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I recently started using Scotland's People, and the first article I am looking at is here and I find it completely illegible, perhaps due to scanning.

Can anyone help me to read the information in the top entry for the marriage of Alexander Barclay Ormond?

  • 3
    That really is an exceptionally bad image. I'd be tempted to contact them via the contact form on the site and ask to get it re-scanned! Nov 21, 2017 at 16:25
  • 3
    They've always been very gracious about sending improved versions when I've contacted them, so I wouldn't hesitate to do so.
    – Jonny Perl
    Nov 21, 2017 at 22:50
  • 3
    I think the older scans were poorer quality. The more recently scanned ones are much clearer. As others have noted they will normally respond pretty quickly to a request for a (free) rescan.
    – neil
    Nov 21, 2017 at 23:11
  • 1
    Thanks @JohnnyPerl I've sent a request over, though I think I'm getting used to reading these poorer records and have almost decoded it now
    – Charlie
    Nov 22, 2017 at 0:11
  • 1
    @sempaiscuba yes they sent me an email with it on. They seem very reasonable about these kinds of things and solved it fairly quickly
    – Charlie
    Dec 4, 2017 at 1:15

1 Answer 1


This is probably going to take a bit of work. In general, it's best to start by trying to identify letter and word shapes according to what you know, and what you expect to be there, then move onto the unknowns.

So you know you must have "Alexander Barclay Ormerod" somewhere, and that's actually fairly clear at the top of the second column. Other parts may be common - the lower part in the first column, I think, reads "After Banns according to the forms of the Church of Scotland", which appears to be standard wording in Scottish marriages.

In small steps like that, you can build a small "dictionary" of words using the bits you can be confident of, and that should help identify unknown sections by matching or eliminating likely words.

And don't ignore the other records on that page (and in that set, if available). Anything written by the same hand could help clarify the records you have, so look around for similar patterns. For example, "Dundee" in the "At" field of the rightmost column is much clearer in the lower record than in the upper one, but it is surely the same word in both.

Also look at better-defined scans of Scottish marriage records of the same era, if you can find them, to identify some more common text segments.

Try to decipher what you can like this, and then come back if there are any specific parts you still have trouble with.

  • Also see this answer to a related question, and the links therein.
    – AndyW
    Nov 21, 2017 at 17:06

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