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The Great Historic Families of Scotland by James Taylor. 2nd ed. 1889, reprinted 1995 by Genealogical Publishing Company, 1001 N. Calvert St., Baltimore MD 21202. 2 volumes in 1, xii, 410 + iv, 431 pp. Indices. Hardcover. $55 plus $3.50 p&h.

This book presents information on 49 of the great Scottish families. The details they contain can be fascinating with stories of war, murder, assassinations, cruelty, rivalry, debt, bankruptcy and riches. This is the material for great historical novels, but reality is often stranger than fiction. The stories retell many facets of Scottish and English history and the parts these families played in it.

The information given often goes back to the times of legend and folklore, but brings these famous families up to the middle of the nineteenth century. The details given on the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth century descendants can be quite extensive. If your ancestors lived on the estate of one of these great landowners you should read that landowner's story, as it probably influenced your ancestor's story.

The indexes are not in the usual alphabetical everyname format. Rather they are organized by the historic family concerned and only consist of the main characters. If you are seeking information on the Marquis of Chandos, you would have to know that he was married to the daughter of Lord Breadalbane. You could then find Lord Breadalbane in the chapter on the Campbells of Breadalbane and thus find the Marquis. You will not find him anywhere in the index. There are two indexes in this volume, the first at the end of volume one in the middle of the book, plus an index at the end of volume two at the back of the book. You will need to check both indexes but their limitations need to be recognized.

[Editor: A fully searchable, every-word index for this book can be found online at]

Reviewed by Paul Milner
BIGWILL v.5 no.1, 1998