Researching in Scotland

Birth, marriage and death certificates started in Scotland in 1855 so it is easy to trace any of your family back to 1855. The certificates are held in three places:

– The place where the event happened (Local Registrar)
– Scottish Registrar in Edinburgh (New Register House)
– By the person(s) concerned

Birth Certificates:
A birth certificate tells you the date and place the child’s parents got married (so you can get straight back to a marriage certificate).

Marriage Certificates:
These tell you the names of the bride and groom’s parents (including their mothers’ maiden names). The certificates also tell you the age of the bride and groom so you can figure out their year of birth.

Death Certificates:
These tell you the age of the deceased (so you can calculate year of birth) also the names of the deceased’s parents. (If you are lucky enough to find a great grandparent who died in 1855 and who had lived into his/her nineties, it is possible to know your ancestry right back to about 1750! You have the names of the parents and they were probably about 20-30 when the child was born).

Census Reports:
Every 10 years since 1841 (except 1941) the country has taken a census of everyone living. If you know where your ancestors were living in 1841, 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881 and 1891 you can look at these censuses and see all the family living at one address, what they worked at, how old they were etc.

Old Parish Registers:
If you want to trace ancestors before 1855 you have to consult old parish registers as the Ministers and Sessions Clerks of the Church were responsible then for noting all births and marriages. There is an index for the whole of Scotland plus microfilms of the Registers themselves for Grampian Region at the Family History Society, 164 King Street, Aberdeen AB2 3BD. Tel: 0224 646323. They also have a lot of English, Welsh and Irish records; books about the Scots overseas etc.