Books by Chris Paton

Priced £7.95, published by Family History Partnership, from February 26th 2010

"Author Chris Paton... lives and breathes the advice here, with his enthusiasm apparent in the animated tone. At under £8 this is excellent value... A friendly and informative guide for beginners" - Your Family Tree, May 2010 (issue 90)

Tracing Your Family History on the Internet, by Chris Paton (Pen and Sword Ltd, £12.99, March 2011) 

About Chris Paton BA (Hons), HND, Pg.Dip. Genealogical Studies

A former television producer and director on BBC history programmes, I now work as a professional Scottish based genealogist, writer, lecturer and tutor. With my wife and two young sons I reside in the picturesque Ayrshire town of Largs, on the Western Scottish coast.

Previous media career 

After graduating from the University of Ulster in 1991 (HND Design & Communication) and the University of the West of England in 1994 (BA Hons Time Based Media), I spent twelve years working as a documentary maker for both the British Broadcasting Corporation and Scottish Television, primarily working on historical series such as Secret History, Meet the Ancestors, Coast, and the aerial archaeology series Time Flyers. My television career saw me filming in a variety of locations across the world, from Italy to California, capturing the experiences of many diverse groups and individuals. I left the BBC after asking for voluntary redundancy in February 2006, in order to pursue a career in genealogical research.  

I have weirdly found myself on the other side of the lens a few times since leaving. In January 2008 I was interviewed with regard to my genealogical research on the BBC 1's Reporting Scotland news programme, as well as on Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland. The story is online at Boys Remains to be Released. I have also contributed research to BBC Radio Scotland's Digging Up Your Roots family history series in 2007, and was featured in a programme within the series broadcast in January 2008, concerning an axe murder in my family that I have researched. In November 2008 I was again featured on Reporting Scotland and Good Morning Scotland, with regards to research I have been doing on the Ruhleben POW camp in WW1 Germany, where 5500 civilians were interned (see German War Camp Remembered). In March 2010 I was featured in the last edition of BBC Radio Scotland's Past Lives series, retelling the story of my grandfather's childhood in occupied Brussels in the First World War. In April 2011 I was again interviewed for Reporting Scotland and Good Morning Scotland in the ScotlandsPeople Centre in Edinburgh for a piece concerning the release of the 1911 Scottish census (see Scottish 1911 Census details revealed after 100 years).


Having left the BBC, I initially studied for a Postgraduate Certificate in Genealogical Studies at the University of Strathclyde to further my passion for family history research, with which I have been engaged and fascinated by for over a decade. Amongst my studies I completed a dissertation on the role of the handloom weaving community of Perth from 1770 to 1845, creating a database employing seldom seen privately held documents on the Weavers Incorporation, which I have continued to develop since finishing the course. After the certificate I studied for the Postgraduate Diploma in the same subject, with the final year dissertation this time concerning the role of the King James VI Hospital in Perth as a 19th Century feudal superior. 

In addition to running the Scotland's Greatest Story family history research service, I also write regularly for most of the British family history press. The Books and Articles page contains details of my contributions to date. I also contribute daily to the Scottish GENES (GEnealogy News and EventS) blog, described by Simon Fowler, former editor of Ancestors magazine as 'an excellent genealogical blog'.


I am a tutor with online family history and genealogy course provider Pharos Teaching & Tutoring Limited, teaching the Scottish Research Online and Scotland 1750-1850: Beyond the OPRs courses.  The five week long courses, which cost £45.99 each, provide detailed introductions to the key online databases, offline resources and key research methodologies used in Scottish family history research today. For more information please visit


I am a regular features and news writer for the UK's leading family history publications Your Family Tree, Family Tree magazine, Family History Monthly, Discover my Past England and Discover My Past Scotland, as well as Irish Roots from my native island of Ireland, and previously also had monthly columns in both the National Archives' Ancestors and ABM Publishing's Practical Family History magazines, before they ceased publication. I am also a frequent contributor to many newspapers and magazines such as The Scotsman, The Sunday Herald, Cothrom, True Crime, Scottish Memories, and others. The Writing page on this site lists the majority of the articles I have so far contributed.

I have written Researching Scottish Family History for the Family History Partnership, published February 2010, Tracing Your Family History on the Internet for Pen and Sword, published March 24th 2011 and Discover Scottish Church Records, published June 2011 by Unlock the Past in Australia. I am currently working on another for The History Press on the Mount Stewart Murder of 1866, concerning the story of my three times great grandmother, the UK's longest unsolved murder case (for publication spring 2012).


I am a regular speaker at family history societies and rotary clubs across Scotland, on a range of topics from Scottish land records and DNA, to Irish genealogical resources online and First World War Civilian Prisoners of War in Germany. I have also spoken internationally in both Australia and Canada, including a four city tour of Australia in October 2010 (Perth, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane) and a two venue event in Toronto in June 2011, where I gave five talks over two days. In November and December I will be the Scottish speaker on the Unlock the Past Scottish/Irish themed genealogical cruise of New Zealand and Australia, and at venues in both countries.

Brisbane, Queensland, October 2010