Scotland - Birth - 1855-PresentEdit This Page

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Civil Registration: Birth Certificate

Civil registration is the government registration of births, marriages, and deaths beginning 1 January 1855. In these records you may find a child's name, sex, birth date and place, father's name and occupation, mother's name and maiden name, parents' marriage date and place (from 1861), and the name, residence, and relationship of a person present at the birth. Civil registration birth records cover most of the population and are indexed countrywide. Use the national index to identify and obtain a copy of a birth 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 indexed in the International Genealogical Index.

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

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.

Accessing the records

Census records and indexes are readily available both on microfilm at the Family History Library and online. 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).

Records and indexes, for 1841-1891, available at the Family History Library, 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.

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. 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. 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." 

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

Church records: Church of Scotland

Church records are the christenings or baptisms, marriages, and burials recorded in registers by church officials at the time of an event. Christening records usually give the name of the child, christening 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. Minutes of church meetings sometimes include birth information.

Accessing the records

For more information about Church of Scotland records and how to access them, click here.

Information about extant 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.

Church records: Nonconformist churches

Anyone who did not adhere to the teachings of the Established Church of Scotland was considered a nonconformist or a dissenter. Dissenters could also include people who belonged to religious organizations that broke from the Established church. Dissenter groups kept separate records. In these records you may find 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.'

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.

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.


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