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Scottish Memorial Inscriptions

This week I'm highlighting one of our lesser known datasets - the Scottish Memorial Inscriptions (SMI) Collection.  

2014 is the year of Homecoming in Scotland. Those of us with Scottish ancestors can visit the region and attend a range of events focusing on its rich history. Scotland's Tartan Day, for example, will be held in the Easter school holidays (5-13 April), and marks the signing of the Declaration of Arbroath in 1320.

Deceased Online's SMI collection can help you find Scottish ancestors, even if they are not buried in Scotland. Some may have died and been buried abroad or at sea, but are commemorated at their birthplace or family home.

Compiled by our partners at Scottish Memorial Inscriptions, the SMI collection includes a huge range of varying data from roughly 200 cemeteries and burial grounds across the following counties:

Dundee City
Lanarkshire (North and South)
West Lothian 
The records date back as far as 1526 and include around 300,000 names. High quality images are available (in many instances) of the headstones. These records are particularly good value as they include the image along with a separate  transcription. In fact, you can view the whole collection of a given kirkyard or cemetery for less than £8 (prices vary depending on size of individual collection).

To search the collection, simply go to the Advanced Search page and tick the "headstone collections only" option (as shown below). Complete the name of the individual (or surname of family) you are looking for, and select "United Kingdom" in the country box. Then choose on "Scotland" as the region, whichever county you wish to search, and the dates from and to. In the example below, I am looking for anyone named David Henderson between the years 1700 and 1925.

After clicking 'search' you will reach the 'search results' page:

From here you can identify the likely burial place. In this example, I have chosen Abernethy Church Cemetery. The results for this are:

As some of my Hendersons may have relatives in this cemetery with other names (including women buried in their maiden name), I chose the £5.50 option of 595 headstones. As there are so many inscriptions, I narrow the search by using the keyword 'farmer'. I have also opted for 100 results per page in the box on the top right:

For family historians, these inscriptions provide not just death and burial details, but a wealth of other social details and an insight into ancestors' personalities. Being able to search this collection by keyword, such as 'farmer', 'war', or 'drowned' can help you identify relatives with common names, but for whom you know occupation or other social details.

This image [below] of the memorial plaque for eight year old Marjorie Fleming who was buried in 1811 reveals that she was an "Author, poet and diarist". This is a beautiful memory of a young child and provides details that cannot be found in official burial records.

Thousands of Scots ended their days in British India. In some cases, no known records survive of their deaths. Some of these Scots were commemorated on their families' headstones in kirkyards around Scotland. The image below shows a headstone wit the details of James M. Russell of the Royal Scots Fusiliers, who died in India. The inscription reads:

AGED 61 
25TH DEC 1943 AGED 28. 

DIED 15TH FEB 1961 

Following on from the SMIs, we are really excited about our next release of another major Scottish dataset. The new collection includes records from 200 burial sites across one historic county. We'll be launching this at WDYTYA? Live in London next month. We've had a few guesses as to which area this is on our Facebook and Twitter pages. If you think you know, just write on our wall or send us a tweet. We love to hear from you!


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