Researching Scottish Place Names

Researching Scottish Place Names contains links to resources that can help you decipher even the murkiest written Scottish place names.

Recently, I wrote about Transcribing Scottish Baptism Records, where I discovered not all baptisms took place in churches. Let’s see what else this 1785 record baptismal record for George Ross can tell us.

Researching Scottish Place NamesThe Baptism Record

The Scottish place name of George Ross’s birth was unclear to me when I was transcribing his baptism record. Henderson (middle box, above) at first glance? As genealogists are taught, I looked at the rest of the record for similar capital letters. I then decided the word probably begins with F because it is like the F in Fisher (top box) and in McFinlay (bottom box).

Scottish Place Name Resources

Because I know the county (Ross-shire, now Ross and Cromarty) and the parish (Tain) from finding this record at ScotlandsPeople, I can now visit ScotlandsPlaces for help deciphering the Scottish place name of his birth. There are only a few place names beginning with F in that parish and Fendom was clearly the answer I needed.

Researching Scottish Place Names

The Results

There are 23,231 place names documented in this county in ScotlandsPlaces, so knowing the parish saved me a lot of searching. When you’re using ScotlandsPeople, be sure to click through to see the original record that’s available for each place name for free.

In volume 29, page 51 of the Ordnance Survey book, I found Fendom: “This name applies to an extensive agricultural district extending from the River Tain due east to the village of Inver, a distance of about 6 miles. It lies immediately south of and parallel to Morrichmore. On the south it is bounded by a ridge or terrace which is supposed to have been at some remote period the south coast of the Dornoch Firth.”

When you’re citing records like this, write down the Ordnance Survey number – in this case, OS1/28/29/51.

Researching Scottish Place Names

Fendom Listed in Tain Parish, Ross-shire Ordnance Survey book

Additional Help

For more information and resources for your Scottish research, try my ebook Finding Scottish Ancestors Online.

Finding Scottish Ancestors Online

Finding Scottish Ancestors Online

About the Author:

Nancy Loe has an MA in American History and an MLS in Library Science and Archives. She has appeared on PBS’s American Experience, at Rootstech, SCGS Jamboree, and state and regional genealogy conferences. Her website was featured in Family Tree Magazine's “Social Media Mavericks: 40 to Follow.”


  1. Rebecca J Walbecq 9 January 2018 at 8:01 PM - Reply

    Very helpful. Thank you!

    • Nancy Loe 10 January 2018 at 9:25 AM - Reply

      Good luck on your search for your Scots, Rebecca.

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