Scotland - Birth - 1841-1854Edit This Page

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The record categories below are arranged in the order most likely to help you find a birth in this time period.

Contents

Church records: Church of Scotland

The Church of Scotland was the 'state' or 'established' church in Scotland from 1690 onward. It was Presbyterian in form. Individual church units are called parishes. Parish church records fall into two primary categories: parish registers and Kirk session records (see below).

Parish registers contain the baptisms, marriages, and burials recorded by church officials at the time of an event. Baptism records usually give the name of the child, baptism date, names of parents (including the mother's maiden name), place of residence, and father's occupation. Sometimes the child's birth date and the names of witnesses are recorded.

Click here to read more about Church Records.

Indexes: You should begin by looking for your ancestor in an index. All of the extant baptism records and marriage records have been indexed. Read about Indexes in the article on Church Records. Click on the link above.

Accessing the records

For more information about Church of Scotland records and how to access them, read the article on Church Records. Click on the link above.

You can also search the Wiki for a particular parish's information and records page. In the search field above and to the left, type in the name of the parish and click on Search. From the list of possible page titles, select the one for the parish.

Why go to the next record

If you do not find your ancestor in the records of the Established Church of Scotland, it may be because:

  • Your ancestors were members but were not baptized or were not recorded in the records.
  • Names of your ancestors were misread or misspelled when copied from the film. Try spelling variations.
  • The records for the time period you need are missing or lost.
  • Your ancestors did not belong to the Church of Scotland---they were 'nonconformists.'
  • There were too many possibilities to choose from.  You need to find a record that will tell you where your ancestor was born.


Census Records

A census is a count and description of the population. Government census records were taken every ten years starting in 1841. The 1841 through 1901 censuses are currently available. They are especially valuable because they list the majority of the population and are available at many repositories. In these records you may find names of the members of a household, and each person's age, gender, marital status, relationship to the head of the household, occupation, address, and place of birth. Census records can provide clues that may lead you to other records.

Look for your ancestor in as many census as you can and compare information.

Accessing the records

Microfilmed copies of the 1841-1891 census records, and some indexes, are available in the collection of the Family History Library and are listed in the library's catalog.  Do a Place search for your parish of interest and the topics of 'Census' and 'Census-Indexes.' Indexes may also be found under the county name rather than the parish name.

Information about census records for a particular parish can be found in the Wiki on that parish's information page. In the search field above and to the left, type in the name of the parish and click on Search.

Online indexes are available through several websites including these:

ScotlandsPeople (complete 1841-1901 indexes and images; per use fee-based website)
Ancestry.co.uk (1841-1901 indexes only; annual membership fee-based website)
Censusfinder (free; starting in alphabetical order by county, the list is short but growing)
FreeCEN Scotland (free; almost every county has some years and some parishes indexed).

 

Nonconformists: Church records

If you do not find your ancestor in an index to the records of the Established Church of Scotland, it may be because he/she was a 'nonconformist.'  Anyone who did not adhere to the teachings of the Established Church of Scotland was considered a 'nonconformist.'  For our purposes we will divide nonconformists into two basic categories: seceders and dissenters.

  • Seceders were people who left the established Church of Scotland and formed other presbyteries. These include those known as the United Presbyterian Church and the Free Church of Scotland.
  • Dissenters were people who belonged to religious organizations other than Presbyterian. These include Baptists, Methodists, Episcopalians, Catholics, etc.

To read more about nonconformists, go to the article on the Scotland Church Records Union List.

Nonconformist groups may have kept records of members. These can include baptisms, marriages, minutes of meetings, communion rolls, and other records of value.

Accessing the records

Not many nonconformist church records are available on microfilm and therefore are not in the collection of the Family History Library. Those records that are will be listed in the library's catalog under the town or parish of interest and the topic of 'Church records.' Some of the few records available at the library are included in the various indexes to church records. Read about them in the article on Church Records.

Information about nonconformist church records for a particular parish can be found in the Wiki on that parish's information page. In the search field above and to the left, type in the name of the parish and click on Search.

Most nonconformist church records are held in the collection of the National Archives of Scotland or other repositories in Scotland. Other repositories can include regional archives, denominational archives, or individual churches. Contact information for other archives may be found in the directory of the Scottish Archives Network.

Civil Registration: Marriage certificate

Civil registration is the government registration of births, marriages, and deaths beginning 1 January 1855. In these records you may find the names of the bride and groom; their ages (which you can use to determine a year of birth), marriage date and place, marital status, residences, occupations, fathers' names and occupations, and mothers' names and maiden names; whether they were married according to the forms of the Church of Scotland or another church; and the names of witnesses. This information may help you find the record of a birth that occurred before 1855.

Civil registration marriage records cover most of the population and are indexed countrywide. Use the general index to identify and obtain a copy of a marriage certificate.

Accessing the records

The general indexes, and the records for the first twenty years, are available on film at the Family History Library. They are listed in the Family History Library Catalog under the place of Scotland and the topic of Civil Registration. The correct record title is "Registers of births, marriages, and deaths, 1855-1875, 1881, 1891; and general index, 1855-1956." Most of the records of marriages for 1855-1875 are indexed in the International Genealogical Index.

Indexes and images of records are also available on the ScotlandsPeople web site (per-use fee-based).

Civil Registration: Death certificate

Civil registration is the government registration of births, marriages, and deaths beginning 1 January 1855. In these records you may find the name of the deceased; his or her cause of death, death date and place, rank or profession, marital status, sex, age (from which you can estimate a year of birth), spouse's name, father's name and rank or profession, and mother's name and maiden name; and the signature, relationship, and residence of the informant. This information my help you find the record of a birth before 1855.

Civil registration death records cover most of the population and are indexed countrywide. Use the general index to identify and obtain a copy of a death certificate.

Accessing the records

The general indexes, and the records for the first twenty years, are available on film at the Family History Library. They are listed in the Family History Library Catalog under the place of Scotland and the topic of Civil Registration. The correct record title is "Registers of births, marriages, and deaths, 1855-1875, 1881, 1891; and general index, 1855-1956." Most of the records of births for 1855-1875 are also indexed in the International Genealogical Index.

Indexes and images of records are also available on the ScotlandsPeople web site (per-use fee-based).

Kirk Session: Church records

The Kirk session is the lowest ecclesiastical court of the Presbyterian Church, held on the parish level. It consists of the minister and elected elders of the parish. Kirk session records deal with the business and organization of the parish and discipline of members. They may include lists of communicants, accounts of money paid to the poor, testimonials of persons moving from one parish to another, and details about illegitimate births and alleged fathers. Christening and marriage information is sometimes included.

Accessing the records

Most Kirk session records have not been microfilmed and therefore are not in the collection of the Family History Library. Those few that are will be found in the library's catalog under the town or parish of interest and the topic of 'Church records.' Most Kirk session records are held in the collection of the National Archives of Scotland and are classed with the reference number of CH2.

Information about extant Kirk session records for a particular parish can be found in the Wiki on that parish's information page. In the search field above and to the left, type in the name of the parish and click on Search.


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