Genealogical Services

The genealogical resource at Co Leis Thu? is based on the research carried out over many years by Bill and Chris Lawson, who are internationally known as authorities on genealogy on families from the Western Isles of Scotland.

Virtually every household in the Outer Hebrides in the last 200 years has been researched, and a resource bank of over 30,000 family tree sheets has been gathered, together with details of many families who emigrated to Canada, USA, Australia etc.

Family tracing in the Outer Hebrides has always proved difficult, due to the scarcity and poor quality of formal source material, but from the resource available at Co Leis Thu? it is usually possible to chart families back to the generation born cI750-80 – and frequently much farther.

The resource of Co Leis Thu? has been donated to the Northton Heritage Trust, and is now situated in the Seallam! Visitor Centre. The staff here will be happy to advise on the availability of material from the resource as a professional service to genealogists and researchers -and Bill and Chris Lawson are usually available to help with more complex research.


Sources available for research include:

  • Census returns 1841-1901 (1851 and 1901 now indexed)
  • Old Parish Registers (Church of Scotland and Roman Catholic)
  • Estate Papers (including Rentals )
  • Emigration Lists
  • Government Papers and other published sources
  • Information can also be obtained from Civil Registration of Births, Deaths and Marriages.

Oral Tradition

Written records are generally late and of variable quality in the Western Isles, but oral tradition was always strong here and, since it is preserved in Gaelic, which is still in normal usage here, it is more comprehensive and often much more reliable than many more formal sources in English. Oral tradition includes patronymics, song, story, and preservation of family relationships.

Emigrant Families

Many visitors to the Islands are disappointed in tracing their families here, due to lack of information of the family after emigration. Useful data would include the island of origin, the place of original emigrant settlement, local census entries, family naming patterns etc. With information of this type, it is usually possible to trace the village from which a family emigrated, and to make links with relatives remaining there.

Lectures, seminars, and slide shows are run at various advertised times, or can be arranged to suit your requirements.

Fee Structure

The fees for research will of course depend on the amount and complexity of research required, but typical fees are as follows-

Local Families

Standard Family tree including notes on the family history £120
Descendant Chart per generation £20

Emigrant Families

Preliminary research deductible from further fees £40
Locating origin of emigrants with notes on family history £80
Tracing relatives, where possible extra £20