National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future


Olivia and Jack are Scotland’s top baby names

Tuesday, 18 Dec 2018
Demograpghy News Release Image

National Records of Scotland reveals most popular names in 2018

Olivia and Jack were the most popular first forenames for babies whose births were registered in 2018, National Records of Scotland (NRS) announced today. Olivia was the top girls’ name for a third consecutive year; Jack has been the most popular boys’ name for eleven years running.

Emily remained the second most popular name for girls. Grace (up five places at eighth) was the only entrant to the girls’ Top Ten; Charlotte (down two places to eleventh) dropped out of it. There were two entrants to the girls’ Top Twenty: Eilidh (up two places to nineteenth) and Mia (up three places to twentieth).

The joint second most popular names for boys were Oliver (second in 2017) and James (up from third). Rory (which rose eight places to ninth) was the only entrant to the boys' Top Ten, while Harry (down two places to twelfth) dropped out of it. There were two entrants to the boys’ Top Twenty: Max (up five places to nineteenth) and Finn (up five places to twentieth).

The biggest climbers within the Top Fifties were:

  • Georgia (up thirteen places to 24th);
  • Rosie (up thirteen places to 27th);
  • Jaxon (up ten places to joint 33rd). 

Particularly fast-rising entrants to the Top Fifties were:

  • Mila (up sixteen places to 36th);
  • Ivy (up twenty places to joint 38th);
  • Hunter (up 38 places to 30th);
  • Arthur (up 43 places to 46th);
  • Luca (up 55 places to joint 47th);
  • Robert (up 17 places to 50th). 

NRS registered the births of 23,253 girls and 24,532 boys in the period covered by these figures. Parents chose 4,130 different first forenames for girls and 3,322 different first forenames for boys. In total, 2,635 girls and 2,085 boys were given first forenames that were unique. The numbers of different names, and of unique names, were well above the levels of 10 and, much more so, 40 years ago. For example, the number of boys with unique first forenames was greater this year (2,085 in the period covered by these figures) than in the whole of 2008 (1,932) and 1978 (843).


Among the top first forenames for girls, Isla, Sophie and Amelia remained third, fourth and fifth (respectively), Ella rose from eighth to sixth, Ava remained seventh, Aria was up one place at ninth, Jessica fell four places to tenth and Sophia was up four places at twelfth.

As for the most popular names for boys, Logan rose from fifth to fourth, Lewis was down one place at fifth, Leo climbed three places to sixth, two names were joint seventh (Alexander, which was up one place, and Harris, which remained seventh), Noah was down four places at tenth, Lucas rose five places to eleventh, and Thomas was up five places at fourteenth.

The Top Fifty girls’ first names accounted for 37% of all those registered, and the Top Fifty boys’ first names accounted for 39% of registrations. Olivia was the first name of just 1.8% of girls and Jack was the first name of only 1.6% of boys.

‘Babies’ First Names 2018’ is accompanied by lists of the Top Hundred first forenames for each sex for Scotland as a whole, and the Top Ten for each sex for each council area. 

The publication Babies' First Names 2018 and an Infographic are available on this website.


Life expectancy varies by as much as 7.2 years between council areas in Scotland

Wednesday, 12 Dec 2018
Demography News Release Image

Statistics published today by the National Records of Scotland indicate that life expectancy for those born in 2015-2017 varies between Scotland’s council areas by up to 7.2 years for males and 5.0 years for females. Similar to the national figures published in September, life expectancy decreased or stalled over the last year in 20 out of 32 areas for males and in 18 out of 32 areas for females. The report also breaks down life expectancy by health board, Scottish Parliamentary constituency, urban-rural classification and deprivation.

