Scotland Counties

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Pre-1974 counties of Scotland
Post-1974 Scotland counties

County changes made in 1974

In 1974 the British government reorganized the counties of Scotland. Twelve areas called regions were created from the original thirty-three counties.

These changes should not seriously affect genealogical research, but be aware of the following issues:

  • Current maps show the new boundaries.
  • Current addresses are located in the new counties. The addresses use the current county structure.
  • If you are looking for a parish, city, or regional office that houses records, you will need to know the current address and the areas covered by the repository.

However, you should still use the pre-1974 county name when you start your genealogical research.  For a list of the pre-1974 counties, with links to their Wiki article pages, see below.

Use of the suffix 'shire'

'Shire' is an old Anglo-Saxon word designating a county or district, which was integrated into Scotland by the English. A shire was policed by a 'shire reeve' or sheriff.

The word 'shire' is usually used on the end of a county name when there is a parish or city (burgh) of the same name within the county, such as the city or burgh of Aberdeen in Aberdeenshire. When referring to 'the county of Aberdeen', you do not use 'shire' on the end of the name as that would be redundant.

One exception worth noting is that of Fife, which has never actually been a county in the true sense of the word, but anciently was a kingdom. It is still referred to as "the Kingdom of Fife" and should not at any time be given the -shire suffix.

Alternate names

Long before the 1974 reorganization, some counties had alternate names by which they were at times known. These include Edinburghshire or Midlothian, Elginshire or Moray, Forfarshire or Angus, Haddingtonshire or East Lothian, and Linlithgowshire or West Lothian.

County list

Here is a list of the old counties with the new (post-1974) county or counties they are primarily a part of. Click on an old county name to see a list of historic parishes with further links to information on parish records, which information comes from the Scotland Church Records Union List.

Old County New County
Aberdeenshire Grampian
Angus (or Forfarshire) Tayside
Argyll Strathclyde
Ayrshire Strathclyde
Banffshire Grampian
Berwickshire Borders
Bute Strathclyde
Caithness Highland
Clackmannanshire Central
Dumfries-shire Dumfries & Galloway
Dunbartonshire Strathclyde
East Lothian (or Haddingtonshire) Lothian
Edinburghshire (see Midlothian) Lothian
Elginshire (see Moray) Grampian
Fife Fife
Forfarshire (see Angus) Tayside
Haddingtonshire (see East Lothian) Lothian
Inverness-shire Highland
Kincardineshire Grampian
Kinross-shire Tayside
Kircudbrightshire Dumfries & Galloway
Lanarkshire Strathclyde
Linlithgowshire (see West Lothian) Lothian
Midlothian (or Edinburghshire) Lothian
Moray (or Elginshire) Grampian
Nairnshire Highland
Orkney Orkney
Peebles-shire Borders
Perthshire Tayside, Central
Renfrewshire Strathclyde
Ross & Cromarty Highland
Roxburghshire Borders
Selkirkshire Borders
Stirlingshire Central
Sutherland Highland
West Lothian (or Linlithgowshire) Lothian
Wigtonshire Dumfries & Galloway
Shetland (or Zetland) Shetland

[Return to the Scotland Portal page.]

Parishes in each county

The Parish List for Scotland shows all of the parishes in alphabetical order, giving the parish number, county in which it is situated, and the date when the Old Parochical Records (Presbyterian Church records) began.  You may also see maps of Scotland through this link.