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  Sasine Abridgements


Sasines and Searches
Registers of Sasines were volumes recording property transactions in Scotland from the early 17th century until the late 20th century. For more details about these see the bibliography and links below. By the early 19th century the Registers of Sasines were were very large and the process of legal searching very time-consuming. A particular problem was the General Register, which had to be searched along with the Particular Register for the county or other area in question. Both would be searched for 40 years, or sometimes longer. Consequently in 1821 the Record Office began the process of compiling abridgements, going back to 1781, combining short summaries of all the entries for a particular county or registration area in a single chronological series.

These Abridgements:

  • do not cover the burgh Registers of Sasines, for which there may be no finding aids except contemporary manuscript summaries, not indexed;
  • are indexed by persons and places, but the indexing of places was abandoned in the period 1831-1871;
  • were printed, but are not widely available other than in the National Archives (for the whole of Scotland) and in local archives (for the local area).
Explaining Sasine Abridgements
Rights to heritable property might be conveyed in a wide range of circumstances. What follows covers the commonest types of entry in the Abridgements, but the user should remember that the abridgment is perhaps only a 5-10 line summary of a document which may itself take up 20 pages or more in the register. A good deal of what is missing is legal verbiage, of which there was more then than now, but a great deal is essential for the full understanding of the sasine. The reader must expect to have to consult the original document for any especially interesting entry. Commonly occurring words, especially forms of title deeds, are abbreviated. These are printed in italics below, and are explained. The examples are all taken from Aberdeenshire in 1852. Click on one of these types to see an example. Bibliography and links
For more information about Sasine Registers see the websites of Registers of Scotland and the National Archives of Scotland or read the chapters on owners of lands and houses in Cecil Sinclair, Tracing Your Scottish Ancestors (HMSO, 1997) and Tracing Scottish Local History (HMSO, 1994), both of which can be purchased from the National Archives of Scotland website.

Andrew Jackson, Robin Urquhart, Alan Borthwick (all SCAN).


Frequently Asked Questions

1. How do I pronounce the word 'sasine' and what does it mean?

2. What do the abbreviations in Sasine Abridgements stand for?

3. How do I convert the legal terminology into who is doing what with which bit of property?

4. To see the full entry in the General Register of Sasines or Particular Register of Sasines what information will I need from the Sasine Abridgement?

5. Are Sasine Abridgements a good source for genealogy?

Image 1

image of sasine abridgements
Abridgements of Sasine for Aberdeenshire (National Archives of Scotland: reference RS8).