Scottish Records

From the Family Tree Forum Reference Library

Where will I find the records

General Register Office for Scotland

HM New Register House


EH1 3YT, Scotland

Houses births, marriages and deaths for the whole of Scotland. See GROS for more information.

Local Registrars

Hold local area records and may have computerised access to indexes and images for whole of Scotland.


Indexes and images of Scottish births (1855-1906) and marriages (1855-1931) and death records (1855-1956) can be viewed on the ScotlandsPeople website.

Scottish Parish Registers

Births before 1855

The level of record keeping varied and some records contain little detail. You could find the name of the child, whether legitimate or not, date of birth and/or date of baptism, father's name, mother's name and maiden surname, place or parish of residence, occupation of the father and names (and sometimes occupations) of witnesses. On the other hand, you may find that the mother's name is not recorded, the sex of the child may not be recorded, or the name of the child may be ambiguous.

Births after 1855

© Crown copyright. Data supplied by General Register Office for Scotland

From 1855, registration became compulsory regardless of religious denomination and followed a standard format. When the system began, there was more detail required and records from 1855 give details about the child (date, place and time of birth, full name, sex), the parents' names (including maiden surname of mother), father's occupation, name of informant and relationship to child. An 1855 birth certificate also contains information on siblings, the ages and birthplaces of both parents, their usual residence and the date and place of their marriage. However, following 1855, the detail about siblings and the additional information about the parents was removed. The place and date of the parent's marriage was reinstated in 1861.

Marriages before 1855

© Crown copyright. Data supplied by General Register Office for Scotland

The amount of information recorded in OPR banns & marriages records can be variable and most entries contain very little detail. You may find the date(s) of the proclamation of intended marriage and/or date of marriage, names of bride and groom and their parish of residence, sometimes the occupation of the groom and occasionally the name of the bride's father. Otherwise, as in the example, you may only find the names of the bride and groom recorded.

Marriages after 1855

© Crown copyright. Data supplied by General Register Office for Scotland

Scottish Marriage Banns

The interim act of the general assembly of The Church Of Scotland. The proclamation of banns came into operation on Friday 9th August 1879.

Its chief provisions are:-

1. That a residence of 15 clear days in a parish shall qualify for proclamation. Instead of 6 weeks as formerly.

2. That proclamation of banns shall, in ordinary cases be on two separate Sabbaths.

3. That it shall be in the power if the minister but in no case obligatory on him, to complete the proclamation of banns on a single sabbath in the case of persons who are well known to him and where there is no lawful impediment to the proposed marriage - in which case however the certificate shall not be issued till 48 hours after proclamation


4. That the fee for proclamation of banns and certificate shall in no case exceed two shillings and sixpence

Deaths after 1855

© Crown copyright. Data supplied by General Register Office for Scotland

Death certificates following 1855 are probably the most useful of all the certificates. As well as the usual details of the deceased, you will also find the name of the spouse and the names of the parents, including the maiden name of the mother, even though they may all have been long gone!

General Links for Scotland

Back to Records Office Guide