Unravel Your Family History

Many surnames are intrinsically linked to The Banffshire Coast: the chances are that if you are a Findlater, Addison, Cowie, Duff or Geddes your ancestors will have lived on this beautiful stretch of coastline before going off to make their mark on the world. Fishermen, farmers, merchants, innovators, talented craftsmen and even smugglers – what secrets will your family tree reveal?

It is well known that Scots are among the greatest migrants and have had a huge impact on the development of many of the world’s leading nations. At first, many left their homeland to live across the border in other parts of the United Kingdom but as transport became more accessible they left their native shores for destinations as far flung as America and Australia.

Even now, centuries and many generations later, many people still feel a strong connection to Scotland and want to ‘come home’ to walk in the footsteps of their ancestors. Hundreds of them come to Banffshire to help gain the sense of identity that they so desire.

While the aim for many visitors is to see the rugged fishing villages their great-great grandfather worked in, or the fields where generations of their family worked the land, some actually discover that many distant relatives still live here and enjoy an unplanned – and sometimes very emotional – reunion.

The Banffshire Coast has excellent family history research facilities, from expert genealogists including Alison Smith of Gene Genie Scotland, museums packed with olden day photographs and memorabilia, district record offices, graveyards dating back centuries, and local people only too willing to share memories that may turn out to be the final piece of the puzzle.

It was not so long ago that researching your family history meant personally visiting the library or archive and spending hours trawling through birth, marriage and death certificates, rates records and even newspaper cuttings. But now, with the birth of the worldwide web, it’s easier than ever to carry out some basic research online in advance of your visit.

Doing some basic research before you arrive will allow you to maximise the time that you have available on The Banffshire Coast, so that you can visit the towns and villages where your ancestors lived rather than spending it sitting in front of a computer screen.

However, if you simply do not have a clue where to start or want some advice about how to interpret some of the records that you have unearthed, then you should most definitely spend some time with our genealogical researchers.

Gene Genie Scotland, which often works out of the fascinating Salmon Bothy in Portsoy can guide you through the whole process. Alison often stages drop-in sessions at the museum where visitors can get the benefit of her expert knowledge – keep an eye on the events section of the website.

It may also be worth getting in touch with the Aberdeen and North East Family History Society or paying a visit to the area’s local studies department, which is based a few miles away in Oldmeldrum.

While you are visiting The Banffshire Coast, it’s always worth checking local information boards as there are a great many local history groups which stage regular weekly or monthly meetings. These include the Cullen, Deskford and Portknockie Heritage Group, Portsoy Past and Present and the Banff Preservation and Heritage Society.

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