Fiona's Finding Service Scotland
Searches all Edinburgh sources, including many not available online
What is on the certificates
Scottish birth, marriage and death certificates contain more genealogical information than is found elsewhere in the world.
The full information is only available on the actual certificate. You will not find all this information on any index, including the LDS's IGI. This source is a useful index telling you where to find the full information. You then need to find out what is on the complete certificate.
Births and baptisms
Birth certificates from 1855 show:
● Child's full name and sex
● Date, time and place of birth
● Parents' full names, father's occupation, mother's maiden name
● Date and place of parents' marriage (not betwen 1856 & 1860, and not always accurate)
However, the Old Parish records from before 1855 may only show the child's and parents' names, date of baptism (not always date of birth), parish of residence and whether the parents were married (but not where or when). Some give the village (in rural areas) and/or the father's occupation. Some give the names of two witnesses. If the parents did not belong to the Church of Scotland, they may not have had the births registered. The registers of other denominations exist, but are incomplete, i.e. they were not all preserved.
Marriages, banns and marriage contracts
Marriage certificates from 1855 show:
● Date and place of marriage, and religion for a church wedding
● Full name, occupation, age and address of bride and groom
● Parents' full names, fathers' occupations, mothers' maiden names (usually accurate, but don't count on it)
However, the Old Parish records from before 1855 may only show the date and the names of the bride and groom (and sometimes the two witnesses), with only their parish to identify them. Sometimes the husband's occupation and/or the name of the bride's father are given. Some give the village (in rural areas) or the street address (in cities). If they have common names, it might not be possible to identify who their parents were. (Even uncommon names may not be unique amongst cousins). If the couple did not belong to the Church of Scotland, they may not have had the marriage registered. The registers of other denominations exist, but are incomplete.
Affluent families may have had a marriage settlement - a separate legal document setting out financial provisions. This may give much useful information apart from the names of the parents, such as who was to inherit the bride's dowry if she died childless. These are a very useful source of information, which you will not find online or from any LDS source. Unfortunately, they were not always filed at a Court. This might happen after the husband's death if he died first and the widow wanted to claim her inheritance, or after the wife's death if her property was to go to somebody other than the widower if she died first. If these exist, there will be a record in Edinburgh of the deed being registered.
Some affluent families may have had marriages or engagements announced in the newspaper, giving more details about the parents of the couple than are shown in the Register.
Deaths and burials
Death certificates from 1855 show:
● Full name and occupation of the deceased
● Details of marriage (if any, not always accurate)
● Date and place of death, and usual home address (if different)
● Age at death (not always accurate)
● Cause of death
● Parents' full names, father's occupation, mother's maiden name (not always accurate - not always known to the informant).
However, the Old Parish burial records from before 1855 are rare, and may only show at most the name, date of death and estimated age, and possibly cause of death and/or address. With common names, it may not be possible to tell which was which, even knowing the approximate age. Those who died away from home may not have been recorded at all. Some record only the name of the next-of-kin who paid the bill for the funeral. For infant mortalities, it is common only to have the name of a parent (e.g. Mary Brown's child).
Affluent families may have had a notice in a newspaper, or even an obituary. The date of death may also be found from when a will was executed, or when property changed hands on inheritance. Land transfers are not difficult to trace, given the approximate decade and county.
Census returns for 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891 and 1901 show (listed by street address), the members of each household, with names, ages, relationships, occupations and birth parishes. The 1841 Census shows the occupants and approximate ages, but not relationships or birth parishes.