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-four 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.
You should still begin with the pre-1974 county name when you start your genealogical research.
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.
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.
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.
|Old County||New County|
|Angus (or Forfarshire)||Tayside|
|Dumfries-shire||Dumfries & Galloway|
|East Lothian (or Haddingtonshire)||Lothian|
|Edinburghshire (see Midlothian)||Lothian|
|Elginshire (see Moray)||Grampian|
|Forfarshire (see Angus)||Tayside|
|Haddingtonshire (see East Lothian)||Lothian|
|Kircudbrightshire||Dumfries & Galloway|
|Linlithgowshire (see West Lothian)||Lothian|
|Midlothian (or Edinburghshire)||Lothian|
|Moray (or Elginshire)||Grampian|
|Ross & Cromarty||Highland|
|West Lothian (or Linlithgowshire)||Lothian|
|Wigtonshire||Dumfries & Galloway|
|Shetland (or Zetland)||Shetland|
Parishes in each county
The Parish List for Scotlandshows 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.