National Archives of Scotland
Another colossal effort to digitize and index Scottish historical records is spearheaded by the National Archives of Scotland (NAS). Of primary importance is the project known as the Scottish Archive Network (SCAN); in all, 520,000 surviving wills, dated 1500-1901, have been scanned and preserved in a fully searchable database. You can search the index and view the images at no charge on the National Archives of Scotland site. To download the images to your computer, purchase them on the SCAN website.
The following other types of records are held by the NAS:
- Non-conformist church records – these are non-Church of Scotland records that involve members of the Episcopal Church, Free Church, Methodist Church, etc.
- Kirk session records of Church of Scotland – the minutes of the meetings of the Kirk Sessions in each parish may contain references to cases of illegitimacy, paternity disputes, sexual dalliances, church donations, and more juicy trivia you just won’t find anywhere else. These records also are a good source for death dates, should other sources not be available; parishioners commonly rented from the church a mortcloth, used to drape the casket for a funeral, and the church’s accounting records will reflect the mortcloth rental if there was one.
- Court records – the scope of these records includes cases before the criminal courts, debt courts, and even liquor licenses
- Sasine records – sasine records document the transfer of land ownership by grant, inheritance or sale. The date range of records held by the NAS is 1617-present.
- Register of Deeds – includes marriage contracts
- Services of Heirs – includes records of inheritances
- Estate records – these records include rent rolls and lease agreements
- Valuation rolls – in addition to land valuations made for property tax assessment purposes, these records commonly include owner and tenant/occupant information. The date range of records held by the NAS is 1855-1989.
- Roman Catholic registers – while originals are held by the relevant diocese or parish, the NAS holds copies of these records.