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Re: Researching Genealogy

Dear Adrian,

Your inquiry suggests that you would like to find an easy way to trace your
ancestors.  I'm sorry to say, it is very unlikely that you will be that lucky
unless you find a close relative who has already done the work.

My suggestion is to start with yourself and work backwards as far as you can.
Write down dates and places of birth, marriage, & death.  As you go back, you
will get to some unknown data.  Go then to that location and look at the
certificates of birth, marriage, or death to get other data listed on that
record.  Expect to pay $5 per certificate.  Use them to trace earlier records.

Check again with me to see if I have your earliest ancestor in our Clan
Sinclair Archives.  If I do, then I can give your a great deal of earlier

If I do not have your ancestors in our records, then you have to dig further.
If you get to ancestors in Scotland, then you can persue the following route.

Scotland is a good place to seek information about your ancestors and your
history because the country made the central registration of births,
marriages, and 
deaths compulsory in 1855, much earlier than in many other lands. Even before 
1855, parishes under the predominant Church of Scotland were just as
some keeping records as far back as the 16th century. In general, records in 
the south and east of Scotland started in the 17th century, followed by the 
northern and western parishes during the 18th century The far-flung 
Gaelic-speaking islands took up the practice during the 19th century. Though
mold, mice, fire, and even floods have damaged or destroyed some parish
records, the details from the bulk of them are now all safely listed in
Edinburgh at the Scots Ancestry Research Society.

Tom Johnston, then Secretary of State for Scotland, established the society in
1945.  The society has access to many sources - such as the nearby Official
Central Records Office - plus census, property and similar records, old
newspapers, local history archives, and information from graveyard

Using a library of information collected during the past 50 years, the
society's researchers can eliminate much of the time-consuming groundwork that
tracing your ancestry requires. This nonprofit organization charges an initial
minimum fee of $60 to conduct a preliminary search, which largely reveals if
it is worth searching further. After that, customers pay as they go; the
society never undertakes more research until a user gives the word. The cost
of tracing one's family line typically averages between $150 and $250. Rarely
do successful searches exceed $420.

Many visitors find it useful to commission the Society's initial help before
they come to Scotland, taking their own part in it once they arrive. The
society can also, on request from any client outside Scotland, undertake the
entire search. The final report it prepares provides an amazing amount of
detail, including accurate quotations from the original records, plus names
occupations, addresses, in formation from gravestones, and even maps. It can
also suggest relevant back ground reading and other helpful hints.

Many have described the thrilling moment when, at the search's end, they stood
in a
church graveyard and saw their family's name engraved there. The moment I
learned of the society, I rushed to find out the details that its staff would
need from my own family which, though I am a Scot in Scotland, I know of only
the past two generations. Like many others, I now cannot wait for the moment
when [find myself contacting a family member I did not know existed or visit a
place connecled with my family's past.

The Scots Ancestry Research Society is located at 29-A Albany Street,
EH1 3QN, Scotland.  The phone is 44 131 556 4220.  It is open to visitors on
Mondays through Fridays from 10 am to 4 pm.

Another approach you could take is to employ the services of a professional
researcher,  such as John MacInnes, Highland Heritage, 5 Chapelton Place, Muir
of Ord, Rossshire IV6 7TG, Scotland.  His phone in 01463-871125, or fax
01463-715586.  Such persons are registered and are familiar with the
repositories of data.  Typically, they charge about $100 per day plus
expenses.  Terms should be quoted before you engage them.

Best wishes!

H. S. "Pete" Cummings, Jr.
Clan Sinclair Genealogist