Trace your family tree

Official records

The Central Library has the following records that can help you with family history searches.

Old parish records

Visit the Edinburgh and Scottish Collection for most of the Church of Scotland's old parish records from 1600 until 1855 covering

  • baptisms
  • marriages
  • burials.

Baptism records give you the parents' names and the date they were baptised. Marriages records will give the names of the couple and their father's names. Not many burial records have been kept.

The Edinburgh and Scottish Collection also holds an index to births, marriages and deaths for England and Wales from 1837 to 2002.

Census records

The Edinburgh and Scottish Collection has many Scottish census records from 1841 to 1901. The 1881 census covering Scotland, England and Wales is available in the Reference Library.

For all the people who were in a house when the census was taken, it gives you their

  • names
  • ages
  • jobs
  • places of birth.

Electoral registers

Go to the Edinburgh and Scottish Collection to see Edinburgh's electoral rolls from 1832 to date.

These list people who could vote and are organised by street. They can help you find out how long someone stayed at an address and the early ones tell you what their job was. Not everyone is in the electoral register as it wasn't until 1929 that most people over the age of 21 were allowed to vote.  

The National Library of Scotland holds electoral registers from all over Scotland and the British Library has electoral registers for all the UK.

Valuation rolls

The Edinburgh and Scottish Collection holds valuation rolls for

  • Edinburgh, 1914 to date
  • East Lothian, 1899 to 2001
  • West Lothian, 1922 to 2001
  • Midlothian, 1907 to 2001

From valuation rolls you can find out a property's

  • owner and their job
  • tenant and their job
  • value.

You can work out the social status of a family and how long they stayed at an address.

The National Archives of Scotland website has valuation rolls for all of Scotland.

Legal documents

If your ancestor owned land in Scotland in the 17th and 18th centuries, visit the Edinburgh and Scottish Collection and look at the Sasines index. A sasine is a document that records the transfer of ownership of land or a building. 

The Indexes to the Service of Heirs 1700 to 1969 gives the relationship of the heir to the previous holder and place and date of death.

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