On the ScotlandsPeople site you have access to a wide range of records kept by the Scottish Government, churches and courts of law (see a complete alphabetical guide to records in the site). Five categories of records are indexed by personal name (civil registers, church registers, census returns, valuation rolls and legal records), and these can also be searched in different ways. You can search these free of charge and pay for copies using credits or vouchers. A special category consists of our image library, which can be searched in different ways.
Categories of records indexed by personal name
Statutory registers are official records of births, marriages and deaths, which have been kept in Scotland from 1855 onwards. In the late twentieth century registers of divorces, dissolutions, civil partnerships were also kept. The registers can be searched by personal name but some modern records are closed. Read more about statutory registers.
Census returns are lists of people living at each address, giving ages, places of birth and other information about them. Censuses have been taken every 10 years in Scotland and census returns survive from 1841 onwards. They have been indexed and can be searched by personal name. Read more about census returns.
On ScotlandsPeople you have access to the archives of the Church of Scotland, the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland and some other denominations. Church registers of births and baptisms, marriages and burials survive from 1560 onwards in Scotland. Read more about church registers.
Valuation rolls are lists of the owners, tenants and occupiers of buildings and other properties. They were compiled by county and burgh assessors in Scotland annually from 1855 until 1987. Read more about valuation rolls and how to search them. Valuation rolls are lists of owners and occupiers of buildings and other properties in Scotland from 1855 onwards. Search valuation rolls or read the guide on valuation rolls.
Legal records available on this site include wills and testaments, soldiers' and airmen's wills, coats of arms, and the records of First World War military appeals tribunals. Read more about legal records. On this site legal records mainly refer to registers and other records from Scottish civil, criminal and church courts. They include wills and testaments, coats of arms, soldiers' and airmen's wills and Military Service Appeal Tribunal records.
On this site you can also search some records by place.
Photographs and illustrations
For archive photographs, illustrations from historical records and images of important documents visit our image library.
1127 - Earliest written document (royal charter) in National Records of Scotland
1164 - Earliest state papers in National Records of Scotland
1293 - Earliest records of the Scottish parliament
1513 - Earliest registers of wills and testaments
1538 - Earliest Old Parish Registers of baptisms, marriages and burials
1560 - Reformation in Scotland
1672 - Public Register of All Arms and Bearings (coats of arms) in Scotland begins
1707 - Union of Scottish and English parliaments
1800 - First recorded attempt to make a photograph
1801 - First census in Scotland
1841 - Earliest surviving census returns for all households in Scotland
1850s - Earliest photographs in our Image Library
1855 - Civil registration of births, marriages and deaths begins
1855 - Valuation rolls begin to be kept for counties and burghs
1857 - Earliest soldiers' wills registered (later soldiers' and airmen's wills)
1914-1918 - First World War, conscription introduced in 1916 and Military Service Appeals Tribunal Records survive for 1916-1918
1929 - Local Government (Scotland) Act makes major changes to the way burghs are included in valuation rolls
1940 - Registrars begin performing civil marriages
1975 - Counties and burghs abolished for local government purposes
1984 - Register of divorces begins
2005 - Register of civil partnerships begins
2014 - Registration of same-sex marriages begins