Scottish Archive Network Family History

Back to Family History
An Emigrant
A Ship Passenger
A passport Holder
A School Pupil
A University Student
A Schoolteacher
An Islander
A Burgess
A Ratepayer
A Houseowner
A Landowner
A Policeman
A Pauper
A Prisoner
  My ancestor was a landowner

Landownership records
The most frequently used records of landownership in Scotland are:

  • Sasine registers
  • Valuation rolls
  • Title deeds and inventories
  • Tax rolls
  • Estate papers

The majority of property transactions in Scotland from 1617 until the late 20th century were sent by lawyers to be registered in centrally held registers known collectively as the register of sasines. Where a family owned an estate, the surviving records of property management are referred to as estate papers, and many collections of estate papers are either in archive offices or still held privately by the families that created them. A further type of property record which is frequently used is the tax roll. Taxation in Scotland became well organised and better recorded from the 1690s onwards, and most taxes were based on property ownership. Most records of taxation in Scotland are held by the National Archives of Scotland. A special type of tax roll was the valuation roll, on which each property’s rental value and annual tax was estimated, and the name and address of the owner and tenant recorded.

What to do now
The text above is a summary of a longer article on property records in the SCAN Knowledge Base. You can read this by clicking here. For more details about the early register of sasines (before 1781) see the fact sheet on sasines on the National Archives of Scotland website. For details of sasines after 1781 go to the SCAN Knowledge Base entry on Sasine Abridgements. For more information about tax records see the entry on taxation in the National Archives of Scotland website. For more information about valuation rolls see the SCAN Knowledge Base entry on Valuation Rolls.

The Knowledge Base also contains answers to Frequently Asked Questions. Click on one of these for an answer compiled by Scotland's archivists, or click on the Knowledge Base for a wider selection.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How is the word 'sasines' pronounced and what does it mean?

To enter the Knowledge Base click here.