The latest statistics covering 2015-2017 show:

  • Life expectancy was highest in East Renfrewshire where males born in 2015-2017 could expect to live for 80.5 years and females, for 83.7 years.
  • Glasgow City had the lowest life expectancy for those born in 2015-2017 at 73.3 years for males and 78.7 years for females.
  • Average life expectancy at birth for all of Scotland was 77.0 years for males and 81.1 years for females.
  • Between 2014-2016 and 2015-2017, life expectancy in Scotland as a whole fell by approximately 0.1 years for both males and females. Life expectancy also fell or stalled in 20 council areas for males and 18 council areas for females.
  • Deprivation is strongly linked to life expectancy. In 2015-2017, males born in the 10% most deprived areas within Scotland could expect to live 13 years fewer than those in the 10% least deprived area. For females, the gap was 9.6 years.

The publication Life Expectancy for Scottish Areas, 2015-2017 and an Infographic are available on this website.


Quarter 3 births at lowest levels since records began

Wednesday, 12 Dec 2018
Demograpghy News Release Image

There were 13,077 births and 12,625 deaths registered in Scotland between 1 July and 30 September 2018, according to provisional figures released today by National Records of Scotland. Compared to the quarter three average for the last five years, births and deaths have both fallen; births by 9 per cent and deaths by 2 per cent.

The publication, ‘Births, deaths and other vital events, third quarter 2018’, shows that  at 13,077, the number of births registered was 5.5 per cent lower than in the same period of 2017. This fall takes the quarter three total to its lowest level since civil registration began in 1855. The total number of quarter three births had fallen to a previous low of around 13,200 in 2001. It then rose to around 15,500 in 2008 before falling again in more recent years. There is no single reason for the fall in the number of births, but possible causes may include the postponement of childbearing until older ages, often meaning that women will have fewer children; and economic uncertainty influencing decisions around childbearing, particularly given that the beginning of the recent fall coincided with the financial crash a decade ago.

Expressed as a rate, there were 9.6 births per 1,000 population, compared with the recent high of 11.9 births per 1,000 population for quarter three of 2008.

At 12,625, the number of deaths registered was 4.2 per cent lower than in the same period of 2017. Expressed as a rate, there were 9.2 deaths per 1,000 population.

Compared with the third quarter of 2017:

  • The number of cancer deaths fell by 1.3 per cent to 3,916;
  • The number of deaths from coronary heart disease fell by 11.8 per cent to 1,361;
  • The number of deaths from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease fell by 5.2 per cent to 1,284;
  • Deaths from respiratory diseases fell by 1.6 per cent (by 21 to 1,270);
  • There were 750 deaths from cerebrovascular disease (a decrease of 16.7 per cent). 

The provisional figures also show there were 10,118 marriages in total, 752 fewer than during the third quarter of 2017 (a fall of 6.9 per cent). There were 373 same-sex marriages, 4 more (1.1 per cent) than in the same period of 2017. Of the same sex marriages registered in the third quarter, 23 (6.2 per cent) were changes from civil partnerships.

The total number of marriages is the lowest for the third quarter since 1943 (when the total was 9,847) having fallen below the previous low of 10,312 recorded in 2013.

There were 12 civil partnerships (7 male and 5 female), 15 fewer than during the third quarter of 2017.

Anne Slater, the Registrar General for Scotland, said:

“Numbers of both births and deaths were lower than the recent average for this time of year, although the fall in birth numbers is more pronounced.  Continuing the downward trend since 2008, the number of births for the third quarter of 2018 is now the lowest number recorded since civil registration began.”


Publication of Public Records (Scotland) Act 2011 Annual Report for 2018

Friday, 2 Nov 2018
Picture showing front cover page of Keeper's Annual Report - 2018

The Keeper’s Annual Report for 2018, published under the Public Records (Scotland) Act 2011, has been laid in the Scottish Parliament.  It reflects the fifth year of activity since the Act was implemented in January 2013.

The 2018 report can be viewed on this website. The main aim of the Act is to improve the quality of record keeping in approximately 250 named Scottish public authorities. It requires authorities to submit records management plans to the Keeper for agreement.

This year we passed a significant milestone by inviting all authorities listed on the original schedule to the Act to submit a plan, achieving our five year target to invite all ‘first tranche’ authorities to submit a plan by 2018. We also successfully rolled out the Progress Update Review (PUR) tool, allowing authorities to voluntarily update NRS on their progress under the Act.  

