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Scotland Births - What else you can try

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This page will give you additional guidance and resources to find birth information for your ancestor. Use this page after first completing the birth section of the Scotland Guided Research page.

Additional online resources


Additional Databases and Online Resources

ScotlandsPeople ($) is the premiere website for Scotland birth records. The site requires the user to register in order to search the index for free. It costs a small fee to view any image. ScotlandsPeople is the only site with the images to Scotland church and vital records; all other sites only have indexes to these records. The FamilySearch Catalog has some of these records available online as digital images.

Substitute records


Additional Records with Birth Information

Substitute records may contain information about more than one event and are used when records for an event are not available. Records that are used to substitute for birth events may not have been created at the time of the birth. The accuracy of the record is contingent upon when the information was recorded. Search for information in multiple substitute records to confirm the accuracy of these records.

Use these substitute records to locate birth information about your ancestor:
Wiki Page
FamilySearch(FS) Collections
Why to search the records
Death Registers
Scotland Death Guided Research
Go back to the Scotland Guided Research page, and click on "Death". Death registers (after 1855) may include the deceased individual's birth date or age at death, suggesting an approximate birth date by subtracting the age from the death date.
Cemetery Records
See Wiki page
Monumental or tombstone inscriptions and records created when a deceased individual was interred in a cemetery. May include the deceased individual's birth date or age.
Census Records
Scotland Census FS Collections
Census records from 1841 onward give the age and birthplace of the recorded individuals, allowing researchers to discover birth places and calculate birth years. Click to search the 1901 Scotland Census ($).
Church Death and Burial Records
See Wiki page
Death and burial parish registers may include age at death, allowing researchers to calculate approximate birth years. However, usually only the name and date of death are listed.
Nonconformist Records
See Wiki page
Roman Catholic and other nonconformist churches, such as the Presbyterian Church, also have birth and baptism parish registers.
See Wiki page
May contain birth and death notices and even obituaries. Death notices and obituaries may list the deceased's birth date or age.
Military Records
See Wiki page
Military records, after 1707, generally include the birth place and age of the individual, allowing researchers to calculate the approximate birth year.
Poor Law Records
See Wiki page
May contain birth place and age, allowing researchers to calculate approximate birth years.

Improve searching


Tips for finding births

Successfully finding birth records in online databases depends on a few key points. Try the following search suggestions:

  • Spelling variations. Your ancestor's name may be misspelled. Search with spelling variations for the first and last name of your ancestor.
  • Search parents. Search for the parents, if known, as the child's first name may not be on the birth record.
  • Search given name. Search by given name (leave out the last name) with the approximate date of birth.
  • Add information. For common names, add more information to narrow the search such as approximate birth date or parent's names if known.
  • Date range. Expand the date range of the search by 5 years.
  • Search place. Search using the county or parish name (if known). Go to Finding the Scotland County of Origin to learn how to find the county.

Why the record may not exist


Known Record Gaps

Records Start
Mandatory birth registration started in 1855. Before this, birth and baptisms can be found in church records (mainly the Church of Scotland or Roman Catholic Church). Although the oldest baptism registers date to 1553, many churches only have records starting in the 18th or early 19th century. While parishes were required to record baptisms and marriages beginning in 1552, many parishes did not comply with the requirement until much later.

Records Destroyed
Some church records may have been lost or destroyed, although more specific information is not known. Civil registration records are generally complete.

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