NOTE:   These articles are contributed to our newsletter by individuals and do not necessarily represent branch advice and/or policy.





Notes taken from lecture by H. Bray – August 2003


Scottish research is great as their records are probably the best available.  Do your New Zealand research first, that is know the basics, obtain BDM certificates etc, to narrow your search to the county and if large cities, a street address or area.


Before looking for people, you need to gain an idea of the history of Scotland, and of the parish or village and county your ancestor came from. Aim to understand industries etc, and how people were living - these things affected people’s lives and give clues to why, when, where etc.  An excellent resource to use is the Statistical Accounts of Scotland . In early times, the church ruled and a mini census of parishes was carried out - the first 1791-99 and again in 1845.  Use both accounts.  To use site, select general index, choose year of census, click on the first letter of parish, and then click on name of parish.


You need a good map, both old and modern (prior to 1974 for counties).  A good site for maps of different time periods is  Look at a topographic map, one done about 1845 lists farms (including name of farms, churches, houses, hills etc).  Try Beehive Books (Jan Gow), PO Box 25-025, St Heliers, Auckland 1130, Ph 0800 233 4483, Fax 09 521 1518, or http:/ – ask for catalogue.


Use directories – NZSG has a huge collection - use the Society Library which has an excellent lending service. You can go on line and check holdings.  Dunedin Branch has a few directories and there are a few on the net.


Key points of Scottish research are

1.       Women retain maiden names (After leaving Scotland, the first generation of women retained their maiden name (through 1840’s to 1860’s), but by the 1880’s most were no longer used).

2.       Mc and Mac are totally interchangeable, there is no clear definition.  You should also look for the name without the Mc, eg Donald instead of Mc Donald.  (Old indexes often left out the suffix or prefix.)

3.       There are distinct differences between Highland (followed the clan system) and

          Lowland (more English).

4.       There was huge movement of people between England and Scotland, and Scotland

          and Ireland and even beyond.  Look outside Scotland for major events.

5.       A unique aspect of Scottish research is the Scottish naming pattern:


1st son named after

2nd son

3rd son

1st daughter

2nd daughter

3rd daughter

father’s father

mother’s father


mother’s mother

father’s mother



          Remember that names were often reused (in the event of child dying).  Children were often named after important people or in relation to events.  It is important to be aware of variations of names, eg Sarah/Sally, Helen/Ellen etc.  Use a good baby naming book and check the variations of names.  This naming pattern, while not always strictly adhered to, can be a clue to names of grandparents etc.


          Be aware of patronymics particularly in the Highlands (and in Wales).  For example

          Peter Davidson, his son Donald Peterson, his son Richard Donaldson etc. 

          This applies to Mc and Mac also, not just ‘son’.  Patronymics only applied to the

          sons, the daughters retained their father’s surname.


1855 – Key Date of Civil Registration in Scotland.   After 1855 look for births, deaths and marriage certificates using indexes.  


Before this date, information will be found in church records, and will be in the form of baptism, marriage banns and burials.  Baptism was usually within the first six weeks after birth, however effects of taxes altered this for a while.  The church was the welfare system and it was quite common for a child to be baptised in both parishes nearby, giving more security in the event of hardships. There were a lot of adult baptisms which was in relation to requirements for marrying in a parish where one was not baptised.


Marriage banns were required to be read on three consecutive occasions.  This would not necessarily be weekly as church was held other days of the week and with more than one service on Sundays.  Christmas Day (holiday) was a common day for marriage as was July (annual bath).  Marriage banns were called in both the couple’s parishes, his first, hers next.  In the home parish (that in which one was baptised) banns were called also.  Often people would state they didn’t know where baptised and were then baptised as an adult in the parish to be married.  A couple was required to live in a parish for six months prior to marriage.  Sometimes a couple would ‘jump the broom’, live together in the parish for six months and then marry.


Burial date would indicate approximate date of death as rarely more than two or three days after death, often same day or buried day after.


Where to Find People – The IGI does not have everything.  For example,

Presbyterian records         

IGI site has 75%     

Scotland People site has 80%

Free Church                                     


Scot. Record office        70%



with Church                  60%

Episcopalian (Anglican)        


with Church                  75%





If using LDS site – – advise not to ask for exact spelling.  The ‘Ancestral File’ contains many errors (input from people).  Don’t hit ‘all resources’ – you’ll be swamped. Click on ‘IGI’ then on initial of name.  When you’ve found someone, double click the name you have brought up - this gives the film number – always go to the original record (order the film).  Remember the IGI only lists baptisms and marriages, so order and read the whole film to get burial records and often other families.  Recommend running through the film first when reading to acquaint yourself with handwriting, then go back and read it.

(Aug 2003)


NOTE:   These articles are contributed to our newsletter by individuals and do not necessarily represent branch advice and/or policy.






