Statutory register of births

Background information

How to search statutory birth records

The content of statutory birth records

- 1855 register entries

- Examples of statutory birth records

- Transcribed entries

- Register of Corrected Entries

Background information

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

  • If you need a birth certificate for official or legal purposes please go to Certificates and copies for guidance about online ordering. You have to register and log in to use this service.
  • If you want to carry out research in the statutory registers of births there are options to view, save and print digital images of 1855-1923 records and to order official paper certificates of those from 1924 onwards. The 100 year cut-off for viewing images online is in accordance with the National Records of Scotland's policy on protecting the privacy of individuals.

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

  • Statutory register of births (from 1855)
  • Air register (from 1948) - births in any part of the world on British-registered aircraft where one of the child's parents is usually resident in Scotland
  • Consular returns (from 1914) - certified copies of registrations by British consuls relating to persons of Scottish descent
  • Register of births, deaths and marriages in foreign countries (1860-1965) - includes births of children of Scottish parents with entries made on the basis of information supplied by the parties concerned and after consideration of the evidence of each event.
  • High Commissioners' returns (from 1964) - records from certain Commonwealth countries relating to persons of Scottish descent plus some earlier returns for India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Ghana
  • Consular and foreign records combined series (from 1975)
  • Marine register (from 1855) - births in any part of the world on British-registered merchant vessels at sea where one of the child's parents is usually resident in Scotland
  • Service records (from 1881)
    • Army returns (1881-1959) - births of Scottish persons at military stations abroad
    • Service Departments' registers (from 1 April 1959) - births outside the United Kingdom to persons ordinarily resident in Scotland who are serving in, or employed by, HM Forces

Entries in the Adopted Children's Register are not included. Please go to the Adoption page on the National Records of Scotland website for further information.

How to search statutory birth records

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

  • Surname
  • Forename
  • Gender
  • Year range - records are indexed by year of registration not year of birth
  • County or city or Minor Records
  • Registration district - the drop-down menu displays all districts in Scotland unless a county or city has been selected; and the relevant registers and returns if you've selected Minor Records. Please note that not all districts are valid for all years. If a search returns no results for a specific district, try widening the search to 'All Districts' for the county. Find out more in our guide to parishes and districts.

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.

People who visit the ScotlandsPeople Centre or local family history centres can also choose to search entries recorded in 1929 and later by mother’s maiden name.

The content of statutory birth records

Most entries contain the following information:

  • Forename and surname
  • Whether the child was illegitimate (1855-1918) - this term was discontinued from 1919 and official certificates are typed with '(illegitimate)' omitted
  • Date and place of birth
  • Time of birth - this is recorded on all Scottish statutory birth entries, not just those of twins or multiple births
  • Gender
  • 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
  • Date and place of parents’ marriage (except 1856-1860)
  • Signature and qualification of informant and their residence (if not the place of birth)
  • When and where registered and signature of registrar

1855 register entries

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

  • Other children and whether they were living or deceased
  • Ages of both parents
  • Birthplaces of both parents
  • Parents’ usual residence
  • Baptismal name (if different).

As a result entries cover two pages and are especially valuable to researchers. This example shows entries 11 to 15 from the 1855 statutory register of births for the parish of Cruden in the county of Aberdeen (registration district reference 185).

Page from 1855 statutory register of births

1855 statutory register of births for Cruden (National Records of Scotland, 1855/185/11-15)

Examples of statutory birth records

This example from the statutory register of births for the parish of Fossoway in the county of Kinross (registration district reference 461) shows the first entry for 1869. Although Elizabeth Scott was born on 10 December 1868 her birth wasn't registered by her mother until early in the following year. This entry is indexed under the year of registration not the year of birth. The term '(illegitimate)' is included in column one and no father's name is given.

Entry in statutory register of births

Statutory register of births (National Records of Scotland 1869/461/1)

Other examples of statutory birth records are:

  • Entry for Arthur Conan Doyle in the statutory register of births for the district of St Andrew in the burgh of Edinburgh (reference 1859/685-2/367) shown in colour at the top of this page
  • Entry for John Law Hume, violinist on RMS Titanic, in Scots on the Titanic
  • Entries for Queen Victoria's grandchildren, Princess Victoria and Prince Maurice of Battenberg in The Balmoral Estate.

Transcribed entries

You sometimes find two index entries for a birth. This applies from 1855 to 1934 when a child was born outside the registration district of their parents’ usual residence. The birth was registered in the district where the child was born. The registrar then sent a copy to the registrar of the district where the parents lived. The details were transcribed into that register. Both entries are indexed. If you order a birth certificate it will be from the original, not the transcribed register entry.

Register of Corrected Entries

The Register of Corrected Entries (RCE) records additional authorised information about the birth following registration. In most cases this means the addition of the father's name following a paternity case or the subsequent marriage of the parents after the birth of their child. An RCE reference is inserted beside the original entry in the statutory register of births. Images of entries with an RCE include a link to the RCE page, which is free to view.

You can find further information and an example of an RCE in the topic guide Registering illegitimate births.

If you order an official certificate of a birth entry with an RCE it will be typed with any corrections or insertions applied.

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.