The Shetland Family History Society is here to help you research your Shetland ancestors and put you in touch with living relatives. We are all volunteers, and a small number, so please be patient.

We have many resources at our premises and welcome members to come and research there. We are steadily adding items from our collection to the Members’ Area of our website. Members can ask for help from our Research Team.

Shetland is politically part of Scotland, so church records, census records etc follow that pattern. Shetland was probably the last part of Britain to develop fixed surnames, the patronymic naming system being used until about 1800 in many parts Under this system there were no fixed surnames so the last name would change with each generation so Robert the son of James Hughson would be called Robert Jamieson etc. Parish registers and census records are unlikely to recognize this. A map showing the position of Shetland parishes is here. Click on the name of the parish to see a short description and details of what early records survive.

There are many places online to look for records of Shetlanders. There are many Shetland records on the subscription websites, though the transcriptions and indexing can be of varying quality as they were made by people with no knowledge of Shetland. Where it is possible do not rely on these but try to look at an original image.

Our database is not online. To research our database, members can visit our office or contact us by email.


The following are a selection of organisations that you might find useful, many with original documents (or the indexes to them):

Shetland FHS Member’s Area


An internet portal of the National Records of Scotland where you can purchase images of the Statutory Registers, Parochial Registers, Census Returns and much more.

National Records of Scotland:

The main site for the remaining extant records for Scotland.

Shetland Archives catalogue:

The archives hold an extensive collection of original Shetland Documents click on the link for their index.

Scottish Record Society publications:

An eclectic mix of published material relating to Scottish History with a good selection of Shetland Material.

Scottish Indexes:

As its name implies this is a commercial site which indexes many different types of records such as Asylum admissions.

National Archives (London):

The National Archives in London holds records which relate to all areas of the United Kingdom and Shetland People can often be found in their collections.

National Maritime Museum in Greenwich:

The National Maritime museum holds a large collection of records in which Shetland People can be found.

A searchable database of family trees from around the world.