Shetland (or Zetland), Scotland Genealogy
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|Local Research Resources|
Guide to Shetland (or Zetland) ancestry, family history and genealogy: birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, parish registers, and military records.
The Shetland or Zetland islands are a maritime county in the northern extremity of Scotland, bounded on the north by the North Sea, on the east by the German Ocean, on the west by the Atlantic Ocean, and on the south by the waters that separate it from the Orkney Islands. They extend for about 70 miles from north to south and 54 miles from east to west, comprising an area of about 855 square miles or 547,200 acres.
At the time of the Roman occupation, northern Scotland, including Shetland, was occupied by the Picts who had them until about the year 876, when the forces of the King of Norway took the isles. They remained under Norwegian rule until 1472 following the marriage of James IIIof Scotland to Princess Margaret of Norway. When her father, Kristian I, could not pay her dowry, Norway forfeited both the Shetlands and the Orkneys to Scotland.
The Shetlands comprise a cluster of 90 islands, of which 25 are inhabited, and the remainder are used principally for pasture. There are twelve parishes. Shetland and Orkney are joined into one sheriff's district with a sub-sheriff over each. The only town is Lerwick, which is a royal burgh of barony, and there is the village of Scalloway and some small hamlets on the coasts.
The population in 1851 was 30,558.
(Source: Samuel Lewis' Topographical Dictionary of Scotland, 2nd ed., 1851. Family History Library book 941 E5L.)
ScotlandsPeople is one of the largest online sources of original genealogical information. If you are researching UK genealogy, your Scottish ancestry or building your Scottish family tree, they have more than 100 million records to look through.
The comprehensive choice of Scottish records includes:
For more detail on exact record availability, see Availability. For examples of the records available, see Record Types and Examples. More information on the site, its contents, and instructions for using it can be found in the ScotlandsPeople Wiki article. Indexes may be searched for free, and there is a small pay per view fee to see the actual digitized record.
Many census records have been indexed by surname. Some indexes cover one parish (and will be listed in the Wiki on the parish page) and some indexes are for the county as a whole. The Family History Library has county-wide census placename indexes for Shetland (or Zetland) for 1881. Click here here for other census indexes available at the library.
- ScotlandsPeople, index, images, free index, pay per view ($)
- Scotland Census, 1841, no images. Also at MyHeritage, index, ($). Also at FindMyPast, index, ($). Also at Ancestry.com, index, ($).
- Scotland Census, 1851, no images. Also at MyHeritage, index, ($). Also at FindMyPast, index, ($). Also at Ancestry.com, index, ($).
- Scotland Census, 1861, no images. Also at MyHeritage, index, ($). Also at FindMyPast, index, ($). Also at Ancestry.com, index, ($).
- Scotland Census, 1871, no images. Also at FindMyPast, index, ($). Also at Ancestry.com, index, ($).
- Scotland Census, 1881, no images. Also at FindMyPast, index, ($). Also at Ancestry.com, index, ($).
- Scotland Census, 1891, no images. Also at FindMyPast, index, ($). Also at Ancestry.com, index, ($).
- Scotland Census, 1901, index and images, ($). Also at FindMyPast, index, ($). Also at Ancestry.com, index, ($).
- Scotland Census, 1911, index and images, ($).
- 1658 - 1919 - Scotland Church Records and Kirk Session Records, 1658-1919 at FamilySearch — index
Civil Registration or Statutory Registers
For details on information found in statutory registers and other methods of searching them, see Scotland Statutory Registers - Vital Records.
Some of the Shetland Islands parish records are indexed in Shetland Island, Scotland, Extracted Parish Records.
- This database is a collection of historical parish registers from the county of Shetland Island in the country of Scotland. The records in this collection can range in date from the early 1500s to the mid- to late-1800s. The records include baptisms/christenings, burials, marriages, tombstone inscriptions, obituaries, tax lists, wills, and other miscellaneous types of records. Also included are some records from non-conformist churches. You will find interesting phonetic spelling. Some of the records may be in Latin or even a Welsh or Scottish dialect. Due to the nature of the records and because the records were originally compiled by a third party, it is difficult to absolutely verify the completeness and validity of the data.
Here is a list of historic parishes for the county of Shetland (or Zetland) with their parish numbers. Click on a parish name to see information about records. Many of the names are of islands which form part of a parish. Click on this link for an outline map of the parishes of Shetland.
|Aithsting -- see Sandsting||9||Northmavine||8|
|Bressay||1||Papa Stour -- see Walls||12|
|Burra -- see Bressay||1||Quarff -- see Bressay||1|
|Cunningsburgh -- see Dunrossness||3||Sandness -- see Walls||12|
|Delting||2||Sandsting & Aithsting||9|
|Dunrossness||3||Sandwick -- see Dunrossness||3|
|Fair Isle -- see Dunrossness||3||Skerries -- see Nesting||7|
|Fetlar||4||South Yell -- see Mid Yell||6|
|Foula -- see Walls||12||Tingwall||10|
|Lunnasting -- see Nesting||7||Walls||12|
|Mid & South Yell||6||Weesdale -- see Tingwall||10|
|Nesting||7||Whalsay -- see Nesting||7|
|North Yell -- see Fetlar||4||Whiteness -- see Tingwall||10|
- See Shetland Scotland/ UnionsScotland/.
Archives and Libraries
The catalog of the Shetland Archives is available online. Note: This is the catalog of the holdings; the materials are not online.
Shetland Family History Society
ZE1 0EJ UK
15 Victoria Terrace
Phone-0131 220 3677
- Shetland Resources and help pages on RootsChat Shetland Resources and help pages. (Free).
- Family History