National Records of Scotland

Last updated

National Records of Scotland
Scottish Gaelic: Clàran Nàiseanta na h-Alba
National Records of Scotland logo.svg
Non-ministerial government department overview
Formed1 April 2011 (2011-04-01)
Preceding agencies
Jurisdiction Scotland
HeadquartersHM General Register House, 2 Princes Street, Edinburgh EH1 3YY
Employees430
Minister responsible
Non-ministerial government department executive
  • Paul Lowe, Keeper of the Records / Registrar General
Website www.nrscotland.gov.uk

National Records of Scotland (Scottish Gaelic : Clàran Nàiseanta na h-Alba) is a non-ministerial department of the Scottish Government. It is responsible for civil registration, the census in Scotland, demography and statistics, family history, as well as the national archives and historical records. [1]

Contents

National Records of Scotland was formed from the merger of the General Register Office for Scotland and the National Archives of Scotland in 2011; it combines all the functions of the two former organisations. [2] The offices of Registrar General for Scotland and Keeper of the Records of Scotland remain separate, but since 2011 both have been vested ex officio in the Chief Executive of National Records of Scotland, currently Paul Lowe. [3]

Location

View of Register House from North Bridge, looking across Princes Street. HM General Register House, Edinburgh (geograph 2869117).jpg
View of Register House from North Bridge, looking across Princes Street.

National Records of Scotland is based in HM General Register House on Princes Street in the New Town in Edinburgh. The building was designed by Robert Adam for the Register House Trustees; it was opened to the public in 1788.

History

The first official tasked with the care and administration of the public records was first recorded in the role of Clericus Rotulorum (Clerk of the Rolls) in the Kingdom of Scotland in 1286. [4] Registers, rolls and records were kept in Edinburgh Castle from about the 13th century. [5] The role of the Clerk of the Rolls eventually became known as the Lord Clerk Register, the oldest surviving great offices of state in Scotland. [6] However, records held by the Scottish Crown did not typically include personal data such as birth, death and marriage records. Instead, the clergy and other officials of the Church of Scotland kept parish records, which recorded personal data such as baptisms and marriages, but only for their own church members so parish records were limited in scope. In 1551, a council of Scottish clergy enacted that all parish ministers should keep a record of baptisms, burials and marriages. [7] However, in 1801, the first national Census found that, out of the 850 parishes in Scotland, not more than 99 had regular registers. [8] This was in part due to sporadic recording keeping and accidental destruction of registers. [9]

In 1806, a Royal Warrant established the office of Deputy Clerk Register, [10] effectively reducing the record keeping duties of the Lord Clerk Register to an honorary title with no day-to-day management of the Registers and Records of Scotland. However, personal data continued to be managed by the clergy, now largely ministers of the Church of Scotland. The Industrial revolution radically changed the population demographics of Scotland, with central belt parishes being swamped by migrants from the Highlands and Lowlands which also contributed to the poor record keeping in registers. [11] A bill came before the United Kingdom Parliament in 1829 and several others in subsequent years to introduce a system of state registration, following the similar introduction of public registration in England & Wales in 1837, but the bills were unsuccessful. [12] One of the main reasons they were unsuccessful was the opposition, including the Church of Scotland, to attempts in the bills to reform the Scots laws of marriage, which had historically been very informal as The Scotsman newspaper describes:

"Everybody knows that, by the law of Scotland, the marriage ceremony can be performed with as perfect legal effect by a blacksmith as by a clergyman" [13]

However, the proposals for reform were dropped and in 1854, [14] the Deputy Clerk Register's duties were also extended to the care of the records of births, deaths and marriages in the role of Registrar General under the Registration of Births, Deaths and Marriages (Scotland) Act 1854, which established the General Registry Office of Births, Deaths and Marriages. The 1854 Act also provided that the Registrar General should produce an annual report to be forwarded to the Home Secretary to be laid before Parliament, containing a general abstract of the numbers of births, deaths and marriages registered during the previous year. The first general abstract (relating to 1855) was submitted in 1856. By the time of his first annual detailed report, published in 1861, the first Registrar General for Scotland, William Pitt Dundas, claimed that: "there is good reason for believing that very few births indeed now escape registration." [15]

