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Registers of Deeds (Books of Council and Session) (Scotland)

Nature of Source

Records from deeds which were legally enforceable agreements, contracts and other writs registered in the Court of Session. A deed could deal with a variety of matters such as bonds, trust settlements and marriage settlements (a form of will), wills and codicils, tacks (lease agreements), apprenticeship indentures and business contracts. Some deeds may concern the sale of land. The original document or warrant was copied by a court clerk into the register. Each party to the agreement received a certified extract with only the warrant having the original signatures of each person. The clerk often made a brief note of the registration in the minute book which can act as an index. Otherwise a run of indexes to the main Register of Deeds registered with the Court of Session is available at the National Records of Scotland. If the relevant register is not extant or unreadable, try looking for the minute book, extract or original.

Deeds could also be registered with Sheriff Courts, Burghs, Hereditary Jurisdictions (such as Baronies, up to 1748), Commissary Courts (up to 1809) and some local courts (up to 1748). Unlike the deeds registered with the Court of Session, not all these deeds are indexed.

Other Scotland Resources
Census Returns
Charter Rolls
Clan & Tartan Records
County & Local Histories
Court Records
Directories, Trade, Professional, Telephone & Street
Electoral Registers or Burgess Rolls
Emigration Records
Estate Records & Maps
Hearth Tax
Heraldic Coats of Arms & Seals
Kirk/Church Sessions
Land Tax Assessments & Returns
Maps & Gazetteers
Militia Lists
Monumental/Memorial Inscriptions
Newspapers, magazines & journals
Old Parish Registers-Baptisms (OPRs)
Old Parish Registers-Burials (OPRs)
Old Parish Registers-Marriages & Proclamations (OPRs)
Passenger Lists
Pedigrees and Family Histories
Poor Law Records
Retours of Services of Heirs
Sasines, Registers of
Statistical Accounts of Scotland
Statutory Registration-Birth
Statutory Registration-Death
Statutory Registration-Marriage
Surname Origins and Distribution
Valuation Rolls & Stent Rolls (Names of tenants)
Wills/Testaments and Inheritance

Where Found

ScotlandsPeople Centre (The ScotlandsPeople Centre is the official government resource for family history research. Holdings include: Official copies of deeds presented to the Court of Session; Indexes for the Register of Deeds of the Court of Session for the years 1554-1595, 1661-1702, 1705-7, 1714-15, 1750-2, 1765, and from 1770 to the present. ScotlandsPeople Centre is a partnership between the National Records of Scotland and the Court of the Lord Lyon. The National Records of Scotland was created on 1 April 2011 by the amalgamation of the National Archives of Scotland and General Register Office for Scotland)
Society of Genealogists (Indexes to deeds)

Period Covered

1200 - Onwards

Genealogical Value

Names, addresses, family relationships

Further References

Family History Guides  
Adolph, Anthony. Tracing Your Scottish Family History: Collins, 2008 Buy Now on Amazon
Bigwood, Rosemary: The Scottish Family Tree Detective: Tracing Your Ancestors in Scotland: Manchester University Press, 2007  Buy Now on Amazon
Clarke, T. Tracing Your Scottish Ancestors: The Official Guide: Birlinn, 2012  Buy Now on Amazon
Cory, Kathleen B. Tracing Your Scottish Ancestry: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2009 Buy Now on Amazon
Durie, Bruce. Scottish Genealogy: The History Press, 2012  Buy Now on Amazon
Durie, Bruce. Documents for Genealogy & Local History: The History Press, 2013 Buy Now on Amazon
Hamilton-Edwards, Gerald. In Search of Scottish Ancestry: Phillimore, 1983  Buy Now on Amazon
Holton, Graham & Winch, Jack. Discover Your Scottish Ancestry: Internet and Traditional Resources: Edinburgh University Press, 2009 (Preview available from Google Books)
 Buy Now on Amazon
James, Alwyn. Scottish Roots: From Gravestone to Website: The Step-By-Step Guide to Tracing Your Scottish Ancestors: Luath Press, 2005 Buy Now on Amazon
Maxwell, Ian. Tracing your Scottish Ancestors: A Guide for Family Historians: Pen & Sword, 2009  
Paton, Chris. Researching Scottish Family History: The Family History Partnership, 2010  Buy Now on Amazon
Stewart, Alan. My Ancestor was Scottish: Society of Genealogists, 2012  Buy Now on Amazon
Tovey, Helen. My Scottish Ancestry: Lomond Books, 2011  Buy Now on Amazon
Concise Scots Dictionary: Edinburgh University Press, 1999 (Preview available from Google Books) Buy Now on Amazon
Lynch, Michael. Oxford Companion to Scottish History: OUP Oxford, 2011 Buy Now on Amazon
Moffat, Alistair & Wilson, James. The Scots: A Genetic Journey: Birlinn, 2011 Buy Now on Amazon
Richards, Eric. The Highland Clearances: Birlinn, 2013 Buy Now on Amazon
Scots Dictionary: Collins, 2014 Buy Now on Amazon
Timperley, Loretta R, (ed). A Directory of Land Ownership in Scotland c 1770: Scottish Record Society, 1976 Buy Now on Amazon
Torrance, Richard D. Scottish Trades, Professions, Vital Documents & Directories: Scottish Association of Family History Societies, 1998 Buy Now on Amazon

National Archives of Scotland Guide: Deeds
National Archives of Scotland Guide: Inheriting Land and Buildings
National Archives of Scotland Guides: Court of Session

Websites (National Records of Scotland: Research Guides: Deeds) (National Records of Scotland: Research Guides: Inheriting Land and Buildings) (The Dictionary of the Scots Language: Electronic editions of the Older Scottish Tongue [DOST] and the Scottish National Dictionary [SND]) (Scottish Language Dictionaries: The nation's resource for the Scots language) (Translate from Scots to English) (Scots Law - Scottish Land Law Glossary/Dictionary) (Land Register Scotland: Land Registry Title Deeds)

Online Databases (Scotland Deeds Index, 1769. The index consists of over 1,000 transcripts, each containing an index of the details found in minute books kept by the Court of Session, Scotland's supreme civil court. The collection contains a variety of different types of deeds including, assignations, discharges, bonds, obligations, protests and leases) (Perth Register of Deeds, 1566-1811)