Family Research

Put Flesh on the Bones

Do you need help with research in Orkney?

Perhaps you have done all you can online and need some help to access local records to fill in the blanks. Or you may just be curious about great-grandfather Thomas Marwick who was born in Stromness in 1872.

Orcadians have always taken a keen interest in their history and their family; records and stories have been handed down through the generations. There has been an archive in the library since 1973 but since the opening of the new Orkney Library and Archive in 2003 the facilities for local research here are almost unbeatable. If you haven't already discovered the archive's informative, entertaining and frequently surreal blog, do take a look.

As they say there, the archive has been built up to four strongrooms and a searchroom "which heave with Church records, Local Authority Records, Sheriff Court papers, Estate Collections, Maps, Census material and a huge number of personal contributions from members of the public"

An enormous quantity of information is of course still held privately. My own family has dozens of family trees and centuries-old paperwork and letters. If I don't know the answer to your question, I might well know someone who does.

Your ancestors could be remembered here for the business they ran. If they owned their farm there will be records of the transfer of property. If they didn't always act as the Kirk thought they should, the details might be in the Kirk Session records. They could feature in the service records of the men who worked in Canada for the Hudson's Bay Company. If they were a well-known member of the local community, there could have been a short obituary in The Orcadian or Orkney Herald.

Find your Grandfather for Twenty Pounds, Dig Him up for Forty ...

... was suggested to me as a headline. Twenty pounds is the minimum charge and will cover an hour's research which, given a name and date, should be enough to find some basic information on the family and where they lived. You can then get an estimate of what other information might be available and discuss what else you might like to get done and what the cost is likely to be. Another hour could be enough for quite a bit of background detail.

As well as getting more names and dates for the family tree, you might like a picture of the district they came from, with the family home if it is still there, or the view they would have looked out on

Get in touch to discuss what I can do for you and to get an estimate of the cost.