In 1855 and 1860, two further Acts, the Registration (Scotland) Act, 1855 (18 & 19 Vict., c.29) and the Registration (Scotland, Amendment) Act, 1860 (23 & 24 Vict., c.85), were passed which amended some of the sections of the 1854 Act. The 1854 Act had placed considerable burdens on the sheriffs of the Scottish counties, who had already played a role in the taking of decennial censuses. The amending Acts reduced their responsibilities by appointing registration district examiners to inspect the registers. They also made revised provision for the transmission of the parochial registers up to the year 1820 to the General Register Office Scotland (GROS), and the registers for the years 1820–1855 to the custody of the local registrars. These registers were to be retained by the local registrars for 30 years, after which they were to be sent to the GROS. [15]

In 1879, The Lord Clerk Register (Scotland) Act 1879 further provided that the office of Lord Clerk Register would remain as a ceremonial Great Officer of State, [16] with all record keeping duties passing to the Deputy Clerk Register. [17] In 1909 by Sir James Patten McDougall was appointed as Deputy Clerk Register, the last holder of the combined offices of Registrar General and Deputy Lord Clerk Register. [18] The Registrar General (Scotland) Act 1920 provided for the appointment by the Secretary of State for Scotland of a full-time Registrar General, separate from the Deputy Clerk Register. [19] The recording of personal data was in effect severed from the Deputy Clerk Register, who continued to maintain the records and registers of Scotland. [20] Dr James Crawford Dunlop, who had served as medical superintendent of statistics since 1904, held the office of Registrar General from 1921 to 1930. The 12 subsequent Registrars General were drawn from the civil service in Scotland and headed the General Register Office for Scotland independently from the Deputy Clerk Register. [21]

In 1928, the office of Deputy Clerk Register itself was abolished by the Reorganisation of Offices (Scotland) Act 1928, becoming the Keeper of the Registers and Records of Scotland. However, it came to be recognised that the keeping of records and the keeping of registers was too cumbersome a task to be entrusted to a single department. [22] In 1948, the Public Registers and Records (Scotland) Act 1948 provided that the Registers of Scotland and Records of Scotland were to be split into two separate government organisations with two separate officials: (1) the Keeper of the Registers of Scotland and (2) the Keeper of the Records of Scotland. The Keeper of the Registers of Scotland was given the duties to maintain and preserve the General Register of Sasines, the Register of Hornings, the Register of Inhibitions and Adjudications, the Register of Deeds and other chancery and judicial registers. [23] The Keeper of the Records of Scotland, was given the duties to preserve the public registers, records and rolls of Scotland. [24]

From 1949, the Keeper of the Registers headed the Department of the Registers of Scotland. The Keeper of the Records of Scotland headed the Records Office, later called the National Archives of Scotland. This left three departments and their respective officials managed the following:

Recent mergers

The current body (NRS) was created on 1 April 2011 by the merger of the General Register Office for Scotland and National Archives of Scotland and is a Non-ministerial office of the Scottish Government. NRS is one of the National Collections of Scotland and falls with the ministerial portfolio of the Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Fair Work and Culture. [25] The Registers of Scotland remain a separate organisation and fall within the ministerial portfolio of the Cabinet Secretary for Finance.

Services and collections

NRS supports research in a number of ways, through guides, websites and training. [26] The Scotland's People website, the official Scottish Government site for searching government records and archives, is maintained by NRS in partnership with the Court of the Lord Lyon. [27] NRS provides training in palaeography, the study of historical writing such as secretary hand, which is necessary to read some of its records; it maintains training material on its Scottish Handwriting site. [28] [29] [30]

The NRS collects and publishes Scottish statistics and data relating to registers, notably deaths involving coronavirus (COVID-19) in Scotland, [31] the source for data provided on the Scottish Government's COVID-19 dashboard. [32] [33] It also publishes statistics about first names given to babies in Scotland since 1998. [34]

NRS maintains the Scottish Register of Tartans. [35]

It aims to be a leader in archival practice and acts a source of guidance to records managers and archivists in Scotland. [36]

The NRS Web Continuity Service [37] launched on 20 November 2017. A web archive of sites belonging to organisations who deposit records with NRS, the service ensures that previous versions of pages and files can be accessed, while being clearly distinguishable from live content. [38]

Related Research Articles

A birth certificate is a vital record that documents the birth of a person. The term "birth certificate" can refer to either the original document certifying the circumstances of the birth or to a certified copy of or representation of the ensuing registration of that birth. Depending on the jurisdiction, a record of birth might or might not contain verification of the event by such as a midwife or doctor.

