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Statutory Registration-Birth (Scotland)

Nature of Source

Records and indexes containing information relating to a birth. Statutory registration became compulsory in 1855 for all births and deaths and regular marriages for all religious denominations. The regulations came into force from January 1st 1855 following the passing of the Registration of Births, Deaths and Marriages (Scotland) Act 1854. Scotland is divided into Registration Districts (originally amounting to 1027 but now significantly reduced) for the purposes of recording events with registrars acting as the official in charge.

By the 19th century the standard of record keeping by the Kirk authorities had deteriorated with the result that fewer entries of baptism, marriage and burial were being registered in the Old Parish Registers and some were lost completely. A number of factors contributed to this state of affairs such as fewer people being as observant in the established Kirk and the industrial expansion of urban town and cities where the Kirk had less influence. The growth of nonconformist sects also resulted in fewer registrations of vital events. After a number of delays and much argument between the church and secular authorities, a system of state registration was finally enacted.

The Act established the General Register Office for Scotland (now merged with the National Archives of Scotland to form the National Records of Scotland) together with the position of a Registrar General based in Edinburgh and local registration districts based on parish boundaries. Certificate copies are forwarded to the General Register Office in Edinburgh from which annual indexes covering all of Scotland are compiled. A certified legally admissible copy of a register entry is known as an extract and can be ordered online at ScotlandsPeople. The actual certificate is given at the time of the birth, marriage or death.

Some statutory register entries had to be amended whilst leaving the original intact, with these so called corrected entries kept in the Register of Corrected Entries. Always check to see if an entry is marked in the left margin with a note. Consult the annual abstract reports for general naming statistics. There is some variation in the information on certificates between 1855 and 1860 with the 1855 certificates containing a wealth of genealogical information.

If the parents of an illegitimate child, not born from an adulterous relationship, later remarried then under Scots Law the child would become legitimate. The original entry in the birth register would be amended to include the date of marriage and after 1860 would be entered into the Register of Corrected Entries under the father's name.

Other Scotland Resources
Census Returns
Clan & Tartan Records
County & Local Histories
Court Records
Directories, Trade, Professional, Telephone & Street
Electoral Registers or Burgess Rolls
Emigration Records
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
Registers of Deeds (Books of Council and Session)
Retours of Services of Heirs
Sasines, Registers of
Statistical Accounts of Scotland
Statutory Registration-Death
Statutory Registration-Marriage
Surname Origins and Distribution
Valuation Rolls & Stent Rolls
Wills/Testaments and Inheritance

Where Found

ScotlandsPeople Centre (The ScotlandsPeople Centre is the official government resource for family history research with indexes and images from the official statutory register of births, marriages and deaths dating back to 1855. Other related records include the Register of Corrected Entries, Minor Records of Births, Deaths and Marriages Overseas and the Adopted Children's Register from 1930. 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)
The Mitchell Library Genealogy Centre (Statutory Birth, Death & Marriage Records for the whole of Scotland)
Local Registrar offices
Local libraries (Digital indexes)
Society of Genealogists (Scotland Resources)
LDS FamilySearch Centers (Copies of indexes)

Period Covered

1855 - Onwards

Genealogical Value

All Years
Child's full name and sex. Date, place and time of birth. Parent's name and address including mother's maiden name. Father's occupation. Name of informant and relationship to child.
1855 Only
Ages and birthplaces of both parents, their usual residence and the date and place of their marriage. Names of earlier children born to parents.
From 1861
Date and place of parent's marriage.

Indexes include mother’s maiden name after 1928.

