptions, and published works–on both sides of the Atlantic–which were used in the research for this book. In all cases Dr. David Dobson identifies a Hebrides inhabitant by name, location, occupation, date, and source. In many instances the records also indicate an individual’s kinsmen, intention to emigrate, military service, and other valuable characteristics. Since Celtic was still spoken in the Hebrides in the 18th century, researchers will find evidence of this in the surnames and place names that arise in the entries. In all, this original source sheds light on between two and three thousand persons possessing a connection to the Scottish Hebrides between 1725 and 1775.

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