Catholic archives online
Details of French royal post revolution refugees and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's family tree have been made available online for the first time, First Minister Alex Salmond announced today.
Hundreds of volumes of births and baptisms from the Scottish Catholic Archives have been added to the ScotlandsPeople website.
The documents reveal that Conan Doyle, who never used his baptismal middle name, Ignatius, was born and brought up Catholic at Picardy Place in Edinburgh, though he later renounced religion.
Scotland was home to economic migrants in the early 19th century, when hundreds of skilled craftsmen from France, Spain and Italy arrived to work on building Edinburgh and other cities. The archives show that in the period after the revolution in France, the French royal family were refugees in Scotland and were put up in Holyrood Palace.
The records date from 1703 to 1908 and cover Catholic congregations across Scotland and in the armed forces and throw important light on the development of Catholic communities in areas such as Barra and South Uist.
The two year project adds an extra 143,000 pages and two million new names to the 65 million already on the database.
First Minister Alex Salmond said:
"In the year of Homecoming, I am delighted that these archives are now online for the first time.
"This treasure trove of information will give Scots and Homecomers an understanding of our shared history as well as an exciting opportunity to trace their family background.
"The interesting insights into the life of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and the French royal refugees are only some of the stories to be discovered using this valuable resource.
"Ancestral tourists spend £64 million annually in Scotland and tend to stay longer than other visitors. One of the key five themes of Homecoming is 'culture and heritage' and the availability of the Scottish Catholic Archives will attract some of Scotland's 40 million diaspora back 'home' to explore their heritage."
Cardinal Keith O'Brien said:
"This is an extremely exiting project which will be of immense interest to professional and amateur genealogists for many years to come. Online access allows researchers anywhere in the world to glimpse the fascinating detail of the lives of past generations."
George MacKenzie, Keeper of the Records of Scotland, said:
"We're delighted to be adding two million names to the ScotlandsPeople databases in partnership with the Scottish Catholic Archives. These registers contain unique information about Scots Catholics who lived between 1703 and 1908, and extend the resources for family history research on the internet. We expect a lot of interest in this new service from people with Scots ancestry right across the world."
ScotlandsPeople is a partnership between the National Archives of Scotland, the General Register Office for Scotland and the Court of the Lord Lyon. It provides access to digital images of key Scottish family history resources, including over 60 million birth, marriage and death records, wills, testaments, census records and Coats of Arms.
The Scottish Catholic registers is available from 6 October at www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk and later at the ScotlandsPeople Centre at Register House, Edinburgh.