Scottish Surname

Tracing a Scottish surname may take you back in time to the very foundation of the United States. In 1684, Presbyterians from Scotland founded a settlement in South Carolina.  Many Scottish immigrants of the seventeenth century were seeking religious freedom; the Covenanters were struggling against having to follow an established religion instead of their own consciences.

In the eighteenth century, a series of failed rebellions against English rule forced many Scots to leave their homeland.  The risings of 1715, 1719, and 1745 led to harsh repressive measures, and liberty-loving Scots fled rather than knuckle under.  After Bonnie Prince Charlie was defeated at Culloden in 1745, the ancient clan system was broken, and the wearing of clan tartans was outlawed.

Throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, many of the new immigrants to the United States bore a Scottish surname.  Many had been forced from the land by the infamous Highland Clearances.

Entire families crossed the Atlantic on overcrowded ships.  The ships came to the great Atlantic ports: Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and New York. Between 1880 and 1930, 2.3 million British people arrived at immigration ports; after 1892, they came through Ellis Island.

Your Scottish surname is likely to be traceable through a variety of historical documents.  Ships' passenger manifests, also referred to as ship registers, may list profession, birthplace, age, and marital status as well as name and destination.  Church records give dates of baptism, marriage, and burial.  Census records list residence, profession, age, and often more.

A Scottish surname may lead you back to a poet, a soldier, a farmer, but it will surely lead you to a family with strength and courage enough to start fresh in a new world.  Discover your Scottish surname on, the original Internet family tree.  You can rapidly add new branches to your tree.

Ancestor Search

Enter Ancestor's Last Name:
Advanced Search
See what information we have in our database of over 190 million unique entries. Browse Alphabetically
  • Photos
  • Biographies
  • Histories
  • Country Origin
  • Alternate Spellings
  • Number of Generations
“...One person can't possibly do all of the work alone. They need help to speed up the work...The only way to do this is with your wonderful service...”
—Jeff Bagley
More Success Stories

Watch Demo

Use the buttons below to navigate through all four demos.

Previous Restart Next

Demo: Introduction

Learn More