Companies House is the United Kingdom's registrar of companies and is an executive agency of Her Majesty's Government, falling under the remit of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. All forms of companies are incorporated and registered with Companies House and file specific details as required by legislation. All registered limited companies, including subsidiary, small and inactive companies, must file annual financial statements in addition to annual company returns, and all these are public records. Only some registered unlimited companies are exempt from this requirement.

The General Register Office for England and Wales (GRO) is the section of the United Kingdom HM Passport Office responsible for the civil registration of births, adoptions, marriages, civil partnerships and deaths in England and Wales and for those same events outside the UK if they involve a UK citizen and qualify to be registered in various miscellaneous registers. With a small number of historic exceptions involving military personnel, it does not deal with records of such events occurring within the land or territorial waters of Scotland, Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland; those entities' registration systems have always been separate from England and Wales.

The office of Lord Clerk Register is the oldest surviving Great Officer of State in Scotland, with origins in the 13th century. It historically had important functions in relation to the maintenance and care of the public records of Scotland. Today these duties are administered by the Keeper of the National Records of Scotland and the Keeper of the Registers of Scotland.

Great Seal of Scotland National seal of Scotland

The Great Seal of Scotland is a principal national symbol of Scotland that allows the monarch to authorise official documents without having to sign each document individually. Wax is melted in a metal mould or matrix and impressed into a wax figure that is attached by cord or ribbon to documents that the monarch wishes to make official. The earliest seal impression, in the Treasury of Durham Cathedral, is believed to be the Great Seal of Duncan II and dates to 1094.

General Register Office for Scotland Directorate of the Scottish Government

The General Register Office for Scotland (GROS) was a non-ministerial directorate of the Scottish Government that administered the registration of births, deaths, marriages, divorces and adoptions in Scotland from 1854 to 2011. It was also responsible for the statutes relating to the formalities of marriage and conduct of civil marriage in Scotland. It administered the census of Scotland's population every ten years. It also kept the Scottish National Health Service Central Register.

General Register Office Civil registries in Commonwealth-related nations

General Register Office or General Registry Office (GRO) is the name given to the civil registry in the United Kingdom, many other Commonwealth nations and Ireland. The GRO is the government agency responsible for the recording of vital records such as births, deaths, and marriages, which may also include adoptions, stillbirths, civil unions, etc., and historically, sometimes included records relating to deeds and other property transactions.

Demography of Scotland

The demography of Scotland includes all aspects of population, past and present, in the area that is now Scotland. Scotland has a population of 5,463,300, as of 2019. The population growth rate in 2011 was estimated as 0.6% per annum according to the 2011 GROS Annual Review.

A legal name is the name that identifies a person for legal, administrative and other official purposes. A person's first legal name generally is the name of the person that was given for the purpose of registration of the birth and which then appears on a birth certificate, but may change subsequently. Most jurisdictions require the use of a legal name for all legal and administrative purposes, and some jurisdictions permit or require a name change to be recorded at marriage. The legal name may need to be used on various government issued documents. The term is also used when an individual changes their first or full name, typically after reaching a certain legal age.

Registers of Scotland

Registers of Scotland (RoS) is the non-ministerial department of the Scottish Government responsible for compiling and maintaining records relating to property and other legal documents. They currently maintain 20 public registers. The official responsible with maintaining the Registers of Scotland is the Keeper of the Registers of Scotland. By ex officio, the Keeper of the Registers of Scotland is also the Deputy Keeper of the Great Seal of Scotland. The Keeper of the Registers of Scotland should not be confused with the Keeper of the Records of Scotland.

The National Archives of Scotland (NAS) is the previous name of the National Records of Scotland (NRS), and are the national archives of Scotland, based in Edinburgh. The NAS claims to have one of the most varied collection of archives in Europe. It is the main archive for sources of the history of Scotland as an independent state, her role in the British Isles and the links between Scotland and many other countries over the centuries.

