Frequently Asked Questions
Q1. My ancestor died in a pit accident but is not listed on the site. Where can I find more information on this death, including the name of the pit?
The first step in researching a death is to locate the death certificate. Post-1855 death certificates are available to download on line at Scotlandspeople - please note full certificate are available only for deaths more than 50 years ago. The site is pay-per-view but the cost is very reasonable. If the death occurred in hospital, then details of the pit may not be given, but these may be included in the Register of Corrected Entries so please check if this is available. Scotlandspeople have extensive help pages to assist in your search, or you can ask for help from a Scottish genealogy forum (see our General Links).Please check our lists of deaths carefully - many are listed under the date of accident, so you may find your ancestor listed months or even years before their actual death. Wherever possible, we try to place a link between entries listed under date of death, and the date recorded in the Inspectors reports. In addition, please be aware of differences in spellings. We transcribe verbatim from the records to preserve the original information intact. You may therefore find differences between our records and the spellings used in the death certificate, or by more recent family members. Finally our transcribers are only human and therefore mistakes do appear and entries may be omitted. We will correct errors, unless the mistake is also in the original record. In such cases we may, at our discretion, add a note of the correct name, but we generally only do so in cases where the name is markedly different from the real name.
If the accident occurred after 1895 then a Fatal Accident Inquiry should have been held in the Sheriff Court. These records are held in the National Archives of Scotland. Some are indexed in their catalogues, but this is not comprehensive, so you may have to contact them to determine if they hold a record for a particular accident. Please note, not all records of fatal accident inquiries have survived.
If your ancestor was treated in hospital, then records may be held in the appropriate Health Board archive. For Glasgow area hospitals, a link is available on our General Links page.
You may get more information on your ancestors death from a newspaper report. You may be able to obtain a report by contacting the appropriate local history library direct - links to local council sites are available on this page. The death may also be reported in the Scotsman archive or other on-line newspaper archives such as the British Library collection.
Q2. Why is my ancestors death not recorded on the site?
There are a lot of mistakes and omissions in the official lists of accidents covering 1852 to 1914. Accidents in mines were very common and it is likely that many of them simply went unreported. It is always worth checking the entries for the whole year as frequently the wrong date is given. It is also possible that due to either timing or circumstances your ancestors death was not considered to be an accident at work. Outside the years 1852 to 1914, names were not recorded in published reports. We are gradually compiling lists for these years, mainly from newspaper reports and listings of fatal accident inquiries. Please bear in mind that the name listed may not represent the usual spelling your ancestor used.
It is also possible that we have your ancestor listed under a non-fatal accident. While we try to check for death certificates in cases where the newspaper report suggests that accident was fatal, this is not always possible due to the expense of locating certificates.
Q3.Where can I find employment records? What other mining records exist? One of the most commonly asked questions about mining is the location of employment records. The simplistic answer is that such records do not exist, not least due to the practice of mine owners contracting the winning of coal to contractors, who then employed the men. Even if records did originally exist, these have not been preserved.
It is always worth doing your own research in case records relevant to your ancestor have survived. However these records are not on-line so require either direct access to the relevant archives, or the employment of a researcher to undertake manual searching with no guarantee that relevant records exist. If you are not put off by this, then read on for some suggestions!
If you know the company or colliery that your ancestors work for, you may be able to find out what records survive for that company/colliery using the catalogues of the Scottish Archive Network or the National Archives of Scotland. Some of the links in Q4 below may assist in identifying the company name. For example the listing for William Dixon & Co, held at Glasgow University do list wages and day books in addition to other documents which might provide information on individuals. Records may also exist for the various mining unions including the National Union of Mineworkers and Scottish Colliery Enginekeepers and Boilersman Association.
The National Mining Museum Scotland gives information on the location of National Coal Board records. However no detail is given on the content or access arrangements, just details of the storage facility.
Q4. How can I find out which pit my ancestor worked in?
It can be difficult to definitively determine which pits ancestors worked in - in the majority of cases detailed employment records do not exist. Most miners worked close to their homes so it is worth looking at an old map (see links) to see what pits were in the area where they lived at the time. The various lists of mines which have been transcribed will also assist this process. Please remember that this can only be considered an educated guess - it is quite possible that your ancestor was actually travelling a fair distance to work and was not employed in any of the local pits.
Useful clues may be gained from the names of miners rows as these were often linked to the company who owned them. You may find useful information in our sections on Housing. However, please remember that collieries could change owners. Please also see Q3 for information on where to find company records.
Q5. Do you have any pictures of the place where my ancestor lived or worked? How can I find out more about this area as it is not listed on your site?Unfortunately we don't have access to any databases of pictures. If you're looking to locate a picture of a specific location then local libraries and archives are a good place to start. Details can usually be found on the relevant council website. Another good source of information can be SCRAN. It may also be worth contacting the Scottish Mining Museum.
The places covered on the site are determined by personal interests and which records we have access to. It is highly unlikely that we have any more information on places not currently listed. You may find more information in the gazetteers available on-line or by contacting the relevant local library/archives. Links for both these sources can be found here. We would also suggest joining the relevant local family history society. Another useful source of information are local history books - try searching Amazon for books about particular towns. Stenlake publish a number of pictorial history books which may also be a good starting point.
Q6. Please could you research a particular subject for me? I am happy to pay for any costs incurred.
All the contributors to this website are volunteers and therefore simply do not have time to conduct research. Professional researchers may be able to help. Although we cannot recommend any names, a list is available on the National Archives of Scotland website. The owners of this website accept no responsibility for the quality of the work produced by a professional researcher sourced through this list.
Q7. Can you recommend any further reading on mining?We would highly recommend "The Mineworkers" by Robert Duncan, Birlinn (2005)
Some older books which should be available in libraries:
A History of The Scottish Miners by R. Page Arnott, George Allen and Unwin (1955)
The Scottish Miners, 1874-1939 by Alan Campbell, Ashgate (2000)
Q8. Please can you publish a link to my site?
We only publish links to relevant local history sites which we find useful in our own research. We do not accept link requests from any organisation. In particular we will not consider requests for links by professional researchers, sites with paid access, or other commercial sites and will remove these from our guestbook if posted there.
General questions about the site:
Who runs this site?
The site was set up by a small group of amateurs with an interest in the lives of their mining ancestors. All the work is compiled by volunteers and is entirely self-funded.Please note this is not the website of the Scottish Mining Museum - their website can be found here.
Why have you misspelled a name/placename?
We use the original spellings given in historical documents as it is important to preserve the information as given.
My ancestors accident is covered on the wrong page.
We used parishes as a convenient way to arrange the information on the site but often miners lived in one parish and worked in another, or the parish boundaries are not clear. We do try to ensure accidents are listed under the most appropriate parish but errors do happen.
Can I republish information from this site?
All transcriptions of old reports and newspapers are the copyright of this site and cannot be republished. We do allow limited use by private individuals - please see our copyright statement for further details. We regret that we are unable to give permission for any other use of material from this site.