Seallam Visitor Centre
introduction to SeallamLocation of SeallamEvents at SeallamCo Leis Thu?Contact details for SeallamEnquiry form


I cried when I saw our names on the family tree.

You, too, can have your own special family tree created by Co Leis Thu?



Go to - Trace your Origins online
click on image above to go to



Co Leis Thu?

Seallam! is also the home of Co Leis Thu? the Genealogy Research Centre for the Western Isles.

Bill Lawson & Norman Morrison
Consultant Genealogist: Bill Lawson FSA(Scot)ASGRA
and Research Assistant: Norman Morrison

The genealogical resource at Co Leis Thu?  is based on the research carried out over many years by
Bill and Chris Lawson, who are internationally known as authorities on genealogy on families from the
Western Isles of Scotland.
Virtually every household in the Outer Hebrides in the last 200 years has been researched, and a resource
bank of over 30,000 family tree sheets has been gathered, together with details of many families
who emigrated to Canada, USA, Australia etc.
Family tracing in the Outer Hebrides has always proved difficult, due to the scarcity and poor quality
of formal source material, but from the resource available at Co Leis Thu? it is usually possible to chart
families back to the generation born cI750-80 - and frequently much farther.
The resource of Co Leis Thu? has been donated to the Northton Heritage Trust, and is now situated in the
Seallam! Visitor Centre. The staff here will be happy to advise on the availability of material from the resource
as a professional service to genealogists and researchers -and Bill and Chris Lawson are usually available to
help with more complex research.

Sources available for research include -
Census returns 1841-1901 (1851 and 1901 now indexed)
Old Parish Registers (Church of Scotland and Roman Catholic)
Estate Papers (including Rentals )
Emigration Lists
Government Papers and other published sources
Information can also be obtained from Civil Registration of Births, Deaths and Marriages.

Oral Tradition
Written records are generally late and of variable quality in the Western Isles, but oral tradition was always
strong here and, since it is preserved in Gaelic, which is still in normal usage here, it is more comprehensive and
often much more reliable than many more formal sources in English. Oral tradition includes patronymics, song, story,
and preservation of family relationships.

Emigrant Families
Many visitors to the Islands are disappointed in tracing their families here, due to lack of information of the family
after emigration. Useful data would include the island of origin, the place of original emigrant settlement, local
census entries, family naming patterns etc. With information of this type, it is usually possible to trace the village
from which a family emigrated, and to make links with relatives remaining there.

Lectures, seminars, and slide shows are run at various advertised times, or can be
arranged to suit your requirements.

Fee Structure

The fees for research will of course depend on the amount and complexity of research required, but typical
fees (to which VAT at 20% should be added) are as follows-

Local Families


single line chart



Family tree including notes on the family history




Descendant Chart

per generation


Sibling Charts

per generation


Emigrant Families

Preliminary research

deductible from
further fees


Locating origin of emigrants

with notes on
family history


Tracing relatives, where possible



"The Complete Service"

incl. research, maps guided tour of area of origin etc.


Copy birth etc. certificates can be traced and obtained at a cost of 5, plus the cost
of certificate (generally 14 per item).
We will be happy to advise what may be available, with an exact costing.

To make an application for research please click on the on-line "enquiry form" button on the navigation
bar above or click here

NEW in 2005

Index of the 1851 and 1901 census completed for Lewis, Harris, Uists and Barra

 Part funded by Community Economic Development/Western Isles Enterprise

and Borve Lodge Estates

Indices for sale - contact

Visit the following links to get a more in-depth insight in to our Genealogy Research
 (genealogical resources, searches and publications)
 (website selling books online)

Tourism Information

         Accommodation in Harris
 (Self-catering Cottages in Scarasta)
 5 star self-catering property in Ardhasaig)
 (B&B Accommodation in An t-Ob and Car Hire)

         Coach and Travel Operators

         Currency Conversion
 (Currency Conversion)

         Genealogy Societies
 (Scottish Genealogy Society)
 (Professional Researchers) (Edinburgh based researchers)

         Links Overseas
 (Highland Village, Cape Breton)
 (Hudson Bay Archives)
 (Celebration of the emigration from Skye in 1803)
 (Gaelic, Tradition, Culture, Music from the Gaelic areas of Cape Breton in a quarterly magazine)
 (Waipu House of Memories, New Zealand Museum dedicated to the emigration from Scotland and Cape Breton of Rev Norman MacLeod and his followers)

         Tourist Information and Hebridean Sites
 (Tearoom, Crafts, Tourist Information, Currency Exchange, Petrol, Groceries, in An t-Ob)
 (South Uist information)
 (The Islands Book Trust)
 (Trips to St Kilda and other islands)

         Scottish Information
 (Information on all things Scottish)



2008 Seallam Visitor Centre, design by