Heritage and Genealogy

14 December 2022

Would you like to know more about where you came from? Trace your roots in Lanarkshire and walk in the footsteps of your ancestors.

Genealogy is the study of past and present members of a family or families. Many millions of people from Scotland make up the Scottish Diaspora (people who have emigrated from Scotland and their descendants) There is a wealth of information to explore if your family came from Lanarkshire whether you are still local or anywhere in the world.

As well as visiting the towns and villages where your ancestors lived, there are a lot of historical cemetaries you may wish to visit, such as Cambusnethan Cemetery, which opened around 1861 and Lanark Cemetery beside the ruins of St Kentigern’s Church, which is rumoured to be the marrying place of William Wallace.

Archives in South Lanarkshire

South Lanarkshire's four main libraries, Hamilton Town House, East Kilbride, Rutherglen and Lanark all have family history and local history resources to help anyone interested in researching their family tree or the history of Lanarkshire and its parishes.

Collections include the census returns from 1841 to 1901, the Old Parochial Registers which recorded births, deaths and marriages from 1553 until 1855, town directories, extensive local newspaper collections, electoral registers, valuation rolls, sasines and commissariat indexes, monumental gravestone inscriptions, burial records and county and burgh records.  Apart from histories of Lanarkshire and surrounding parishes we also have statistical records of all the parishes in Scotland. This treasure trove of information is invaluable to anyone who is interested in delving into their family’s past. Combining this information can form a mosaic of your ancestors life, forming a more complete picture than is possible from simply using online databases.

The above list of records is not a complete list, only a selection from among the wealth of materials available. Each library listed above holds a wide range of material specific to it’s own local area, such as parish registers of births and deaths prior to 1855 but not necessarily a collection covering the whole area of South Lanarkshire.

If you intend to visit to carry out ancestry research, a phone call in advance is often a good idea to check the library you are visiting holds records for the geographical area you are interested in.

South Lanarkshire: local history, heritage and family history

Archives in North Lanarkshire

North Lanarkshire Heritage Centre is a stunning contemporary building and the new home for all North Lanarkshire's archives.  All are welcome and guidance is available to first-time researchers of family histories or local studies.

Documents ranging from the 15th to 21st centuries are all contained in one easily-searchable facility. There is a whole room dedicated to family history research, in addition to the existing local studies room with its extensive reference library, photography archive and local newspaper database. 

A photocopying service is available, which includes maps of old boundaries and mine-workings, essential for modern-day planning enquiries and applications. For current fees, please contact the centre.

North Lanarkshire: local history, heritage and family history

You could also consider contacting one of the following local groups: Lanarkshire Family History Society, Stonehouse heritage group, Kilsyth Heritage, Cumbernauld Historical Society, Lanarkshire Police Historical Society

Other articles to inspire you