More than 3,000 baptism records covering the period 1752–1855 have recently been added to ScotlandsPeople. These new additions cover Presbyterian congregations in Ayrshire, Fife, Dundee, Renfrewshire, Aberdeenshire and Midlothian and may be helpful for anyone searching for a person who was born before the introduction of statutory registration in 1855.

The baptismal entries occur within the records of Presbyterian churches which were outside the Church of Scotland in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries but which had united with the Church of Scotland by 1929. The Church of Scotland compiled what are known as Old Parish Registers (OPRs) of baptisms, marriages and burials prior to 1855, but OPRs do not always record baptisms carried out by other churches, which kept their own registers of baptisms, marriages and burials. NRS has been indexing these 'Other Church Registers' and adding them to the ScotlandsPeople site since 2016. More baptism entries from other congregations are in preparation.

If you are unable to find an ancestor within the OPRs, consult the 'Roman Catholic Church records' and 'Other churches' for pre-1855 events, especially for the period 1843–54, when a third of the Church of Scotland members left to set up the Free Church.

Search the church baptism registers or read more about them in our church registers guide.

Rosina Hardie

An interesting baptism example from the newly-released records relates to the adoption of a young girl, Rosina Hardie, in 1847. Before 1930, and the passing of The Adoption of Children (Scotland) Act, adoptions were arranged on a private basis in Scotland through families or the church, as in Rosina's case.

Reputedly the daughter of John Hatton from Broughty Ferry and Matilda Whyte, the baptism record notes that she was ‘born in adultery’. Rosina was subsequently adopted by James Hardie and his wife. She was baptised at Dundee Tay Square United Secession Church on 9 August 1847, at the age of four.

The baptism entry of Rosina Hardie, 9 August 1847

The baptism entry of Rosina Hardie, 9 August 1847
National Records of Scotland, Presbyterian Baptism entry, CH3/94/15, page 22

Rosina's story also illustrates the difficulties that researchers can face when searching for someone whose name changes frequently. In the 1851 census, for example, Rosina is recorded as 'Rosana'. She is living with her adopted family—her father James, mother Elizabeth and brother William—and is described as a 'scholar.'

Ten years later, she is recorded as 'Rosanna H Hutton', using her birth father's surname. She is also noted as being the 'adopted daughter' in relation to the head of the family.

Rosina married James Lafferty, a soldier, on 4 November 1868. Her surname is once again recorded as 'Huton' and she gives her birth parents' details, rather than those of her adopted parents. Rosina returns to her adopted surname for the 1871 census, when she is living with James Hardie, but later uses 'Hutton' to register her father’s death.

When her husband died in 1880, she signed the register 'Rosanna H Lafferty.'

The final entry on ScotlandsPeople relating to Rosina appears to be the 1881 census, where she is recorded as working as a servant in the household of Edward Scott, a ship's fireman, under the name of 'Rosea Lafferty'.

Further information about researching name variants is available in the guides on Forenames and Surnames.

List of volumes released in August 2019

Beith – Head St Relief (CH3/1054/10), 1802–1820
Dundee – Tay Square United Secession (CH3/94/15), 1831–1848
Dunfermline – Gillespie Relief (CH3/1689/5/1), 1752–1782
East Calder Associate (CH3/349/2), 1777–1802
Greenock – Trinity Associate, Nicholson Street United Presbyterian (CH3/659/9), 1836–1850
Irvine Relief, Irvine United Presbyterian (CH3/409/1), 1778–1831
Kintore Free (CH3/195/3), 1843–1855