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General Searches for Genealogy Purposes by Members of the Public
What records are available?
Registrars provide ancestry research services in designated offices throughout Highland, using the statutory registers of births, deaths & marriages, as well as computerised access to all Scotland's records by means of ScotlandsPeople which includes the Old Parish Registers 1553-1854 and Census Records from 1841 up to 1911. (A census is undertaken every 10 years.)
In Scotland compulsory civil registration of births, deaths and marriages commenced on 1 January 1855. Prior to 1855, the recording of births and marriages was largely in the hands of Church of Scotland Clerks. There are no Parish Records available for Deaths. It should be remembered that in 19th century Scotland over a third of the population were not members of the Church of Scotland, but belonged to other churches.
Conducting a Search
The offices where this service is available are Inverness, Dingwall, Portree, Fort William, Thurso and Wick. Registration staff assist with all ancestry research enquiries and although not always necessary, it is helpful to book an appointment in advance. Alternatively we can provide a postal search at the rates quoted below.
The current general search fee, per hour or part thereof, where access is restricted to the local registers, is £15. Where a search also involves the use of ScotlandsPeople the fee is £30. Extracts of specific entries are available on payment of the document fee, alternatively you may make notes of the information contained in the relevant entries. Paper prints of historical entries, i.e. births over 100 years old, deaths over 50 and marriages over 75, are for genealogical purposes.
Copies of historical register entries can also be obtained online from ScotlandsPeople, the official government source of genealogical data in Scotland. (See 'External Links' opposite.)
It is always better to work backwards from the known to the unknown. So you should start with a family member whose place and date of birth, death or marriage is already known to you. This event should, of course, have taken place in Scotland and may be as recent as your own birth or your parents' marriage. It should then be relatively simple to trace a line back one hundred and fifty years to the beginning of statutory registration.