Scotland - Death - 1855-Present

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Scotland Gotoarrow.png Scotland: Research Strategies for Locating Births, Marriages and Deaths

These sources are listed in the order most likely to help you find a death record in this time period.

Family Sources

Check with family members to see if someone has death information for your ancestor. Perhaps someone has a copy of the death certificate.

Death Certificate: Civil registration

Civil registration is the government registration of births, marriages, and deaths beginning 1 January 1855. In these records you may find the name of the deceased; his or her cause of death, death date and place, rank or profession, marital status, sex, age, spouse's name, father's name and rank or profession, and mother's name and maiden name; and the signature, relationship, and residence of the informant. Civil registration death records cover most of the population and are indexed countrywide. Use the general index to identify and obtain a copy of a death certificate.

Accessing the records

For information on accessing civil registration death records and indexes, see the article on Scotland Civil Registration.

Census: Census

A census is a count and description of the population. Government census records were taken every ten years starting in 1841. The 1841 through 1911 censuses are currently available. They are especially valuable because they list the majority of the population and are available at many repositories. In these records you may find names of the members of a household, and each person's age, gender, marital status, relationship to the head of the household, occupation, address, and place of birth. Census records can provide clues that may lead you to other records. They are well indexed.

Accessing the records

For information on accessing the census records and indexes, see the article on Scotland Census.

Church of Scotland: Church records

Church records are the christenings or baptisms, marriages, and burials recorded in registers by church officials at the time of an event. Death or burial records usually give only the name of the deceased and the date of burial. Sometimes the date of death and the deceased's age, residence, and parent or spouse's name may be given. A widow's burial record may give her maiden name. Church of Scotland parish registers are often missing burial records. Sometimes mortcloth dues (a fee paid for use of a funeral cloth) were recorded instead of burials.

Monumental Inscriptions: Cemeteries

Many parishes do not have surviving burials records.  Many did not record burials in the first place. Monumental or gravestone inscriptions may be a substitute.

Transcriptions of monumental inscriptions are available for many parishes.  The Family History Library has many transcriptions in booklet or microform.  Look in the FamilySearch Catalog for your place of interest and the topic of Cemeteries.  The place could be a parish or a county.  If the place is something else, such as a town or village, you should search for the place in a gazetteer to determine the parish and county it is a part of.  For more information, go to the article on Scotland Gazetteers.

If the Family History Library does not have transcriptions of monumental inscriptions for your place of interest, you may wish to contact the family history society for the area in Scotland where the place is located.  The society may have made a transcription of the monumental inscriptions for your parish or they may have someone who would be willing to visit the cemetery for you if you are not able. For more information, go to the articles on Scotland Cemeteries and Scotland Societies.

Beginning in the early 19th century, larger towns established non-denominational or municipal cemeteries in which anyone could be buried. Some transcriptions of monumetal inscriptions have been made for these cemeteries also. If they are available at the Family History Library, they will be listed in the catalog in the same manner as above. Some may be available only at archives in Scotland. For a list of archives with their contact information, look in the directory of the Scottish Archives Network.

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