Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Finding a Record Copy II or The Quick Brown Fox

Earlier this week, Ol' Myrt here responded to a query from Jackie Riggs in Finding a Record Copy or a FamilySearch folly. Here I described the long, slow process of finding the Family History Library's secret code for the parish of Carluke in Lanark, Scotland to locate Jackie's ancestor's November 1864 marriage record.

My Facebook friend Roger Moffat reported "I was able to find the record on in probably less time than it took to read the article. I didn't view it, but could have for £1.20 (about $US1.85) - 20p to see the single search result and £1 to view the image."

I had stated that was the quick answer, but the goal of that blog post was to deal with the problem FamilySearch is creating for researchers by mislabeling their source information. At the very least their page should point people to the alternative ScotlandsPeople.

Today I'll demonstrate how to access the same Scotland marriage record at ScotlandsPeople. 

1. Go to

2. Log in at "A". This area is also where you buy credits to spend on viewing indexed entries and actual documents as Roger mentioned above. You may do an all-inclusive search at point "C" on the main screen.

3. I chose to click "Marriages"  at "B" above to find the following search criteria screen.

I typed the "Surname" and "forename" of the male, and the "surname" of the female and the year range 1864-1864 in the search form at box "A" above. If I had additional questions about statutory marriages in Scotland, I could have clicked for search help at box "B" above. When I clicked to invoke the search, my results were posted above the search form at box "C" above. Notice I was quick and didn't specify the county or district, nor the female's "forename". If I had received too many hits I could modify my original search to narrow down the number of hits.

4. To view the "First page of matches" would require "1 credit" as shown below. However, I had none, so I clicked in the upper right portion of the ScotlandsPeople website to purchase credits.

5. I was able to quickly work through the screens to purchase 30 credits for £7 using my VISA card. Currency exchanges are handled by the credit card company.

6. I next clicked "view" in the screen above and was taken to the indexed entry list below, where indeed, we find the indexed entry for the couple in question.

To view the item for 5 credits, I clicked the grey box in the "image" column above, verified I was willing to spend "5 credits" and was taken to the following screen which was provided via Flash to my web browser.

7. Notice that across the top "menu bar" there is the option to save the view as a .tiff file of about 71.9 KB. One trick: You are prompted to type .tiff after the name you specify for the file -- a bit archaic, but easy to accomplish. One may also print, zoom and rotate the image, view the previous page and next page (the latter two options for a fee).

At point "A" above we are cautioned that "this is a copy of the official record for personal use only. It is not legally admissible."

As to the two dates at "B" (actual marriage date) and "C" (General Register Office recording date) above, Myrt's official "London correspondent", National Archives (UK) genealogy guru Audrey Collins comments:"I've had a look at the marriage on Scotland's People, and in their defence, FamilySearch actually has the right date, 9 November, for the marriage. This is because in Scotland the marriage and the the official registration are two separate events, and the registration is often a day or two later than the wedding (too busy partying to go straight to the Registry Office, I expect). The marriage date is in the first column, and here it is written in words, not numbers, for some reason, while the registration is in the more usual number format. I have no idea why." 

8. If you need an "official" copy of the marriage record for legal purposes, then you must order a copy, easily facilitated through At item 6 above, instead of clicking to view the document online, click the green box labeled "order" to add the item to your shopping cart. Once you click on the cart (upper right portion of any SP screen) you'll see this screen.

Here we are advised that once the £12 fee is paid, the "order will be forwarded to the General Register Office for Scotland for fulfillment". I've ordered things from London that took a mere 2 weeks to receive via snail mail to my home at the time in Florida. Do any of my DearREADERS have experience with the turn-around time for GRO-Scotland to respond to such a request?

Roger hit the nail on the head when he noted it takes just a few minutes and very little cost to view the scanned image of the original 1864 marriage record at The total cost to locate, view, save and print the marriage record was 5 minutes time and a little less than $4US. Contrast this with the process described in
Finding a Record Copy or a FamilySearch folly estimated as follows:
  • 5 minutes at FamilySearch to find the index entry 
  • Visit local Family History Center (FHC)
    Order microfiche "
    6035516" $4 plus state sales tax.
    30-60 minutes time
  • Wait 2-4 weeks for the microfiche to arrive at the FHC
  • Drive to the FHC, read microfiche to get the code for the Carluke parish in Lanark.
    Order "323630". $5US plus state sales tax.
    30-60 minutes time
  • Wait 2-4 weeks for the microfilm to arrive at the FHC
  • Drive to the FHC, read microfilm, move to reader/printer/scanner to make a copy of the marriage record
    30-60 minutes time
YUP! Scotland's People makes getting to the marriage record a whole lot quicker and cheaper. Thank heavens for the Internet.

Happy family tree climbing!

Myrt     :)

Your friend in genealogy.


  1. Thanks Myrt :-)

    Yes, thank heavens for the internet. I have spent more than one evening on Scotlands People website and on reviewing my eMails from them the next day realized that I bought 30 credits 3 or 4 times the previous evening as I kept running out.

    But it's still a whole lot cheaper than going to Scotland :-)

  2. The GRO policy is that they will have the document in the mail within 5 business days. You can pay double the amount and receive the documents in 24 hours. The last time I was in Scotland, I went to order a copy of my birth certificate before heading out on a sight seeing jaunt. The birth certificate arrived in Canada before I did.

  3. The postage times Christine quotes are correct for ordering an official extract (certificate) from the General Register Office for Scotland (now part of the National Records of Scotland) in person or by telephone. However, if you order it through it takes longer.

    The website states, "Online extract orders are sent electronically to the NRS. You should allow 15 working days for the NRS to process the order and then extra time for postage. Overseas orders are sent by airmail."

    I think the reason for the difference is that those ordering direct from NRS usually need a record for identify or legal purposes, but if you order through it's seen as "just" for family history, so not a priority!

  4. Myrt, just one correction to the above FHC process. Last night, our local FHC director informed us that ordering FHC films is now done at home on our computer. That would have saved you the time to drive to, order and return home from the FHC. But, as you have very clearly pointed out, ordering via Scotland's People is definitely the way to go.