Annual seminar: Scotland’s place in family history

Saturday 28 October 2017 – Seminar Program

Military and militia – a Scottish historical perspective: Ken Nisbet (speaking live from Scotland)

Ken will discuss the available resources to carry out research on your relatives who served in the British Army of the 18th and 19th centuries. He will explain what is available online and how to interpret the information and what information is not online. Ken will also discuss the Scottish Regiments and how they fitted into the British Army and in what way they differed to English regiments. He will also look at the role of the volunteer and militia forces and what information is available on these non-regular units. 

Scotland’s people and places: What’s in a name?: Dr Jennifer Harrison

The focus of Jennifer’s presentation is directed towards forenames, surnames and place names indicating traditions, cultural identifications, origins and naming patterns, all from a Scottish perspective.  A person’s name identifies not only a particular man or woman but also their membership of a larger group – a family or a clan.  Similarly, place names distinguish a precise locality often within the borders of an even larger geographical region.  Occasionally these two elements came together when a person’s name referred specifically to a place name either of residence or birthplace.

The inexhaustible source – the Register of Deeds: Alistair Henderson

The register of the principal civil court in Scotland, the Court of Sessions, is known as The Book of Council and Sessions or The Register of Deeds. Scotland is uniquely fortunate to have available this huge resource, which details many of the important events in our ancestors’ lives – marriages, deaths, borrowings and business, children and inheritance. The record dates from the mid sixteenth century to the present day, and is an important resource for family historians seeking to flesh out the stories of their ancestors, or to overcome a blockage where other resources are lacking. This presentation will describe how to access and use this much-neglected resource for Scottish family history.

Scotland and Ulster – a shared inheritance: Cathie Sherwood

Who were the Scots who left Scotland in the early 1600s and travelled across the Irish Sea to Ulster? Why did they leave and what impact did this mass migration have on both Ireland and Scotland? Cathie will discuss the migration of Scots from before and after the time of the Ulster Plantation and endeavour to dispel the myths that these Scots were both Protestant and wealthy landowners.

Preparing for your family research trip: strategies and pitfalls: Pauleen Cass

How do you prepare for your journey to ancestral homelands in Scotland (or other places)? How do you maximise the benefits of your time “on the ground”? Come with Pauleen as she prepares for a research trip to Scotland, shares the strategies that have worked for her and warns you of the pitfalls. This will be a fly-over of libraries, archives and strategies in advance of your trip and to help you once you arrive.

Using Scotland’s People web site: Bob McAllister

Scotland’s People has the unfortunate reputation for being difficult to use, expensive or both. This is now unwarranted. In its latest incarnation, the site makes it easy to identify the correct certificate through free searching and then to purchase it in digital form for significantly less than a corresponding Queensland record. And it stores all your purchases for later (no-cost) re-use.

About the presenters


Ken Nisbet

Ken Nisbet has been a keen family and military historian for over 40 years. He is Secretary of the Scottish Genealogy Society and of the Scottish Association of Family History Societies and is on the User Group for the Family History Centre in Edinburgh. He is a regular lecturer to Scotland’s Family History Societies. He has written a number of books all of which are published by the Scottish Genealogy Society and tutors some of the classes the society runs.




Jennifer Harrison

For 22 years Jennifer Harrison was the Queensland researcher for the Australian Dictionary of Biography with the Australian National University and for even longer with the School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry at The University of Queensland.  One of her main research interests has been nineteenth century immigration to Queensland including the 13% who originated in Scotland.  She had a Scottish grandfather and has researched this line and other family connections both in Australian sources and during many long visits to Scotland.




Alistair Henderson

Alistair Henderson of Fordell is one of only six full Scottish Clan Chiefs to reside in Australia, and travels frequently to Scotland, the US and Canada for family and Clan events. Most recently, he led his Clan onto the Esplanade as part of the Edinburgh Military Tattoo in August this year. His day job is a professional engineer, consulting in the field of air pollution control, which also takes him out of Brisbane on a regular basis. Alistair has been a member of GSQ since 1988, and has served as a Committee member, President, Secretary and Treasurer of the Scottish Interest Group, and presenter at many seminars on Scottish research. His current interest is a Glaswegian grandson.




Cathie Sherwood

Passionate about history and addicted to family history, Cathie has an Ulster great-grandfather, described by her mother as a ‘north of Ireland Scotchman’. On her father’s side, she has a Scottish grandfather who was born in India, educated in Scotland, emigrated to Australia and married the daughter of an Irish immigrant, a genealogy scenario shared by many Australians.


Pauleen Cass

Pauleen Cass has been researching her family history since 1986. She has searched for family history documents in archives and libraries in Australia and overseas, and “walked the ground” in her families’ homelands. When Pauleen stands on the shores of Loch Fyne in Argyll she feels the call of her ancestors.




Bob McAllister

Like most Australians, Bob traces his family lineage from across a broad sweep of Europe. His family name reflects his roots in Ulster, but Bob likes to claim a special link to his great great grandfather, John Cameron, who was a Glasgow spirit salesman. Although the appreciation of a fine single malt is no doubt embedded in his genes, he was introduced to the nectar by someone from his Welsh-German line reflecting our cross-cultural influences. The origin of his wife’s interest in piping is a complete mystery.