Atlantic Crossings

Scotish Records

by Phil Westwood

Scotland came to Civil Registration later than England and Wales on I Jan 1855. However , the range of detail given makes the Scottish certificates and registers much more useful and informative than those for England and Wales.

With Scottish records an increasing amount ia available via the internet . Theres an excellent new searchable web site where the following records can be searched for a small fee with more due to come on line later

  • Scottish Births 1553-1901
  • Marriages 1553-1926
  • Deaths 1853- 1951
  • Indexed Census returns 1881 , 1891 , 1901

For those who are able to visit all Scottish records are kept at New Register House , Edinburgh . A fee is payable to enter the building but copying notes from the registers is free saving money paying for certificates . You are not able to copy copy from the registers in England and Wales

Marriage Certificates in Scotland state

  • When , where and how married
  • Full names of Bride and Groom
  • Rank or Profession
  • Maritial status
  • Age
  • Usual residence
  • Fathers name , rank or profession
  • Mothers name and maiden surname for both Bridegroom and Bride
  • Witnesses

Birth Certificates

  • Childs name , date , time and place of birth
  • Sex , Fathers name , rank or profession
  • Mothers name and maiden name
  • Date and place of Parents marriage
  • Usual address if different from place of birth
  • Signature of informant and his/her relationship to the Child.

Death Certificates

  • Date , time , place and cause of death
  • Name of Doctor who certified death
  • Name of informant
  • Occupation of deceased
  • Name of Parents and whether or not they are deceased
  • Occupation of Father
  • Usually name of Spouse
  • Age and maritial status of deceased

Census Returns

These take a very similar form to those for England and Wales . As with England and Wales very few returns from 1801 to 1831 survive . Subsequent censuses are complete with the 1901 census being the latest to be released

Pre Civil Registration Parish Records.

Before Civil Registration in 1855 events were recorded in Old Parish Records (OPR`s) . These are mainly records kept by the Presbyterian Church of Scotland . They are unfortunately far from complete . The standard of record keeping was patchy and some Churches kept no registers at all . Members of other denominations were in theory compelled to register events with the Church of Scotland but this was costly , unpopular and usually avoided.

However , if your Ancestors Baptism or Marriage was recorded these have been indexed and can be easily accessed via the Scotland People web site

Irregular marriages

Irregular marriages - those not performed by the Church were outlawed in England in 1754 . The age when couples could marry without Parents consent was raised to 21.

In Scotland the minimum age of marriage remained at 16.Scottish law only required the couple to declare they were Husband and Wife before two witnesses . English couples began to cross the border to take advantage of this and runaway marriages became common around border Towns especially Gretna Green on the Western border and Lamberton Toll on the Eastern border . Irregular marriages continued in Scotland until the law was changed in 1940

The runaway marriage trade led to many offering their services and making a lucrative living as self styled "Priests". Very few were ordained Ministers . Couples were eager to pay to be married as quickly as possible before Parents in hot pursuit crossed the border and tried to stop the Wedding.

The custodians of all known Scottish irregular and runaway marriage records are listed at

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    Philip Westwood runs a genealogical service enabling Americans and Canadians to research their English Ancestors. For more details view his profile.

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