Registration of Births, Deaths and Marriages (Scotland) Act 1965 United Kingdom legislation

The Registration of Births, Deaths and Marriages (Scotland) Act 1965, was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which amended the existing legislation controlling the registration system of births, deaths and marriages in Scotland founded in 1855. The Act set out the roles, responsibilities and functions of the Registrar General for Scotland, and the ability of the Registrar-General to appoint other Registrars. The Act also provides for a yearly report to be published by the Registrar-General delineating annual trends in Scotland's population - including estimated population size, birth rates, death rates and migration rates to be presented to Scottish Ministers.

The United Kingdom Census of 1841 recorded the occupants of every United Kingdom household on the night of Sunday 6 June 1841. The enactment of the Population Act 1840 meant a new procedure was adopted for taking the 1841 census. It was described as the "first modern census" as it was the first to record information about every member of the household, and administered as a single event, under central control, rather than being devolved to a local level. It formed the model for all subsequent UK censuses, although each went on to refine and expand the questions asked of householders.

A register office or The General Register Office, much more commonly but erroneously registry office, is a British government office where births, deaths, marriages, civil partnership, stillbirths and adoptions in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are registered. It is the licensed local of civil registry.

A marriage certificate is an official statement that two people are married. In most jurisdictions, a marriage certificate is issued by a government official only after the civil registration of the marriage.

The Scottish Register of Tartans (SRT) is Scotland's official non-ministerial department for the recording and registration of tartan designs, operating since 5 February 2009. As a governmental body, SRT is headquartered at HM General Register House in Edinburgh and is a division of the National Records of Scotland (NRS), formerly of the National Archives of Scotland (NAS) before its merger into NRS. SRT is the centralised agency for the recording of known historical tartans and for paid registration of new tartan designs, which must fulfill fairly stringent criteria. SRT subsumed this registration role from a variety of previous not-for-profit and commercial organisations, most now defunct. Since December 2018, the Keeper of the Scottish Register of Tartans is the head of the NRS. SRT's tartan database itself is also named the Scottish Register of Tartans. It is uncertain how large the database is, but it has absorbed records of at least 7,000 tartans from previous registries, in addition to accepting new entries from 2009 onward.

Court of the Lord Lyon Court which regulates heraldry in Scotland

The Court of the Lord Lyon is a standing court of law which regulates heraldry in Scotland. The Lyon Court maintains the register of grants of arms, known as the Public Register of All Arms and Bearings in Scotland, as well as records of genealogies.

Places of Worship Registration Act 1855 United Kingdom legislation

The Places of Worship Registration Act 1855 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom which governs the registration and legal recognition of places of worship. It applies only in England and Wales, and does not cover the Church of England which is exempt from the Act's requirements. Nor does it affect the Church in Wales, which remains part of the Anglican Communion although it is no longer the Established Church in Wales. Registration is not compulsory, but it gives certain financial advantages and is also required before a place of worship can be registered as a venue for marriages.

Civil ceremony Non-religious legal marriage ceremony

A civil, or registrar, ceremony is a non-religious legal marriage ceremony performed by a government official or functionary. In the United Kingdom, this person is typically called a registrar. In the United States, civil ceremonies may be performed by town, city, or county clerks, judges or justices of the peace, or others possessing the legal authority to support the marriage as the wedding officiant.

The Crown Office, also known as the Crown Office in Chancery, is a section of the Ministry of Justice. It has custody of the Great Seal of the Realm, and has certain administrative functions in connection with the courts and the judicial process, as well as functions relating to the electoral process for House of Commons elections, to the keeping of the Roll of the Peerage, and to the preparation of royal documents such as warrants required to pass under the royal sign-manual, fiats, letters patent, etc. In legal documents, the Crown Office refers to the office of the Clerk of the Crown in Chancery.

