Statutory register of marriages

Search statutory marriage records
Search statutory marriage records

Background information

How to search statutory marriage records

Understanding the content in statutory marriage records

- 1855 register entries

- Examples of statutory marriage records

- Register of Corrected Entries

Background information

The statutory register of marriages dates from 1 January 1855 when compulsory, civil registration was introduced in Scotland. The records are indexed by personal name.

  • If you need a marriage certificate for official or legal purposes please go to certificates and copies for guidance about online ordering. You have to register and login to use this service.
  • If you want to carry out research in the statutory register of marriages there are options to view, save and print digital images of 1855-1942 records and to order official paper certificates of 1943-2016 entries. The 75 year cut-off for viewing images online is in accordance with the National Records of Scotland's policy on protecting the privacy of individuals.

Marriages is a record type in the advanced search category statutory registers and includes the Minor Records of marriages overseas. It covers the following:

  • Statutory register of marriages (from 1855)
  • Consular returns (from 1917) - certified copies of registrations by British consuls relating to persons of Scottish descent or birth
  • Register of births, deaths and marriages in foreign counties (1860-1965) - includes marriages of Scots with entries made on the basis of information supplied by the parties concerned and after consideration of the evidence of each event
  • Foreign marriages (from 1947) - certified copies of certificates (with translations) relating to marriages of persons from Scotland in certain foreign countries according to local laws and without the presence of a British consular officer
  • High Commissioners' returns (from 1964) - some returns are available for marriages in certain Commonwealth countries
  • Consular and foreign records combined series (from 1975)
  • Service records (from 1881)
    • Army returns (1881-1959) - marriages of Scottish persons at military stations abroad
    • Services Departments' registers (from 1 April 1959) - marriages outside the United Kingdom relating to persons ordinarily resident in Scotland who are serving in, or employed by, HM Forces, including the families of members of the Forces
    • Certified copies of entries relating to marriages solemnised by Army chaplains outside the United Kingdom since 1892 where one of the parties is described as Scottish and at least one of the parties is serving in HM Forces

How to search statutory marriage records

Go to advanced search - statutory registers - marriages. You can add search data to the following index fields:

  • Surname
  • Forename
  • Spouse's surname
  • Spouse's forename
  • Gender
  • Year range
  • County or city or Minor Records
  • Registration district - the drop-down menu will display all districts unless you've selected county or city; and registers and returns if you've selected Minor Records.

The search form includes tips for each field with links to more detailed research guides where appropriate. You can sort search results by any field except Ref which combines the registration district and entry numbers.

Understanding the content in statutory marriage records

Most register entries contains the following information:

  • Date and place of marriage
  • How married - for regular marriages this is after publication of banns according to the form of a particular church, for irregular marriages it will usually be by declaration in front of two witnesses; and for civil marriages (from 1 July 1940) after publication in the office of the district registrar and in the presence of the said registrar in accordance with the Marriage (Scotland) Act 1939
  • Surname and forename of the couple
  • Signature of parties
  • Rank, profession or occupation - if you find an unknown term check the glossary - occupations for further information
  • Whether single (spinster or bachelor) or widowed
  • Age at marriage
  • Usual residence of both parties
  • Name and surname of father
  • Rank or profession of father - if you find an unknown term check the glossary - occupations for further information
  • Name and maiden surname of mother
  • Signature of officiating minister and witnesses for regular marriages or date of conviction, decree of declarator or sheriff’s warrant for irregular marriages
  • When and where registered and signature of registrar.

1855 register entries

In 1855, the first year of civil registration, additional information was recorded:

  • Birthplace and when and where registered
  • Number of former marriages of each spouse
  • Number of children by those marriages.

As a result entries cover two pages and are especially valuable to researchers. This example shows two entries from the 1855 statutory register of marriages for the parish of Tranent in the county of Haddington (now East Lothian). Click on the image to view it full size.

Double page from 1855 statutory register of marriages

Statutory register of marriages for Tranent (National Records of Scotland, 1855/722/19-20)

Examples of statutory marriage records

This example shows detail from a 1900 marriage entry from the statutory register of marriages for the parish of Cambusnethan in the county of Lanark. It is a regular marriage 'after banns according to the forms of the Free Church of Scotland'. Click on the image to view the full register page.

Detail from statutory marriage record with RCE

Here are some more examples of statutory marriage records:

  • Feature article Irregular Marriage in Scotland includes images of three marriages by declaration in front of two witnesses and background information about the marriage between Masataka Taketsuru and Jessie R Cowan in the district of Calton in the burgh of Glasgow (National Records of Scotland, 1902/644-3/103) shown in colour at the top of this page.
  • Queen Victoria was one of the witnesses to the marriage of Alfred Blaker and Victoria Alberta McDonald in 1897 included in the feature on The Balmoral Estate.

Register of Corrected Entries

The Register of Corrected Entries (RCE) records additional authorised information about the marriage entry following registration. In most cases the RCEs record the subsequent divorce in Scotland prior to the introduction of the statutory register of divorces in 1984. An RCE reference is inserted beside the original entry in the statutory register of marriages. Images of entries with an RCE include a link to the RCE page which is free to view.

In the example of a statutory marriage record above there is an RCE reference beside the entry. This detail from the RCE page provides detail about the divorce. Click on the image to view the full RCE page.

Detail from RCE page

You may find corrections on a register entry along with notes in the margins of the page indicating which column(s) has been amended and the registrar's initials. These are known as clerical errors and are not RCEs.