What's going on with the Scottish regional categories?

+8 votes
Recently I noticed that the Scottish regional categories are really inconsistent. Some of them have been created following the same pattern as England, Canada, the US, etc. ie. [[Category:City, Council Area]] where a council area is Scotland's version of an English county, Canadian province, or US state. Others have been created in the pattern [[Category:City, Scotland]].

Not only are they not consistent right now, but it seems they're being moved towards the latter format, which is not consistent with other countries. Today an edit was made to a profile I manage, moving it from Category:Old Kilpatrick, West Dunbartonshire, to Category:Old Kilpatrick, Scotland.

I would argue that this is not the direction these categories should be moving. We already have a fair few countries all following very similar naming practices, which do not include the country name in the category. I see no reason for the Scottish categories not to follow the same standard.

Please chime in if you've been working on the Scottish categories at all! Thanks!
asked in Policy and Style by Lianne Lavoie G2G6 Pilot (417k points)
I do not work on the Scottish catagories at this time but with scottish background I might in the future so I feel as you that we should have a consistant standard for them.
I've stayed away from categorizing Scottish places because they are a nightmare. Every so often the boundaries change with new "county" names  - you need a score card to keep track. Is it Sutherland, Sutherland-shire or do we go by the council area of Highland?

Depending on the outcome of the vote this week some names and areas are sure to change again.
I know the feeling, Eugene. I haven't worked on the Scottish categories because I'm not familiar with Scottish geography and it didn't seem at a glance to be as straightforward as the other countries I've worked on.
I tend to organize within county within country in my genealogy programs. That most naturally translates to parish/land/city/or estate, County, Country categories in WikiTree.  One challenge I have is locations in Scotland in the 1500's, 1600's, and 1700s.  Most records I come across tend to talk about lands and estates (Porterfield, Duchall, Annandale, Gallan, Calderwood, Houstoun, Ryburn, Laidlaw, and dozens more)  but some talk about parishes (Paisley, for example). My research tends to be focused in Renfrewshire and Ayrshire. I have not done much with regional categories yet, but my intentation would to simply place any "named" area under county it is located in. Any thoughts on this approach?  I would also only place cities/lands/estates under the specifc county as the Scotland category would become overloaded over time..Would ancestral Scottish lands/estates be worthy of their own categorization scheme?  Seems like not a good idea as these can  be covered under regioanl categories   

I created a created a space page for the Duchall estate (before I heard of Regional Categories) at http://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Space:Duchall_Estate. It seems that should be a catgeory instead. Thoughts?

Equally challenging is the problem is present day names vs. historical names, but that could be whole differnet threed. At least in the case of Renfrewshire it seems the name and the area it covers has largely remained the same. Ayrshire is a bit more problematic as it has been split.

2 Answers

+3 votes
Hi Lianne,

Can you post a link(s) to the errors please or are you refering to http://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Category:Scotland ?

Regarding Old Kilpatrick it is in West Dumbartonshire, so should be categorised as Old Kilpatrick, West Dumbartonshire, Scotland.

If it's the category page http://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Category:Scotland I can takle a look at it later & sort it out if you like?

All the best

answered by Billy Wallace G2G6 Pilot (209k points)
Yes, I'm referring to the subcategories of Category:Scotland.

If West Dunbartonshire is a type of division that is roughly parallel to English counties, eg. West Yorkshire, then a desire for consistency would lead us to name the category for Old Kilpatrick [[Category:Old Kilpatrick, West Dunbartonshire]]. But someone else created [[Category:Old Kilpatrick, Scotland]]. This has happened a lot in the Scottish categories, where two different naming standards are being used, so we really ought to pick one and run with it.

We need a protocol to somehow handle these name changes for example: the present council area "Highland" is geographically huge and is comprised of the following older areas of Caithness, Sutherland, Ross and Cromarty, Skye and Locash, Inverness, Lochaber, Badenoch and Strathspey, and Nairn. If you id something as Assynt, Highland I don't think that helps me very much but if you id it as Assynt, Sutherland then that tells me a lot more.

For someone not from Scotland I would suggest using the pre-1975 county names but that is just personal preference. Also, where appropriate, should "shire" be included or not?

Hi Eugene,

I would have no plans to bring in council areas/regions/administrative areas into the categorization for Scotland, as that would just confuse the issue and they don't form part of the county structure as council areas straddle county boundaries. Also the county names all end in shire in Scotland, with a couple of exceptions.

Also if we just stick to the pre 1975 that adds some confusion as well as some of the counties before 1975 were known by two names.

It may well take a note to indicate that there were different names at different times for the counties/shires/County Lieutenancy areas/heritable jurisdictions (which became counties after the Heritable Jurisdictions Act 1747) and so on.

All the best


Sorry for the misunderstanding - just displaying my ignorance. I thought the council areas replaced the counties - I'm glad that is not the case! Also I saw where some maps don't use shire so I thought that it was dropped. Thanks for clearing that up! 

So up to the 1800s I had ancestors from Kilmory on Rum. I would typically write it as: Kilmory, Isle of Rum, Argyllshire, Scotland Would this be the correct format? or is it just Isle of Rum, Argyllshire dropping "Kilmory" and "Scotland" or something else?

Now it is the parish of North West Locharber I think

On a related note I'm sending you either congratulations or condolences with regard to yesterdays vote - which ever you would like to accept.

