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Perthshire is an inland and a most extensive county, nearly in the centre of Scotland, bounded on the north and north-west by Inverness-shire, on the east by the county of Forfar, on the south-east by the counties of Fife and Kinross, on the south by the Firth of Forth and the counties of Stirling and Clackmannan, on the west by Argyllshire, and on the south-west by the county of Dumbarton. It is about 77 miles in length and 68 miles in extreme breadth, comprising an area of 5000 square miles or 3,200,000 acres.
For centuries the city of Perth was the residence of the Scottish kings until the reign of James III (1460-1488), and the abbey of Scone, from a very early period to a comparatively recent date, continued to be the place of their coronation. It was anciently divided into nine districts, all of which were stewartries under the jurisdiction of the great landholders to whom they gave title, but which, since the abolition of heritable jurisdictions, have ceased to be under any peculiar authority.
The county comprised 69 parishes, besides parts of other parishes. Two sub-sheriffs reside respectively at Perth and Dunblane. For civil purposes, the county is divided into nine districts. Perth is the county town and a royal burgh, along with Culross. There are eleven other populous towns or villages, several of which are burghs of barony, and other places.
The surface of the county is remarkably varied. It comprehends a highland and a lowland district, the former to the north and north-west, contituting a considerable portion of the Grampian range, and the latter, which is the more extensive, lying to the south and south-east. There are many high peaks, rivers, and lakes, as well as valleys and wide, fertile plains. There are extensive forests. Deep lakes abound in salmon, trout, pike, and other fish. In the lowlands grain of every description is raised in luxuriant crops, with potatoes, turnips, beans, peas, and other crops. Flax is cultivated, and fruit of all kinds is abundant and of good quality. Sheep, cattle, horses, and hogs are raised.
The minerals are chiefly coal, limestone, and ironstone. Coal is wrought for local use. Peat is used for fuel in the Highlands. Marble is quarried on the lands of the Duke of Atholl near Glen-Tilt. Slate is also quarried, and also a fine grey freeston on the banks of the river Tay. The Grampian hills consist chiefly of granite. The principal manufactures are those of linen and cotton. There are also paper mills, flax spinning mills, tanneries, breweries, distilleries, and other works. There are excellent roads and navigable rivers, and several rail-lines.
The population of the county in 1851 was 137,390.
(Source: Samuel Lewis' Topographical Dictionary of Scotland, 2nd ed., 1851. FHL book 941 E5L.)
Here is a list of historic parishes in the county of Perth with their parish numbers. Click on a parish name to see information about records.
The Red Book of Perthshire: Author: Gordon A. MacGregor: Collection of documentation on all families who helpd lands in Perthshire.
A census is a count and description of the population, taken by the government, arranged by locality and by household. In 1841, the British government began taking censuses of the population of Scotland every ten years, listing all persons by name. The census records must be 100 years old before they are released to the public, so the 1841 through 1901 are currently available. Read more about Scotland Census Records.
Most available census records have been indexed by surname. Indexes are online at these Web sites:
- http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk (includes images; accessed for a nominal fee)
- http://www.freecen.org.uk (very incomplete for Perthshire, but growing; free)
Many indexes have been published by societies. Here are some published census indexes for Perthshire which are available at the Family History Library (FHL) in Salt Lake City, at record repositories in Perthshire, and elsewhere.
|Year||FHL Call Number|
|1851||book 941.32 X22p (over 50 vols.; whole county, arranged by parish/parish number)|
|1881||fiche 6086646 (set of 6; whole county, by surname)|
The library also has a collection of census surname indexes for different places within Perthshire. Click here to see a table listing these other census surname indexes that are available at the library.
Civil Registration Records
Government or civil registration of births, marriages, and deaths (also called statutory records) began on January 1, 1855 in Scotland. Annual indexes are available for the whole country. See the article on Scotland Civil Registration for more information and to access the records.
Most of the county of Perth is in the Sheriff's court of Perth (SC49). The Registers of Deeds for Sheriffs' courts contain much valuable information for family history research such as marriage contracts and deeds of 'disposal and settlement' (or assignment) of property, which both give names and relationships. The Registers of Deeds of Perth are the earliest in Scotland, surviving from 1570.
The marriage contracts found in the Perth Registers of Deeds for 1687-1809 were extracted, indexed, and published in 1978 by eminant genealogist Gerald Hamilton-Edwards. The index is available at various repositories in Perth, at the National Archives in Edinburgh, and at the Family History Library (FHL book 941.32 P28sc).
Probate records are those which deal with the settlement of the estate of a deceased person. In Scotland, until 1868, a person could only pass movable property such as household furniture, farm equipment, livestock, money and clothes through a document known as a 'testament. Immovable property such as land was passed to the eldest son or heir through a document known as a 'Service of Heir,' which is not a record of probate. Read more about Scotland Probate Records.
Until 1823, the parishes in roughly the north half of Perthshire were under the probate jurisdiction of the Commissary Court of Dunkeld (CC7). The parishes in much of the south half of the county were under the jurisdiction of the Commissary Court of Dunblane (CC6). Two dozen parishes in the eastern portion of the county were under the jurisdiction of the Commissary Court of St, Andrews (CC20). Since 1823, most of the county has been under the jurisdiction of the Sheriff's Court of Perth (SC49) while parishes in the southwest have been under the Sheriff's Court of Dunblane (SC44). For a breakdown by parish, see the parish pages in the Wiki.
Probate records for 1513-1901 (including inventories of goods) are indexed online at www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk. You must register on the website but use of the index to probate records, called 'Wills & Testaments,' is free. You may then purchase a copy of the document or, if the document is before 1823, it will be on microfilm at the Family History Library. To find the microfilm numbers, search in thelibrary catalog for the 'Place' of Perth (county) and the subject of 'Probate records.' Then click on the link to the records of the appropriate Commissariat court.
The library also has some post-1823 probate records for Perthshire. Look for then in the same way in the library catalog.
MapsClick on the map at the right to see a larger version, and click again on the larger map. Next, click on the ‘Expand’ button when it appears in the lower right-hand corner of the map.
Click here to see an outline map of the parishes of Perthshire.
- 1885 County Maps: Perthshire Eastern Section | Perthshire Western Section: Courtesy of London Ancestor
- Perthshire Resources and help pages on RootsChat Perthshire Resources and help pages. (Free).
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- This page was last modified on 11 March 2014, at 10:47.
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