NOTES from Meeting held 18 March 2003

What They Hold - Personnel Archives hold ONLY the individual service files of discharged New Zealand servicemen and women from the Boer War (1899) to current time for all three services - Navy, Army and Air Force.

What They Don't Hold - They do not hold a photographic collection, merchant navy or early militia files or any other military archive material.  For notes on where to find these see further on.

To Request a File - You need to fill in the request form (the branch have some). Give as much information as you can, especially if a common name involved.  Requests for WW2 onwards must be accompanied with some form of notification of death. This does not necessarily need to be a death certificate, could be death notice, funeral service sheet, even a photo of grave. If the person is living and not yourself, you must seek written permission from that person, or family member or a power of attorney if the individual is unable to consent.

If requesting your own service file, or one individual’s file within a twelve month period, there is no charge. Second or more requests within the twelve month period are $28 per file. Payment by cheque only. The twelve month period is from 1 July to 30 June.

What You Receive - You will get a Guide to Reading Military Records with the photocopied file, which should help at least to decipher some commonly used abbreviated military forms. If there is a note regarding a purged file, note this will have been done prior - they no longer purge files. No confidential material will be included. No medical records are copied (unless over 100 years old). No court martial records - these are at National Archives as are Unit War Diaries. Common to all are attestation file with signature, medical form, discharge certificate, probably list of medals, physical description etc. Did not need to produce birth certificate to enlist often so ages given can be suspect.


Boer War Files - 1899-1902 provide the least information but are worth getting.  Don't forget that New Zealanders also served in Australian, South African and British forces at this time.

World War I Files - These hold the most and varied information. There is no Nominal Index at NZHQ Archives, but St John Branch CD is useful although there are gaps. Those enlisted from England are not recorded at NZHQ Archives. Home Guard records are gone, although some have survived so it is still worth a try - you might be lucky. Contained in WWI files is attestation forms (a lot of variations in questions asked), history sheets, casualty forms, NZEF posting form. These files are difficult to copy (use of scrap paper, pasting over existing pages etc.) but NZHQ Archives do all they can without damaging file.

World War II Files - Note that Archives receive no notification of death, so include something with request (see above). Navy records are not as clear, with not as much information but worth a look. NZHQ Defence Force Library has a list to convert ship number to name of ship (may also be in some libraries).  Army records are not as detailed as WWI. Record of Memorial Cross given to women next of kin of those who died in action may be useful and look for gratuity payments. If service personnel died in service, the next of kin received £200, application may be on file.


RNZAF Files - Note that prior to 1937, air force served under British Royal Air Force, so only NZHQ Archives records after that time. If died on duty, biography was sent to next of kin and will be held on files.

Much genealogy information and understanding of day to day life in service can be gleaned from all personnel files. They are a good place to start and can lead to other sources. Don't forget sources such as newspapers. Not only local but the Auckland Weekly and Weekly News published articles and when someone died. For WWI try the NZ Sports and Drama Review. The RSA are on line now (see below) and publish The Review. Anyone who has died over the past three years is biographied. Look for personal and background information in museums both locally near place of enlistment, where unit was and at major military museums. Often individual diaries are deposited locally. Nominal Rolls are at Archives New Zealand. Look for published histories.


Some web addresses: Commonwealth War Grave Comm.                      (has Boer War database) RSA


Medals - All queries to Staff Officer of Medals at NZHQ Defence Force. Prior to WWII, all medals were issued automatically. After that servicemen, required to apply for issue, some never uplifting them in protest. Where not issued during their lifetime, next of kin may claim by application in writing showing close family connection.  Replacement medals are issued only to person to whom originally awarded. To identify uniform and badges, try NZ Defence Force Library, Stout Street, Wellington (Private Bag; Wellington).


Early Militia - Try Family History Centre (LDS) Library, Have British War Office on microfilm - need regiment. Look for books by Shirley Kendall. Chelsea Pensioners at National Archives - T Series 9. "Discharged in NZ” book and microfiche. “In Search of a Forlorn Hope” by John M Kitzmiller. NZ Gazettes, newspapers. NZ Wars - medals, National Archives, AD-Series 32 also ARM-Series 41.


Photographs - Try National Archives - ask for photos for Groups in Theatres of War - need name of unit.

If you wish to publish from personnel files write for permission to the Supervisor, NZHQ Archives.



NZ Defence Force,

Personnel Archives,

Private Bag 905,

Upper Hutt,

New Zealand


NZ Defence Force Library,

(Stout Street),

NZHQ Private Bag,


New Zealand.


Army Museum,

PO Box 45,


New Zealand.


Commonwealth War Graves Commission,

Ministry for Culture and Heritage,

PO Box 5364,


New Zealand


(Mar 2003)

POST SCRIPT:   Archives New Zealand now holds all the existing army personnel service records for the period 1899-1920.  These can be searched for online by name in ARCHWAY         (November 2006)

NOTE:   These articles are contributed to our newsletter by individuals and do not necessarily represent branch advice and/or policy.



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