More than a million pages of kirk session and other Church of Scotland court records released on ScotlandsPeople



Garvald Kirk
Garvald Kirk

ScotlandsPeople announced this week that thousands of volumes of historical records from the collections of National Records of Scotland (NRS) are now available online for the first time.

Images of more than a million pages from the kirk session and other court records of the Church of Scotland can now be viewed and downloaded on ScotlandsPeople. These records contain details of key events in communities across the country between 1559 and 1900 and are one of the most important sources for Scottish historical research.

Read more about this new records release in their news article.

You are able to browse through the kirk session records for free, only using credits when you would like to save an image, as these records are made available without intensive indexing of their contents by personal name, place or other subjects.

ScotlandsPeople have also produced a series of guides to help you understand how to use the records and how to navigate the virtual volumes system.

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ScotlandsPeople website is updating mother’s maiden name in statutory records

This week ScotlandsPeople announced in an email to customers that it was making updates to the mother’s maiden name search field in the statutory register of deaths index. This is as part of their ongoing improvements to their website and in response to requests from users in a customer survey that they undertook.

scotlandspeople website

The ScotlandsPeople website is the official Scottish Government site for searching government records and archives and is used by hundreds of thousands of family history researchers each year to apply for copies of official certificates and to research their Scots family, biography, local history and social history.

Before 1974 the deceased’s mother’s maiden name was not routinely included in Scottish death index but where this information was included on the death records before this date ScotlandsPeople are retrospectively adding this to the index. The website is beginning with the years closest to the introduction of statutory registration in 1855 and they now report that they have now updated most years up to 1880, adding mother’s maiden names to more than 1 million records. Their plan is to have completed the records up to 1883 by the end of this year.

If you have Scots ancestors then you can use their site and populate the name search fields as well as choose to ‘include unrecorded mother’s maiden surname’ in your search. Of course you may find that if you enter a name in this search field and the information has not yet been added, or it was unavailable at the time of registration, that a result will not be found. For more information relating to statutory death registers and how to search them, have a look at their online guide.

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Maps and Plans Release from ScotlandsPeople

I read the following news with interest as when I research my Scottish ancestors a map is always useful in understanding their environment.


From ScotlandsPeople

More than 2,400 historic maps, plans and drawings from National Records of Scotland (NRS) collections have been made available on the ScotlandsPeople website. Many of the maps show the changing Scottish landscape over time. They also record where people lived or worked, so they can throw light on ancestors’ lives and even suggest new avenues for research. The maps and plans cover certain areas of Scotland, but not the whole of the country. They include both country estates and plans of towns and cities, including for example Glasgow. Most of the maps and plans originate in the records of court cases, Scottish government departments, Heritors’ records, as well as in private collections gifted to or purchased by NRS.

If you would like to find out more, read their maps and plans guide, or search the maps and plans.

The maps and plans collection is amongst the finest in the UK and contains the largest number of Scottish manuscript maps and plans held by any single institution. Spanning four centuries, the collections cover both manuscript and printed topographical maps and plans. They are particularly strong in estate and railway plans; architectural drawings; and engineering drawings, particularly of ships, railway engines and rolling stock. More maps and plans will be added to the ScotlandsPeople website.

Plan of the Carron River from Carron works to Grangemouth - 1797 National Records of Scotland
Plan of the Carron River from Carron works to Grangemouth, 1797
National Records of Scotland, RHP242/2

This plan of the Carron River was drawn in 1797 by John Ainslie, one of the foremost mapmakers of his time. His great map of Scotland, drawn between 1787 and 1788, was a landmark in clarifying the outline of Scotland. The River Carron is almost 14 miles in length; rising in the Campsie Fells it is shown here passing what was one of the most important industrial sites in Scotland, the Carron Works which manufactured cast iron goods, and continuing down towards Grangemouth.


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The ScotlandsPeople website relaunched

scotlandspeople website

This week saw the relaunch of ScotlandsPeople website under its new operators, CACI. For years it had been run for the Scottish Government by the people behind FindMyPast, but they relinquished their franchise and this week saw the new site appear, albeit a little later than expected.


The top genealogy website for tracing your Scottish ancestors because it contains millions of documents held by the National Records of Scotland (NRS) – now boasts an enhanced search facility and new user interface that is designed from the start to be accessible on a range of devices.

There has been a slight increase in the price of purchasing pay-per-view credits from £7 to £7.50 for 30 credits, but users are no longer charged for accessing statutory index entries to birth, marriage, death, Old Parish Register and Open Census records.

If, like me you had been a previous user then, all credits, saved images and searches from the old version of the website are still be available to users once you log into the new platform.


I have spent a profitable time this weekend searching out some of my Scots forebears in the Old Parish Records, finding a number of my ancestors in 18th century Fife. I was particularly pleased to find a marriage in 1719 in the parish of Wemyss that looks like it could be relevant for my maternal family tree.

Family Tree on a computer

If you have any Scottish ancestry then now is a good time to take a look at the records on this website:

The ScotlandsPeople website  is the official Scottish Government site for searching government records and archives and is used by hundreds of thousands of people each year to apply for copies of official certificates and to research family history, biography, local history and social history.



You may also be interested in this book…



This fully revised second edition of Ian Maxwell’s Tracing Your Scottish Ancestors is a lively and accessible introduction to Scotland’s long, complex and fascinating story. It is aimed primarily at family historians who are eager to explore and understand the world in which their ancestors lived.

He guides readers through the wealth of material available to researchers in Scotland and abroad. He looks at every aspect of Scottish history and at all the relevant resources. As well as covering records held at the National Archives of Scotland, he examines closely the information held at local archives throughout the country. He also describes the extensive Scottish records that are now available on line.

His expert and up-to-date survey is a valuable handbook for anyone who is researching Scottish history because he explains how the archive material can be used and where it can be found. For family historians, it is essential reading as it puts their research into a historical perspective, giving them a better insight into the part their ancestors played in the past.

Read more about this book here:

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