It is relatively plain sailing to trace Scottish ancestors because the records contain very detailed information and it was usual to identify the mother by her maiden surname.
This is a new Scottish genealogy portal which points you to what is available in the way of 'free-to-view' online births & baptisms, marriages, deaths & burials, census records, ship passenger lists, county & parish maps, gazeteers and photographs etc., as well as discussion forums on Scottish genealogy. One interesting link is to a list of people who were married or died in Victoria, who gave their birthplace as Lanark(shire).
This is the official government source of genealogical data held at the General Register Office of Scotland. There is a free search of the index to Wills & Testaments 1513-1901 for which you must register. You will immediately receive by email a security token and password which will enable you to login to access the free search. It would be a good idea to get some practice here with Soundex and Spelling Variants before you decide to become a paying customer.
As well as comprehensive background information, FAQs and sample images there is an occupations glossary containing over 1500 definitions and variants so the opportunity is there for lots of useful browsing.
There is also a free surname search of all records which will show the number of instances of that surname in each of 13 categories. This is a rough guide of what may be found but beyond that you must 'pay-to-view' records of Births & Baptisms and Marriages & Proclamation of Banns from Old Parish Registers 1553-1854. Deaths & Burials for this period are not yet indexed. From 1855 when civil registration began there are Births to 1905, Marriages to 1930 and Deaths to 1955. You can also view digital images of census records every ten years from 1841 to 1901, except for 1881 which are transcriptions.
Scottish Archives Network (SCAN)
Between 1852 and 1857 the Highlands and Islands Emigration Society assisted almost 5000 individuals to leave western Scotland for Australia.
These emigrants can be found in the searchable database which can be
browsed by any of these fields - Family Number, Surname, Residence, Parish, County, Departure Date Order, Port of Departure Order, Port of Arrival Order and Name of Ship.
There is often useful information about family groups in the 'Remarks' which contain fascinating comments to delight genealogists. Here are just a few examples:
"£36.5.0 Very poor & destitute family, but a very suitable one for Australia."
"£26.3.2 A very interesting old couple. They have 2 sons + a daughter on their way to Victoria + will be accompanied by a widow with 4 children. The old woman walked 8 miles to Broadford and returned in the evening."
"Promissory Note £43.17.1 Hale strong man of his age. Very fine family of children."
"Received no aid, rather too many children but as McLean is married to a sister of Hugh McPhail and John McDiarmid to the wife's sister, it was approved that the whole family might proceed together."
"£5.9.3 1/2 Son-in-law of Donald McKinnon. A very useful intelligent man."
"£13.10.9 Man appears to have suffered much for want of food. Lived in a gravel pit covered in with heather for 18 months."
FreeCEN Scotland Free Census Project
Free-to-view online searchable database which is constantly growing. It is worth a look to check on the progress of the project for each county.
GENUKI - Scotland
Comprehensive directory of resources for genealogists.
Family Search Library Catalog
Do a place search in the Latter Day Saints (LDS) library catalog for what is in the International Genealogical Index (IGI). If you find a six figure batch number, search the IGI by putting a 'C' in front of it for christenings or an 'M' for marriages. Of course this isn't just for Scotland. Try it for any place of interest.
RootsWeb Message Boards Scotland
Here are message boards for the Scottish counties, each with thousands of messages. You could find people who will do free lookups for you.
Jennifer Burrell: email@example.com