The Act continues to support improvements in record keeping within the Scottish public sector. Our engagement with authorities helps to further promote the benefits of good records management and remains central to the Act’s success. Plans agreed show that good practice is being adopted and the Act continues to promote a new culture around record keeping


National Records of Scotland (NRS) has achieved Cyber Essentials Certification

Friday, 19 Oct 2018
Image- General Register House

National Records of Scotland (NRS) are delighted to announce we have achieved Cyber Essentials certification.

Jointly developed by the UK Government and the Cyber Security industry, the Cyber Essentials scheme outlines the cyber security controls organisations need to implement to help mitigate risks from common internet based threats.

Cyber Essentials certification is awarded to those organisations who meet the strict Cyber Essentials scheme’s security requirements.

 Cyber Essentials concentrates on five key areas:

  • Strong access controls to data and services
  • Effective patch management to ensure devices and software are up-to-date
  • Robust processes are in place to protect against malware and viruses
  • Confidence in the secure configuration of devices used within our organisation
  • Secure internet connections via managed boundary firewalls and internet gateways

 The NRS Cyber Essentials certificate (708 KB PDF) demonstrates our commitment to continuous security improvement and provides a level of external independent assurance that NRS are doing the right things to help protect our customers, the systems and services we deliver and the data we are trusted to hold.

By achieving Cyber Essentials certification we are also letting our customers, partners and stakeholders know that:

  • NRS takes cyber security seriously and meets the Government backed standard
  • NRS has robust security measures in place to protect against internet based threats

As an organisation, NRS is committed to evolving our organisations cyber security posture to ensure it matures to align with the continually changing technological landscape.  With this in mind, NRS is taking active steps toward achieving Cyber Essentials Plus, which is a more advanced Cyber Essentials certification, in the coming months and we will let you know when this new certification has been achieved.


For You The War Is Over

Thursday, 18 Oct 2018
image- Prisoners of War Exhibition - Poster

New Prisoners of War Exhibition

A new exhibition by National Records of Scotland (NRS) reveals previously untold stories of Scottish soldiers who were captured on the battlefields of World War I and imprisoned in Germany.

On display for the first time from Monday 22 October, soldiers’ personal letters and photographs tell their stories from “behind the wire” in their own words, including one soldier’s darkly amusing war diary. 


Lt Ian Hamilton with French and Russian friends at Burg-bei-Magdeburg Camp, 1916

Lt Ian Hamilton with French and Russian friends at Burg-bei-Magdeburg Camp, 1916

Hand-drawn map of the Dutch-German border for planned escape by Colin Campbell, 2nd Bn, Argyll & Southern Highlanders

Hand-drawn map of the Dutch-German border for planned escape by Colin Campbell, 2nd Bn, Argyll & Southern Highlanders


 Allied officers playing ice hockey at Burg-bei-Magdeburg camp, 1917.

Allied officers playing ice hockey at Burg-bei-Magdeburg camp, 1917

Excerpt from the war diary of POW Private Andrew Clingan, Royal Scots.

Excerpt from the war diary of POW Private Andrew Clingan, Royal Scots.


Scottish Prisoners of War clashed with their captors and resisted their authority, to make running prison camps as difficult as possible.  Documents and audio recordings of prisoners’ personal testimony take visitors onto the battlefield where they were captured and inside the camps to find out how they continued the struggle against their captors with courage, resilience and humour. 

Letters and other documents describe ambitious escape plans, hidden tunnels and a long trip home in a famous general’s personal motor car, while items sent from Scotland show how worried families helped to maintain the men’s morale, their health and their sanity.  

Presented in a unique partnership with private archives, "For You The War Is Over" uncovers these inspiring and tragic events to explore the experiences of those who returned home to their families after Armistice Day and those who sadly did not.  

Anne Slater, Chief Executive of NRS, said: “Our archivists have created a fascinating snapshot of life in the prison camps of World War One.  Combining specially chosen items from private archives and selected documents from our records, this exhibition shows how the cultural and historical treasures that National Records of Scotland holds and supports can bring Scotland’s past to life”. 

Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism & External Affairs said: “For You The War Is Over is a great chance to find out about this underappreciated aspect of the First World War, in the Centenary year of the Armistice.  It sheds new light upon the experiences of the men who fought and sacrificed so much in this terrible conflict, both on the battlefield and in captivity, one hundred years after their release”. 


Free exhibition being held at National Records of Scotland
'For you the war is over': Scottish POWs 1914-1918

22 October - 23 November 2018
Monday - Friday 10.00am - 4.30pm

Matheson Dome
General Register House
2 Princes Street




Winter deaths: 2017/18 highest since 1999/2000

Tuesday, 16 Oct 2018
Demograpghy News Release Image

Figures released today by National Records of Scotland (NRS) show that a total of 23,137 deaths were registered across Scotland from December 2017 to March 2018, (winter 2017/18) compared with 20,946 in the previous winter (2016/17).  It was the largest number since 23,379 deaths were registered in winter 1999/2000. 

The seasonal increase in mortality - the number of ‘additional’ deaths in the winter (compared with the average for the periods before and after it) - was 4,800 for winter 2017/18.  This was 2,070 more than the corresponding figure of 2,730 for winter 2016/17, and the largest such figure since 5,190 in winter 1999/2000.  NRS statistics show that winter mortality can fluctuate from one year to the next, with some years seeing unusually large seasonal increases, such as the 4,060 in winter 2014/15.   

There is no single cause of ‘additional’ deaths in winter. The underlying causes of most of the ‘additional’ deaths include respiratory system diseases (such as flu, pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease),  circulatory system diseases (such as coronary heart disease and stroke), dementia, and Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and other degenerative diseases.  Very few are caused by hypothermia.

Commenting on these statistics, Anne Slater, Chief Executive of NRS, said:

"There are always more deaths in the winter in Scotland than in any other season, but the long-term trend since the early 1950s has clearly been downward.  However, the average value for the latest five years (which smoothes out much of the year-to-year fluctuation) is now above the level that had applied since the early 2000s.  It is too soon to say whether there has been a change in the long-term trend: it could just be a short-term rise, like that seen roughly 20 years ago, after which the average fell for several years.”

Also today, NRS expanded the alcohol-specific deaths section of its website to provide figures for each year from 1979 to 1999, and the age-standardised death rates section to provide alcohol-specific death rates for those years.

The publication Winter Mortality in Scotland 2017/18 and an Infographic are available on this website.


Digital-first census for 2021

Thursday, 27 Sep 2018
Demograpghy News Release Image

For the first time in 2021, people in Scotland will be encouraged to fill out their census questionnaire primarily online, with support and help available for those who need it.

‘Plans for Scotland’s Census 2021’, published by National Records of Scotland, lays out proposals for how the census will be conducted and the questions it will ask.

Under the proposals, the census will ask new questions, including whether the respondent is a veteran. It is also proposed that questions on sexual orientation and transgender status and history will be asked. As set out in 2018-19  Programme for Government, a Bill will be introduced this parliamentary session to allow sexual orientation and transgender questions to be asked on a voluntary basis.

The report also gives details of what consultation, tests and stakeholder engagement have been conducted to help shape the proposed questions so far. The final proposed questions will be laid before the Scottish Parliament for agreement before the census takes place.

Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop, said:

“For more than 200 years, Scotland has relied on the census to underpin national and local decision making. The census is the only complete source of whole population information about Scotland.

“By encouraging and assisting people to complete their census online, and asking questions which reflect a modern, inclusive Scotland, these proposals ensure the census will continue to be a vital source of information for decades to come.”

Anne Slater, Registrar General for Scotland, said:

“The publication today of ‘Plans for Scotland’s Census 2021’ is a major milestone in delivering a successful census. These proposals have been developed based on robust research and testing and we have consulted many people and organisations to take full account of Scotland’s diverse population.”


