Family Tree Research Scotland
Statutory registration for births, marriages and deaths came into effect in Scotland on 1st January 1855. Until that date is was the responsibility of the Church. Not every event was recorded prior to 1855 because some people did not bother, especially if there was a fee involved. Some records pre-1855 were better kept than others and likewise some have survived in a better condition than others and some have not survived at all.
OPR’s (Old Parish Registers)
The information contained in the OPR’s has been compiled from the surviving registers from the 900 parishes of the established Church of Scotland and are held at the General Register Office of Scotland (GROS) in Edinburgh.
Records available from OPR’s cover the years:-
Births and Baptisms: - 1553-1854 (sometimes shows birth date but was a record of baptisms. Mother’s name was not always present)
Banns and Marriages: - 1553-1854
Death: - No national names index exists for deaths before 1855 but some records may be available in the parish where the event happened.
Non-Conformist church records are held at the National Archive Scotland, which is also located in Edinburgh.
Images of birth, marriage and death entries are available to view and download from the statutory records with restrictions.
For birth registration: - an image can be viewed from 1855 until 100 years from the present date. If the event occurred less than 100 years ago, an extract must be obtained.
For marriage registration an extract must be obtained if the event happened less than 75 years ago.
An extract must be obtained for a death which occurred less than 50 years ago.
An image is a copy of the registry page containing the entry of interest and includes several other entries. An extract is a certified, legally admissible copy of a specific entry in the register.
Indexes for the events are also available but are not as detailed. The index will give a year for an event but not the date. An index does, however, give the GROS data code, which is the reference point for the records held in New Register House in Edinburgh. Having this data, would allow an extract to be ordered at a later date, if desired.
Wills and Testaments are also available for the years 1513-1901
This covers births, marriages and deaths for Scottish people outside of Scotland and includes:-
Air Register (from 1948) Births and deaths on British registered aircraft where it seems the deceased was a Scottish resident or, at least, one parent of the child born was Scottish
Consular Returns (1914 birth and death 1917 marriages)
Foreign Returns (1860-1965)
All information on your family tree should be backed up with “proof” of information. For instance, John Smith born 1854 in Scotland noted in a family tree file is not proof but John Smith born Dundee district on 01 Jan 1854 with the relevant GROS data code, an extract copy of his birth or an LDS reference number should be sought.