References

  1. "What we do". National Records of Scotland. Retrieved 2 October 2015.
  2. "National Records of Scotland" (Press release). Scottish Government. 11 April 2011. Retrieved 2 October 2015.
  3. "Corporate Governance". National Records of Scotland. 31 May 2013. Retrieved 9 March 2021.
  4. "Our history". Registers of Scotland. Retrieved 9 May 2020.
  5. "Our history". Registers of Scotland. Retrieved 9 May 2020.
  6. A L Murray 'The Lord Clerk Register' 53 Scot Hist Rev 2 No 156, pp 124–156 (October 1974)
  7. "Scotland's Population 2004: The Registrar General's Annual Review of Demographic Trends: 150th Edition". www.nrscotland.gov.uk. Retrieved 19 May 2020.
  8. "Scotland's Population 2004: The Registrar General's Annual Review of Demographic Trends: 150th Edition". www.nrscotland.gov.uk. Retrieved 19 May 2020.
  9. "Scotland's Population 2004: The Registrar General's Annual Review of Demographic Trends: 150th Edition". www.nrscotland.gov.uk. Retrieved 19 May 2020.
  10. Royal Warrant 1906: National Archives of Scotland C3/24, No 184.
  11. "Scotland's Population 2004: The Registrar General's Annual Review of Demographic Trends: 150th Edition". www.nrscotland.gov.uk. Retrieved 19 May 2020.
  12. "Scotland's Population 2004: The Registrar General's Annual Review of Demographic Trends: 150th Edition". www.nrscotland.gov.uk. Retrieved 19 May 2020.
  13. "Scotland's Population 2004: The Registrar General's Annual Review of Demographic Trends: 150th Edition". www.nrscotland.gov.uk. Retrieved 19 May 2020.
  14. "Scotland's Population 2004: The Registrar General's Annual Review of Demographic Trends: 150th Edition". www.nrscotland.gov.uk. Retrieved 19 May 2020.
  15. 1 2 Higgs, Edward, The development of the General Register Office (Scotland) Retrieved 26 March 2016
  16. Lord Clerk Register (Scotland) Act 1879 (c 44), ss 1, 2.
  17. Lord Clerk Register (Scotland) Act 1879 (c 44), section 6.
  18. "Scotland's Population 2004: The Registrar General's Annual Review of Demographic Trends: 150th Edition". www.nrscotland.gov.uk. Retrieved 19 May 2020.
  19. "Scotland's Population 2004: The Registrar General's Annual Review of Demographic Trends: 150th Edition". www.nrscotland.gov.uk. Retrieved 19 May 2020.
  20. "Registers of Scotland Manuals". rosdev.atlassian.net. Retrieved 19 May 2020.
  21. "Scotland's Population 2004: The Registrar General's Annual Review of Demographic Trends: 150th Edition". www.nrscotland.gov.uk. Retrieved 19 May 2020.
  22. Report by the Committee of the Scottish Records Advisory Council, July 1943 (National Archives of Scotland HH1/1832)
  23. Public Registers and Records (Scotland) Act 1948 s.1(2)
  24. Public Registers and Records (Scotland) Act 1948 s.1(3).
  25. "Cabinet Secretary for Economy Fair Work and Culture". Scottish Government. Retrieved 9 March 2021.
  26. Team, National Records of Scotland Web (31 May 2013). "National Records of Scotland". National Records of Scotland. Archived from the original on 13 October 2020. Retrieved 11 January 2021.
  27. "ScotlandsPeople". ScotlandsPeople. Archived from the original on 1 January 2021. Retrieved 11 January 2021.
  28. Scottish Handwriting
  29. Team, National Records of Scotland Web (31 May 2013). "National Records of Scotland". National Records of Scotland. Archived from the original on 4 May 2020. Retrieved 11 January 2021.
  30. "Scottish Handwriting home page". www.scottishhandwriting.com. Archived from the original on 1 April 2017. Retrieved 11 January 2021.
  31. Deaths involving coronavirus (COVID-19) in Scotland
  32. Team, National Records of Scotland Web (31 May 2013). "National Records of Scotland". National Records of Scotland. Archived from the original on 1 January 2020. Retrieved 11 January 2021.
  33. "COVID-19 in Scotland: Detailed Analysis. Deaths". The Scottish Government - data.gov.scot. 30 December 2020. Archived from the original on 1 January 2021. Retrieved 11 January 2021.
  34. "NRS: Baby Names". scotland.shinyapps.io. Archived from the original on 15 March 2021. Retrieved 25 March 2021.
  35. "The Scottish Register of Tartans". www.tartanregister.gov.uk. Archived from the original on 13 April 2020. Retrieved 11 January 2021.
  36. Team, National Records of Scotland Web (31 May 2013). "National Records of Scotland". National Records of Scotland. Archived from the original on 9 October 2020. Retrieved 11 January 2021.
  37. NRS Web Continuity Service
  38. Team, National Records of Scotland Web (31 May 2013). "NRS Web Continuity Service". National Records of Scotland. Archived from the original on 20 December 2020. Retrieved 11 January 2021.