August 29, 2016  
Family History  
Family History

There are tremendous resources available at the Scottish Catholic Archives for conducting research into your Scottish Catholic family history. We hope that the resources here will assist you in your search.

Scottish Catholic Family and Getting Started 
Guide to the records 
What is available and how do you access them? 
Family history forum



Research into Scottish Catholic family history is no different to any other family research in Scotland. There are slightly different sources available and different ways to access them. We will bring further guidance on this including interpretative resources for record types, and latin translation tools.


Catholic Parish Registers comprise records of births and baptisms; marriages; confirmations; deaths and burials; communicants; sick calls; status animarum; converts; first confessions and sent rents.  The records cover all Scottish parishes in existence by 1855 – before the introduction of civil registration; the records of the main Catholic cemeteries in Edinburgh and Glasgow and the records of the RC Bishopric of the Forces, which records all sacramental events for British service men and women serving in the armed forces worldwide.

Under the provisions of Church Law, all faithful are to have sacramental information recorded in the registers of the parish. Record format and content varied over time, with the responsibility for the information gathered being placed with the parish priest - since there was no standard format prescribed, record keeping varied enormously from parish to parish and also from year to year. As a result, the information may be sparse, unreliable and difficult to read.

Approximately 700 registers have survived, the earliest dating from 1703, but most records only begin in the 30 years following the relaxation of legislation against Catholics in the 1790s.


  • Births and baptisms
  • Deaths, burials and funerals
  • Marriages, proclamations and dispensations
  • Confirmations and communicants
  • Confessions, converts and receptions
  • Status Animarum, seat rents and sick calls
  • Lair registers
  • Latin forenames glossary


The Scottish Catholic Archives holds parish registers for all Scottish parishes founded before 1855 in addition to some records after then. The registers have been indexed and are available to researchers via the Scotland's People web site .  Researcher are also welcome to visit the Archive and conduct their own research. A limited searches can be made of the registers held at Columba House, but requests must be very specific. There is a fee for searches conducted by staff and only payments made in Stirling will be accepted.


This website includes a Family History Forum  for users to post enquiries of their own and to discuss any relevant research issues. To participate in this, use the 'Register' link at the top of the page, which will gve greater functionality to the forum and allow queries and responses to be posted.


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