|Scotland Wiki Topics|
|Local Research Resources|
- People of Medieval Scotland 1093-1314
- ElectricScotland: The Scots Peerage
- Wikipedia: The Scots Peerage
- Wikipedia: Burke's Peerage
- Burke's Peerage Baronetage and Knightage - 1881 ($)
- Burke’s Family Records (Indexed) ($)
The nobility is a class of people who had special political and social status. Nobility is inherited or granted by the crown as a reward to persons who perform a heroic deed, have a notable achievement, or hold a prominent government position. The noble class forms less than five percent of Scotland’s population.
British nobility has a well-defined order. The highest noblemen are Peers which include the titles (in descending rank):
This is followed by the gentry, Whose titles are:
Both peers and gentry are entitled to bear coats of arms. Younger sons had the right to use the father’s coat of arms altered with cadency, a mark showing birth order.
Scotland limited the growth of the noble class. The eldest son inherits the father’s title, and younger sons may or may not have lesser titles. When a nobleman dies without sons, the title lapses unless the crown awards the title to a daughter’s husband.
Most family traditions of having a noble ancestor are not true since most noblemen did not emigrate. Contrary to popular belief, few nobles were disowned by family members for unacceptable behavior. Thus, most traditions of an ancestor being "erased" or "eliminated" from all records are unfounded.
Illegitimate children were not entitled to noble status and are often not shown in family pedigrees. They may, however, have been granted a title and variation of the father’s coat of arms.
The records of peerage creations and related documents are kept at the Lyon Office (see Scotland Heraldry).
Accessing the Records
There are many original records for noble families. These documents often are not available to the public, but you can accomplish most nobility research in secondary sources.
Noblemen were anxious to preserve their identity. Therefore, many kept records of their ancestry, some of which have been published. A number of published family histories also contain information about Scottish nobility. Many of these family histories are available at the Family History Library. Use the Surname Search of the FamilySearch Catalog to find references to these family histories. Some have been digitized made available online, but most are only available in book form at the Library.
Another source for information on Scottish families is:
- Paul, Sir James Balfour, ed.The Scots Peerage, 9 vols. Edinburgh, Scotland: David Douglas 1904. (Family History Library book 941 D22p). This book has been digitized.
The Scots Peerage
The Scots Peerage is a book series (nine volumes) of the Scottish nobility published from 1904 to 1914. It is a comprehensive history of the Scottish peerage. All of the volumes have been digitized and made available online.
- Wikipedia: The Scots Peerage Online Volumes - contains links to the online volumes (on Internet Archive)
- ElectricScotland: The Scots Peerage - contains links to the online volumes (in pdf form)
Burke's Peerage was established in London in 1826 as the "definitive guide to the genealogy and heraldry of the Peerage, Baronetage, Knightage and Landed Gentry of the United Kingdom." While some of these books can only be accessed in print, many have been digitized and are available online.
- Wikipedia: Burke's Peerage Online Editions - contains links to the online volumes (on Hathitrust)
- Burke's Peerage and Baronetage Genealogical and Heraldic Dictionary, Vol 2 ($) index and images
- Burke’s Family Records (Indexed) ($) index and images
- Burke's Peerage Baronetage and Knightage - 1881 ($) images
- Burke's Peerage Search (index free, but subscription needed to view image)
The Family History Library also has some of these books, although they are only available in print. To find the film numbers, look in the Keyword Search of the FamilySearch Catalog under:
- BURKE'S PEERAGE
The Family History Library has many records of noble families other than family histories. To find these, use the Place Search of the FamilySearch Catalog and search:
- SCOTLAND - NOBILITY
- SCOTLAND, [COUNTY] - NOBILITY
- SCOTLAND - GENEALOGY
- GREAT BRITAIN - NOBILITY
- Wikipedia contributors, "The Scots Peerage," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Scots_Peerage, accessed 2 August 2018.
- Burke's Peerage, "Burke's Peerage," 2018, www.burkespeerage.com, accessed 2 August 2018.