Records of interest to family historians can be found in unexpected places. 

Researchers with experience of Central and Eastern European genealogy will know that records are often to be located outside the borders of a country, due to the complex history and shifting political map of the region. For instance, in Poland there are vital records for western Ukraine; in Germany there are records for some of the German communities of Romania; and in Austria there are army records for soldiers from the successor states of the Habsburg Empire. 

For those with a family history rooted in the British Isles, the primary source of information for the British overseas is the General Register Office’s various series of indexes to armed forces, consular and maritime birth, marriage and death registers. They cover events relating not just to English and Welsh but also to Irish, Scottish and doubtless Manx and Channel Islander individuals. These are widely available online and have recently been fully name-indexed by Find My Past.  

At New Register House in Edinburgh, the records of the births, marriages and deaths of Scots abroad are to be found among the statutory registers. These are also searchable online on the official Scotland’s People website, where they are called “minor records”. It is likely that there is some (possibly considerable?) overlap with the records held by the General Register Office of England & Wales described above. 

Less well-known and rather surprising is the fact that the Catholic Registers on the Scotland’s People website include records from beyond Scotland. An overview document detailing the holdings can be downloaded. The document begins with the expected records of Catholic missions and parishes in Scotland itself. However, on page 3 it moves on to the Bishopric of the Forces. Among the Roman Catholic registers here there are of course records from within Scotland but a great many are from beyond its borders – and not just from England, Ireland and Wales. In fact, the collection covers Catholic registers of the British Forces across the world. For instance, there are volumes from Aden, Austria, Germany, Iraq, Lebanon, Malta and Singapore. 

For those undertaking research within the region covered by Bluebird Research, the following may be of interest: 


  • Akrotiri RAF base 1956-1967
  • RAF register 1957-1969


  • Alexandria chaplaincy of the English forces 1899-1910
  • Cairo military vicariate 1896-1945
  • Cairo 1904-1955
  • Moascar camp 1925-1967

Although these Roman Catholic registers have been digitised by the Scottish authorities, the records contained within them do not just relate to Scots but, of course, to English, Irish, Welsh and all other Catholics in the British Armed Forces. At least one of the two parties will have been serving in the Forces at the time of the registration of the event. However, in the case of marriages, the other party to the marriage (usually but not invariably the bride) could be a civilian and, for that matter, a local from the vicinity of the Forces base. Likewise, of course, for births and baptisms of issue of such marriages. 

All of Scotland’s People’s Roman Catholic registers before about 1908 can be viewed online (in contrast to the General Register Office’s records, for which only the indexes are publically available). For more recent records after 1908, there is a searchable index, upon the basis of which extracts from the registers (certificates) can be purchased.