Further References

Registration Specific  
Sheila M, Spiers. The Parishes, Registers and Registrars of Scotland: The Scottish Association of Family History Societies, 1993 Buy Now on Amazon
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

Websites (National Records of Scotland: Research Guides: Birth, Death and Marriage Records) (National Records of Scotland: Research Guides: Statutory Registers of Births, Deaths and Marriages) (National Records of Scotland: Research Guides: Register of Corrected Entries) (National Records of Scotland: Research Guides: Minor Records of Births, Deaths and Marriages Overseas) (ScotlandsPeople Guide: Statutory registers) (ScotlandsPeople Guide: Parishes and districts)
(National Records of Scotland: Research Guides: Adoption Records) (University of Glasgow: Scottish Way of Birth and Death) (National Library of Scotland guide to resources in Scotland and online which give access to records of births, deaths, and marriages) (Registration Districts in Scotland: Introduction) (The Establishment of Civil Registration in Scotland, by Dr Anne Cameron) (Listing of free resources) (Ancestry Solutions: Civil Registration: Content, commencement date, indexes and how to obtain civil birth, marriage and death certificates) (Birth, marriage and death records) (Period Approximation Chart, adapted from "Basic Course in Genealogy," Vol.II, by Derek Harland. Use to calculate the approximate date of a birth, marriage or death) (Calculator Site: Birthday Calculator. Discover what day you were born on your star sign, your Chinese zodiac sign, your birthstone and other facts about your birthday) (Multi-country historical calendar for the years 1000 to 2100)

Online Databases

ScotlandsPeople (The ScotlandsPeople website is the official Scottish Government site for searching government records and archives including the Statutory Births Index, 1855-2013. The statutory births index contains entries from the indexes to the civil registers of births for all Scotland from 1 January 1855; Images of Statutory Births, 1855-1918. The image contains the same information you would normally see when looking at the actual record)

The Minor Records
The minor records comprise records of births, deaths and marriages of Scottish persons outside Scotland. The following indexes to births in the minor records are available on this site:
Air Register (from 1948) records births on UK registered aircraft anywhere in the world, where it appears that one of the childs parents was usually resident in Scotland. 
Consular Returns (from 1914) comprise registrations of birth by British consuls relating to persons of Scottish descent or birth.
Foreign Returns (1860-1965) Register of Births in Foreign Countries, which comprises births of children of Scottish parentage, based on evidence submitted by the parents and due consideration of such evidence.
High Commission Returns (from 1964) relate to the returns of children born of Scottish descent in certain Commonwealth countries.
Marine Register (from 1855) records births on British-registered merchant vessels at sea, where it appears that one of the child's parents was usually resident in Scotland. 
Service Returns (from 1881) include Army Returns of births of Scottish persons at military stations abroad (1881-1959) and Service Departments Registers (from 1959) incorporating births outside the United Kingdom of children of Scottish residents serving in or employed by HM forces. (Inverclyde Library: Intimations: The Watt Library index of family history notices, 1800-1918. The index contains over 100,000 local births, marriages and deaths as seen in the pages of the Greenock Advertiser, Greenock Telegraph and other local papers originally from the historic county of Renfrewshire) (Ayrshire-Roots: Ardrossan & Saltcoats Herald BDM Intimation Database, 1856-1969. Indexed entries of birth, marriage and death extracted from the Ardrossan & Saltcoats Herald) (Great Britain Births and Baptisms, 1571-1977; Deaths and Burials, 1778-1988; Marriages, 1797-1988. The datasets include Scottish civil registration records. The site incorporates the data formerly known as the International Genealogical Index and also data formerly sold on CD as the British Isles Vital Records Index. The former Ancestral File and Pedigree Resource File can be found under the heading of 'Family Trees')
(Sheriff Court Paternity Decrees, 1830-1915. This record set contains over 12,136 paternity cases [known as ‘actions of affiliation and aliment’] heard before the Sheriff Courts. For privacy reasons, the entries for 1916 will be added in 2016 and following years thereafter on an annual basis) (Scotland, Paternity Decrees 1750-1922. Records from paternity disputes that appeared before Scotland's Sheriff Court. Paternity cases were brought before the courts to decide who was responsible for paying the aliment, or the financial maintenance, of the illegitimate child. The transcripts were created by Graham and Emma Maxwell from sources found at the National Records of Scotland)