This work identifies people from the old counties of West Lothian, Mid Lothian, East Lothian, Berwickshire, Roxburghshire, Selkirkshire, and Peeblesshire, now known as Lothian and Borders, for the period 1800 to 1850. The information derives from a wide range of contemporary sources such as court records, newspapers and journals, monumental inscriptions, and documents found in archives. The main families traditionally found in the region, which stretches from the Firth of Forth to the border with England, include Home, Lindsay, Elphinstone, Seton, Dundas, Hamilton, Scott, Elliot, and Douglas.
The society and economy of south east Scotland at the time was rural and depended on industries such as farming, fishing, whaling, coalmining, and forestry. There were several, long established, small burghs in the region, which were either market towns, fishing ports, or administrative centers, including Kelso, Dunbar, Melrose, Haddington, Musselburgh, Galashiels, Peebles, Jedburgh, Dalkeith, Linlithgow, Queensferry, Prestonpans, and Selkirk. The River Tweed forms the natural border between Scotland and England; however, Berwick-on-Tweed, once one of Scotland’s original burghs, is legally in Northumberland, England. The most important town in south east Scotland was, and is, Edinburgh, which has been covered in the book, The People of Edinburgh and Leith at Home and Abroad, 1800-1850.
For those wishing to put their Scottish family history into context the best sources are the Old Statistical Accounts of the 1790s and the New Statistical Accounts compiled between 1832 and 1845. These Accounts were produced by parish ministers and covered a wide range of subjects, such as geography, education, history, the economy, agriculture, shipping, population, and religion. These Accounts are available on the website of the National Library of Scotland. Possibly the best collection of local history and family histories can be found in the library of the Scottish Genealogy Society in Edinburgh. Local family history societies include the Borders FHS in Galashiels, the Lothians FHS in Bonnyrigg, and the West Lothian FHS in Bathgate.