Hi Eugene,

Keep the Kilmory in.

Did you know that the spelling of rum was changed to Rhum as the Laird at that time didn't want to be known as the Laird of Rum with its connotations wink

Another daft fact is the postcode for Rum is PH which puts in Perth and Kinross (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PH_postcode_area#Coverage), just shows you how confusing things could get with all the different ways they can categorise districts and areas.
All the best


Yes, I knew about Rum & Rhum but I prefer the old spelling, lol. Other ancestors lived on nearby Muck and the laird changed the name to Monks because he didn't want to be known as the Laird of Muck. One of my relatives has Isle of Monks on his gravestone which has caused some confusion over the years with some relatives claiming he came from Iona.
+6 votes
Not been involved with Scottish Regional Categories up till now.  I do think however we need to work with our WikiTreers to move personal profiles out of "Category Scotland " and into either their clan page or one location page.   Seems to be a tendency to put as many place categories as possilble on some personal profiles.  This may have the potential of causing overloading in the "higher" categories in the future.   Should we be encouraging/directing  folk to only put one location category on a personal profile and this should be the most "local"  available.
answered by Maria Maxwell G2G6 Pilot (136k points)
You're quite right, Maria. At this point, we can't seem to agree on what the more specific categories should be called, but once we've got that sorted, profiles in Category:Scotland should be moved to those. A country is way too broad a category to have individual people in it.
Hi Lianne & everyone else,

It should be Town/Village, County, Country for the categorization, considering how many Scottish place names are in other countries as well. However Eugene is correct that there have been a number of changes in the counties names over the years, for example they recently disbanded the "9  local Government regions" like Strathclyde, etc in 1973. Prior to the 9 regions creation it was counties and after the 9 regions being disbanded it reverted back to county names.

All the best

Just a thought: I always use parish, then county. If it's a town/city with more than the one parish, then the "city" name goes after "parish". As most of my Scottish research was done using parish records, it seemed the most sensible way. Should I be changing my system?
Thanks Marie, interesting.   Can you let us see an example of one or two of the Categories you are using which include a parish name.   Personally I see these location categories as almost a postal address.   I totally agree the format Billy has suggested.   I see however that we now have quite a few with village,Scotland.  (some with multiple such categories on the one profile.)   Again I would suggest one location category per personal profile be encouraged.
Hi all,

Parishes are good for finding information from, but usually the person has to know which Parish to look in to get it. They can also help in a large city, like Glasgow for separating people with similar names and dates of birth when looking for their certificates, as can the district subdivisions.

However it has to be noted that parishes can and do straddle county borders, which can confuse some people and lead them to ignoring a correct birth certificate because it was in the wrong parish, when actually it was the correct certificate in the correct parish for that part of the town or village and they weren't aware that the parish straddled two counties.

If I may use an example of Glasgow: it was initially one parish (the burgh of Glasgow), in 1597 the outlying districts of Glasgow became the Barony Parish & after that the burgh of Glasgow was split into four parishes, then the Barony parish was subdivided into eight parishes and so on until the present day.

For general searches using Scotlandspeople as an example when doing a general search, not in the OPR section, after the person's name it looks for County/City next  and then the district subdivision of the County/City as a refining factor. Quite often you don't have to choose the parish as the record shows under the county /city section, unless you're searching in the OPR section.

Now most people either know or have a clue as to the city or county for the person they are looking for, but they don't know the parish, or due to the time period the Parish isn't relevant, the exception being the Catholic records where they have missions and parishes.

I think the addition of parishes on profiles is ok, but it would/could overcomplicate the categorization of places such as Old Kilpatrick, the example used earlier in the thread.

I hope this helps and doesn't confuse the issue.
All the best

You asked for a couple examples of my Scottish Profiles: Gillie-47  &  Ferrier-256

Actually when I looked at these Profiles, I realized the parish & county were the ONLY location info I had for these people. So what, do you suggest that I should use? And where would the alternative data be found?

Hi Marie,

I had a quick look at the two profiles you listed and here is what I recognised for them.

Longformacus is the village name & the parish name, which is not uncommon in small places.
Berwickshire is the county
Scotland is the country
Fettercairn village is located northwest of Laurencekirk in Aberdeenshire and does not apply to this record.
Fettercairn Parish is located in Kincardinshire county which is boundaried by Angus & Aberdeenshire counties.
She definately appears in the OPR birth/baptiism records on 1st Jan 1801 in the County of Kincardinshire & in the parish of Fettercairn, I'm not sure what village/town she was born in, I'll try to double check it for you, as Fettercairn is a village & parish name.
It's also unusual to see a record dated on the 1st January in Scotland as normally that is a holiday and registrations don't normally take place on that date but are recorded after the event and back dated. I'll need to view the record to double check the village/town to make sure.
All the best
The following URL has a map of the parishes in that area for you to see, http://www.scotlandsfamily.com/parish-map-aberdeen.htm

Information on Fettercairn Parish at


All the best

Thanks, Billy. I should have mentioned that most of my Scottish research was done before the advent of internet sources using microfilm reels from the LDS. With the help of county maps showing all the parishes, I worked my way back & forth across the county checking for my family names - it took years!!

All my Scots  ancestors emigrated by 1871.
Hi Marie,

My pleasure, if you need any help with Scottish records either just ask in G2g or message me.

All the best


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