Scots-Irish Genealogy Websites, Books and Organizations

By James M. Beidler

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Scot-Irish genealogy is the process of tracing your American ancestors across the Atlantic to one of the nine counties of the Irish province of Ulster.

The general assumption is that everyone who came from Ulster had ancestors in Scotland. This is not entirely true. Protestants from Scotland were the majority of settlers in Ulster, but Protestants from England and France also settled there. And of course, despite the hardships they faced, many native Irish remained in Ulster, especially in Counties Donegal, Cavan, and Monaghan. Over the course of time, people changed religions and intermarried, so you may discover that your ancestors do not fit the standard story line of the Scots-Irish.

One thing that makes genealogy for the Scots-Irish different from other types is that general direction of the research flow is known: America – Ireland – Scotland. And if you ancestors did originally come from Scotland, they probably came from Ayrshire or another lowland county. While Highland settlement in Ulster was not unknown, it wasn’t common until the nineteenth century.”

Do you know where to look for your Scots-Irish ancestors? These resources might have the information you’re looking for.

Scots-Irish Websites

Belfast Newsletter newspaper index, 1737-1800

Cyndi’s List: Ireland


Genealogical Society of Ireland

Ireland Old News

Irish Genealogy Toolkit

North of Ireland Family History Society

Northern Ireland GenWeb

Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland


Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts


The Scots in Ulster

Ulster Ancestry

Ulster Gravestone Inscriptions

Scots-Irish Books

The Book of Ulster Surnames by Robert Bell (The Blackstaff Press)

Researching Scots-Irish Ancestors: The Essential Genealogical Guide to Early Modern Ulster, 1600–1800 by William J. Roulston (Ulster Historical Foundation)

The Surnames of Ireland by Edward MacLysaght (Irish Academic Press)

Surnames of Scotland: Their Origin, Meaning and History by George F. Black (New York Public Library)

Tracing Your Irish Ancestors, 3rd edition, by John Grenham (Genealogical Publishing Co.)

Tracing Your Irish Family History by Anthony Adolph (Firefly Books)

Tracing Your Northern Irish Ancestors: A Guide for Family Historians by Ian Maxwell (Pen and Sword Books)

Scots-Irish Organizations

Centre for Migration Studies
Ulster American Folk Park, 2 Mellon Road, Castletown, Omagh, Tyrone BT78 5QY, United Kingdom

General Register Office of Ireland
Convent Road, Roscommon, Ireland

General Register Office for Scotland
New Register House, 3 W. Register St., Edinburgh EH1 3YT, Scotland

Linen Hall Library
17 Donegall Square North, Belfast BT1 5GB, United Kingdom

The Methodist Church in Ireland
1 Fountainville Ave., Belfast BT9 6AN, United Kingdom

National Archives of Ireland
Bishop Street, Dublin 8, Ireland

National Library of Ireland
Kildare Street, Dublin 2, Ireland

Presbyterian Historical Society of Ireland
Church House, Fisherwick Place, Belfast BT1 6DW, United Kingdom

Public Record Office of Northern Ireland
66 Balmoral Ave., Belfast BT9 6NY, United Kingdom

Ulster Historical Foundation
49 Malone Road, Belfast BT9 6RY, United Kingdom

Ulster Scots

Of course, it’s not just a matter of knowing where to search – having a thorough understanding of the history of the Ulster Scots will help guide your research and help you create a plan of attack.

Ulster Scots "Did You Know?"

For example, did you know that for much of the eighteenth century, marriages performed by Presbyterian members were not legal? That means that a Presbyterian ancestor may not have marriage records, or that they’ll be held in a different denomination.

A version of this article appeared in the December 2010 issue of Family Tree Magazine. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to and affiliated websites.