Scotland Deeds

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Register of Deeds

The Register of Deeds is another type of land record. In the strictest sense of the word, the register of deeds was used to preserve any legal, written agreement. In addition to land transactions, you will find marriage contracts, contracts of partnership, contracts of sale, bonds, and so forth.

If a land transaction was recorded with a deed, you should also find a reference to the transaction in Sasine records.

Before 1532, deeds are scattered through the Notarial Protocol books. In 1532 when the Court of Session was established, the deeds were recorded in the session and the register was called Acta’ Dominorum Concilii et Sessionis. In 1542 it was changed to the Acts and Decreets, which covers up to the year 1581.

The National Archives of Scotland (NAS) holds the actual Register of Deeds cataloged under "RD" which stands for Register of deeds. RD1 begins in 1554, but deed transactions were not regularly recorded until 1661.

The 1554 register was kept in three series: 

  • The first series goes from 1554 to 1660 and is indexed from 1555 to 1595 NAS RD1 catalog  

The Family History Library has minute books (brief extracts of originals) that begin on 1542 and go to 1660. You can use these extracts instead of indexes. These extracts are on 28 microfilms beginning with FHL Film # 231790

The second series, from 1661 to 1811, has three sections: Durie, Dalrymple, and Mackenzie. (These are the names of the officer that kept the registers.) You will need to search all three sections.

The Scottish Record Office has the original records and available indexes. The Family History Library has:

  • Printed indexes from 1661 to 1696 (36 volumes). FHL call number begins with 941 B4sp no.1, they are also on microfilm with the first number being FHL # 896590 Item 3.
  • Copies of manuscript indexes from 1770 to 1811, granters (grantors) only. Beginning FHL # 231807
  • Minute books from 1661 to 1770 for the Mackenzie section and from 1661 to 1772 for Durie and Dalrymple. These films are listed within the list of Register of deeds beginning with Film # 231790, search through the list to locate Mackenzie, Durie or Dalrymple.

The third series is from 1812 onward. Manuscript indexes are available for the whole period. The indexes, the original records, and minute books are available at the Scottish Record Office. The Family History Library has indexes from 1812 to 1851 on microfilm.

To find deed records at the Family History Library, look in the Locality Search of the Family History Library Catalog under SCOTLAND, LAND AND PROPERTY. The following book also lists film numbers:

Sasines, Services of Heirs, and Deeds Register. (FHL book 941 R2ss; fiche 6054478.)

You will also find deeds recorded in sheriff courts, commissary courts, and burgh records. Many of these have been deposited in the Scottish Record Office. Most are not indexed, so you will have to search them year by year.

An excellent guide to these records is produced by the National Archives of Scotland and can be found at: *