  • Plans for Scotland’s Census 2021 also include details on privacy and confidentiality, collecting and publishing information and the legislative process. It is being published now to allow sufficient time for discussion of proposed questions and topics.
  • A census is organised in Scotland every 10 years and collects information on households and individuals to inform public services, policy and research.
  • It was possible to complete the census online in 2011, but printed questionnaires were still sent to every house in Scotland.
  • Scotland’s Registrar Generals have taken responsibility for the country’s census since 1861.

William Wallace letter on display - Edinburgh Doors Open Day 2018

Monday, 24 Sep 2018
Image - Wallace Letter - Gullaime De Walois

One of only two surviving documents with a personal link to William Wallace is going on display at National Records of Scotland on Edinburgh Doors Open Day, Saturday 29 September 2018.

The event offers a chance to see the 700-year-old parchment letter, last displayed in 2014, which is so old and fragile that it can only be shown rarely and under controlled conditions.

Written in November 1300, the document offers a tantalising glimpse into a mysterious period of Wallace’s career. King Philip IV of France wrote to his agents in Rome, commanding them to ask Pope Boniface VIII to view William Wallace favourably. His business in Rome is not described.

The letter proves Wallace played a role in the turbulent politics of medieval Europe, when the Pope was trying to encourage peace between England and France, and to challenge England’s claim to control Scotland.  Did Wallace, the former Guardian of Scotland, actually undertake a secret diplomatic mission to Rome?

Wallace was eventually betrayed, captured by the English and executed in London in 1305. King Philip’s letter was discovered in the Tower of London in the 1830’s. In 2011 a panel of expert historians and archivists concluded that it was likely to have been in Wallace's possession at some time. It is currently on loan to the National Records of Scotland from The National Archives in London.

Visitors to New Register House will have the chance to view this fascinating document between 10am and 4pm.

Wallace inspired campaigners for women’s suffrage, and Doors Open Day also provides a final chance to learn about their story and to see an amazing selection of original records in our exhibition ‘Malicious Mischief? Women’s Suffrage in Scotland’.

There will also be a display of documents for young visitors; the chance to meet and chat to archivists, conservators and statisticians, to mark the Year of Young People; and guided tours of General Register House and New Register House – places must be booked. Learn more at Doors Open Day.


 Image - Wallace Letter - Gullaime De Walois

Picture credit:

Letter of recommendation by Philip IV to his agents at Rome for William Wallace, 7 November 1300. The National Archives, SC 1/30/81.


 National Records of Scotland - Logo                 The National Archives Logo



Number of Scottish centenarians at near record level

Tuesday, 25 Sep 2018
Demograpghy News Release Image

In figures published today, National Records of Scotland estimate there were 900 centenarians living in Scotland in 2017. This is an increase of 45 per cent from the estimate of 620 in 2007, and is over five times as many as when records began in 1981.

The largest estimate for centenarians in Scotland was in 2016, when there were 920 centenarians.

There are many more women who live for over 100 years than men, reflecting the longer life expectancy of females. In 2017, there were 770 female centenarians (86 per cent of all centenarians) compared with 130 men.

The male centenarian population increased by 44 per cent over the past decade (from 90 in 2007 to 130 in 2017), while the female population had a similar growth rate of 45 per cent (from 530 in 2007 to 770 in 2017).

Since 2007, the number of centenarians relative to the total population has increased from 1.2 to 1.7 centenarians for every 10,000 people in Scotland in 2017.

The number of people aged 90 to 99 increased from 29,230 in 2007 to 40,830 in 2017, an increase of 40 per cent.

The number of men aged 90 to 99 increased from 6,910 to 12,260 between 2007 and 2017, an increase of 77 per cent. The number of females aged 90 to 99 increased from 22,320 to 28,570 during the same period, an increase of 28 per cent.

Centenarians make up a larger proportion of the population at UK level (2.2 per 10,000 population) than in Scotland (1.7 per 10,000 population). Between 2007 ad 2017 the percentage increase in the number of centenarians in Scotland (45 per cent) was similar to that in the UK as a whole (44 per cent).

The publication Centenarians in Scotland 2007 to 2017 and an Infographic are available on this website.



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