Tracing your family history
back into the early 1800s can be difficult, as
the registration system changed in the middle
of the century. This section helps you to make
sense of the different information sources.
The key date in Scottish Family
History is 1855, when the civil registration of
births, marriages and deaths first started. Prior
to this date, the recording of births, marriages
and deaths was largely in the hands of church
clerks - and in 19th century Scotland over a third
of the population were not members of the Church
of Scotland, but belonged to other churches.
For information from the period
after 1855, have a look at the civil registers
of births, marriages and deaths held by the General
Register Office for Scotland (GROS). You can
get a description of how the registers are organised
by reading one of the books recommended in the
do at home' section.
Old Parish Registers
For information prior to 1855,
have a look at the Old Parish Registers (OPRs)
of baptisms, marriages and burials (i.e. those
compiled by the clerks of Church of Scotland parishes)
- also held by the GROS.
Microfilm copies of OPRs are held in many parts
of Scotland by local studies libraries, family
history societies and genealogical centres run
by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
(Mormons). Again, the books recommended in the
do at home' section provide further details.
Information about what to do if your ancestor
does not appear in the OPRs will appear in this
website shortly. Register, and we'll keep you
up to date with developments.
Another type of record crucial
for 19th century family tree research are census
returns. Censuses were taken every 10 years and
household surveys, or returns, listing individuals
in each household are accessible from 1841 until
1901. Census returns are held by the GROS,
but microfilm copies of the censuses can be consulted
throughout Scotland in local studies libraries,
family history societies and genealogical centres.
1891 Census return,
reproduced with the kind permission of the Registrar
General for Scotland.
Searching the Registers
The civil registers and OPRs
are searchable online via the GROS's ScotlandsPeople
site. In addition, much of the Scottish information
in the Genealogical Society of Utah's familysearch
online service is based on information from
the Old Parish Registers. For further guidance
on Scottish genealogy via the Internet see our
useful links pages in the SCAN Directory.