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One of the most difficult challenges facing genealogists is establishing where and when their immigrant ancestors arrived from Scotland. This is particularly true for the 17th and 18th centuries, periods for which records are far from complete. If the vessel the immigrant sailed on can be identified, however, then the ports of departure and arrival may also follow, and in turn this may indicate the locality from which the immigrant originated, thus narrowing the search. At the very least, the information provided in these records may be the very clue needed to lead you back to a time and place in which to anchor your research.
Like the three earlier volumes in this series, the fourth and concluding volume is designed to identify ships plying their trade with North America between 1628 and 1828. While most early voyages between Scotland and North America were trading voyages, the majority of American-bound cargo ships carried a small complement of passengers. Some of these passengers are named in newspaper accounts and in other sources found in the archives in Scotland, England, the United States, and Canada that author David Dobson consulted for this book. In particular, Volume IV is based records found in the Acts of the Privy Council Colonial series (London), the Canadian Courant, Greenock Advertiser, Montreal Gazette, Register of the Privy Council of Scotland, Virginia Gazette, and a dozen other sources. Typically, these sources identify each vessel by name, its captain(s), the dates it sailed, and ports of origin and destination, and sometimes references to the number of passengers onboard, miscellaneous information, and the source of each entry. It should be noted that, as with Volume III, the concluding book in the series contains a number of vessels bound from Scotland to the West Indies, as well as a number of ships that arrived in Scotland from the colonies—presumably on the return voyage. Researchers will also benefit from Dr. Dobson’s Introduction summarizing the Scottish shipping trade and the concluding chronological list of sailings spanning the period under investigation.