relating to death and burial in Scottish archives are used by a wide
variety of researchers, including genealogists, social historians,
demographers, and medical historians. For further historical background
on the subject of death and disposal of the dead, see the entry on
Death and Burial. Registration of death by civil authorities began
in Scotland in 1855. From then until the present it has been mandatory
for deaths of individuals to be registered with civil registrars.
Prior to 1855, apart from the Church of Scotland, very few corporate
bodies were interested in recording deaths per se, and records of
burials or some other aspect of death, such as succession to property
after death, are more common.
Registration of death by civil authorities
began in Scotland in 1855, when Scotland was divided into registration
districts, each supposed to record all births, marriages and deaths
therein. For more information about post-1855 civil registers of
death and how to search for these online go to either the General
Register Office website or the Scotlandís People website.
Other records of death and burial
Prior to 1855 the principal source of information
about deaths in Scotland is the collection of Old Parish Registers
(OPRs) of baptisms, marriages and burials held by the General Register
Office for Scotland. There are limitations to these. Firstly they
were compiled by Church of Scotland parishes, and so do not record
the deaths of members of many other churches. Secondly, in many
cases the registers are of burials not deaths, and, in addition
to a date of burial, these may or may not give a date and cause
of death. Thirdly, for various reasons, registers of death and burial
suffered from poor record keeping much more than corresponding registers
of baptisms and marriages. For more information about OPRs and how
to search for these online go to either the General Register Office
website or the Scotlandís People website.
For other death and burial records see below:
and death registers of other protestant churches
registers of Catholic churches
Fiscal records and Fatal Accident Enquiries
of municipal and private cemeteries
registers of death
of undertakers and monumental masons
Other related SCAN Knowledge Base entries
Death and Burial
What was a mortcloth?
Where should I look for information about, or records of, mortcloths?
What was a mortsafe?
What was a morthouse?
What was a watch box?
Where should I look for information about, or records of, mortsafes,
morthouses or watch boxes?
Where should I look for information about, or records of, churchyard
Do records of coronersí inquests survive in Scotland?
What is a bill of mortality?