Monday, 26 July 2010

Ancestry releases major Scottish collections

Here's some good news I've been wanting to share for a very long while - at last, here goes...!

Ancestry ( has now released several major Scottish records collections on its site, in the most significant specifically Scottish release since it uploaded the census transcripts a couple of years back.

The following collections are now available:

1) The 1766 and 1773 Surveys of Inhabitants of Perth (the burgh, not the county) - a census essentially from the two years in question - there's a free index for non-subscribers, and digitised images of the original handwritten entries for those with subscriptions can be viewed.

2) The Register of Deeds for Perth 1566-1811 (The first major digitised set of such registers from Scotland to go online). These are name and year searchable, but can also be browsed by volume. They are some of the most useful documents for the burgh of Perth, but bear in mind that the records in the earlier registers are written in the old form of Secretary's Hand. If you do not understand this style - it is very different to modern handwriting - visit the Scottish Handwriting website at for useful tutorials. Deeds were agreements between two individuals voluntarily registered in a court to prevent against fraudulent claims. The registers contain records of bonds (IOUs), sales contracts, receipts, charters, protests (a demand for a monetary payment with penalties for non payment outlined), dispositions, and other documents.

3) Fasti Ecclesiae Scoticanae - biographies on every Church of Scotland minister from 1560-1866 for the synods of Glasgow, Ayr, Lothian and Tweedale, Aberdeen, Angus and Mearns, Argyll, Glenalg, Moray, Ross, Sutherland and Caithness, Orkney, Zetland (Shetland), Fife, Perth, Stirling, Merse and Teviotdale, Dumfries and Galloway.

4) The Register of the Great Seal of Scotland 1306-1651 - in Latin, but usually quite easy to work through, and from the printed volumes created from 1882-1914. The register records charters granted under the Great Seal.

5) The Register of the Privy Council of Scotland 1545-1632 - again, in Latin, and from the printed volumes created from 1882-1914. From Wikipedia - The council's "registers include a wide range of material on the political, administrative, economic and social affairs of Scotland. The council supervised the administration of the law, regulated trade and shipping, took emergency measures against the plague, granted licences to travel, administered oaths of allegiance, banished beggars and Gypsies, dealt with witches, recusants, Covenanters and Jacobites and tackled the problem of lawlessness in the Highlands and the Borders."

There is also more to come, and don't forget that Ancestry recently released the 1802 Militia Act Survey results from Perth and the Perthshire school registers collections. Bottom line, if you haven't yet got an Ancestry subscription, now may very well be the time to sign up!

Ancestry has also very kindly invited me to write a guest blog post on the release, which I believe will be going online imminently at I actually witnessed these records being digitised, and I hope you'll read the piece to hear about a man who was instrumental in their production - a man called Ken!

More soon...

A. K. Bell Library, Perth

Professional genealogical problem solving and research
Researching Scottish Family History (New book)

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