Scottish Culture/My family


My Grandfather was born in Pennsylvania 1898?
My Great Grandfather and Mother Came from Scotland to Canada.
My Grand father was Albert.
I have tried for so many years to find out my history I am the last direct female family from my Grandfather all the McLeod men had boys.
I sure do hope you can find out who his parents were and where the McLeods were located and then I can get some history.

Thank You so very much,

Dear Judi

As you will see from my biographic information, I am not a genealogist, and I do not conduct genealogical searches.

However, from what you have said,  you will need more information that that you have provided, to trace anyone.

There are good online references once you get the family line traced back to Scotland, such as, which contains birth, marriage and death records, plus census records. You can also find information from shipping lists.

There will also be online resources, I would imagine, for Canada and Pennsylvania.

This all rests on a few things - having the person's full name and more importantly, where they lived or came from: for example, you will need more than Pennsylvania, you'll need a town or settlement's name. McLeod is a fairly common name, and in the past, the clan was associated with Hebridean islands, primarily Skye, but that does not mean that you great grandfather were automatically from there. You will need your great grandmother's unmarried name too.

I think your starting place would probably be birth and death records - which will be held in Canada and the USA. You can get the full names of parents, places and dates from these. It can be disconcerting looking at recent records, especially if you knew the person, but you have to start with the most recent information you can get.

Birth and death records contain information which can help you trace people back generation by generation. Please, though, never, assume a link and take 'a leap of faith', always work backwards.

If you have any old documents, or you have  relatives you can ask, try to gather as much information as possible - but keep in mind that families can contain 'family myths', if you will - one of my friends was tracing her family, and found that although the family believed that they were from the island of  Barra in the Hebrides, once she went back far enough, it looked as if the family was from Perthshire and the family name had been changed. So gather information, but keep an open mind, and always work backwards.

I hope this helps you


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Kaye McAlpine


Lifecycle (birth, marriage, death) customs in Scotland, Early Modern Scottish social customs, modern Scottish social customs, Border March laws and procedures, criminal processes and judicial execution practices, social history in Early Modern Scotland, ephemera printing in Scotland. While I have some knowledge of the clan system and function of the clan society (Highland and Lowland), I am not a an expert in clan genealogy. Having traced back my own family over a couple of centuries, and traced others due to academic research, I do know how the system works, however. This doesn't mean that I'm a genealogist. Please note that I do not speak Gaelic.


Research Fellow (University of Edinburgh). Contributer to various books and journals on ballads, including Scottish Life and Society: A Compendium of Scottish Ethnology, The Ballad and History and The Harris Repertoire. Freelance tutor in outreach courses from Edinburgh University on Scottish Culture and Tradition, including lifecycle customs, broadsheet ballads in Scotland, the traditional ballad and history. Freelance writer, guest presenter on Ch4 History Hunters programme, contributor to BBC Radio Scotland's 'Songlines' series on 'The Dowie Dens of Yarrow'. Currently co-director of a media production company

Books: Forthcoming: The Gallows and The Stake Published: Compendium of Scottish Ethnology, vol. 10, chapter on The Traditional and the Border Ballad; The Harris Repertoire (2000, Scottish Text Society, co-editor), The Ballad in History (chapter on Border ballads). Journals include Folklore, The Review of Scottish Culture,Sottish Studies, and The Scottish Literary Journal

Ph D, M. Phil, BA (hons)

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