The statutory registers comprise the official records of births, marriages and deaths in Scotland from 1 January 1855 when civil registration replaced the old system of registration by parishes of the Established Church (Church of Scotland). From 1855, registration became compulsory, regardless of religious denomination, and followed a standard format for each record type. More information was required in order to register an event, particularly at the start of the new system.
1855 birth records were very detailed and are a boon to the family historian. In addition to details about the child (date, place and time of birth, full name, sex), the parents' names (including maiden surname of mother), father's occupation, name of informant and relationship to child, an 1855 birth certificate also contains information on siblings, the ages and birthplaces of both parents, their usual residence and the date and place of their marriage. Such detail proved difficult to sustain and entries were modified from 1856. Information on siblings was removed, as were ages and birthplaces of parents and date and place of parents' marriage. In birth certificates since 1861 however, the date and place of the parents' marriage was reinstated.
Example of an 1855 births image
See Images for a detailed breakdown of the information you can expect to find on statutory birth entries in any given year.
Statutory Births Index
The statutory births index contains entries from the indexes to the civil registers of births for all Scotland, from 1855 until 2013.
The index does not include:
- the full date of the event because only the year was captured when the indexes were compiled, although the full date is present on register entries themselves.
-the parents' names, but these are present on register entries themselves.
Images of Statutory Births
Images of statutory births from 1855 to 1914 are available to view on this site. A digital image is a scan of the microfiche copy of the original register page containing the entry in which you are interested. It therefore contains the same information you would normally see when looking at the actual record. Images are Crown copyright; however, they are not official copies. If you wish to have a certified, legally admissible copy of the specific register entry in which you are interested, you will need to order an extract. See Extract Orders
Example of a statutory births image
You may occasionally come across records with a note in the left margin 'RCE' or 'Reg. Cor. Ent.' followed by a volume number, page number and date. RCE stands for Register of Corrected Entries, or, from 1965, Register of Corrections,Etc. If, after an entry in a register had been completed, an error was discovered or some other amendment was required as a result of new information, the original entry could not be altered. Instead, each registrar kept a register of corrected entries in which such amendments were written, originally after they had been approved by a sheriff. Corrections might be to name, residence, identity, or as a result of a sheriff's finding in a paternity case, with the father's name being added as directed by the sheriff, or as a result of an illegitimate child being legitimised by its parents' subsequent marriage. When an extract certificate is issued of an entry to which an RCE relates, the extract must reflect the amendments recorded in the RCE.
Images of RCEs are now available here on ScotlandsPeople. Please read the help on RCEs before viewing them.
The following is an example of an RCE relating to a name change in a birth entry:
Birth entry showing RCE reference in left margin
Use the information from a statutory births entry to further your search. The parents' names, and date and place of marriage details (1855 entries and those from 1861 onwards) can help you to find the parent's marriage. Bear in mind that parents did not have to prove the date of their marriage prior to registering the birth of a child, therefore it is not unusual for the date of marriage to be incorrect, either by accident or by design e.g. to conceal an illegitimacy. Use the addresses shown to confirm census details, and to track the family in the earlier census returns.
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.
To search the minor records indexes for births, go to the statutory births search form and select Minor Records from the Counties/City/Minor Records drop-down list. The screen will refresh with the available minor records displayed in the District drop-down list.
Images of Minor Record births are available here on ScotlandsPeople up to 1913. For index entries after 1913, you may wish to order an extract to see the full details of the register entry. See Extracts for more information.
The following sample images illustrate the type of information found in the Minor Records: