National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future

Quarter of a million records added to ScotlandsPeople

Quarter of a million records added to ScotlandsPeople

Thursday, 18 Jan 2024
Image of Dorothy Dunnett

A double agent, a historical novelist and a pioneer of radar technology feature in the 250,000 records newly released online by National Records of Scotland.

Among those records now available on the ScotlandsPeople website are; the birth of the Scottish author, Dorothy Dunnett who was internationally recognised for her historical fiction novels, the death of Brechin-born scientist Sir Robert Watson-Watt whose discoveries played a key role in defeating Germany in World War II, and the marriage of a former Russian spy Victor Konstantine Kaledin who married in Scotland and latterly pursued a varied career as a novelist and clairvoyant.

Every year, birth records that are 100 years old, death records that are 50 years old and marriage records that are 75 years old are added to the site, allowing family historians and researchers to access them anywhere and at any time. 

National Records of Scotland Chief Executive Dr Janet Egdell said:

“The start of the new year and the arrival of another major release of scanned records to ScotlandsPeople is one of the eagerly anticipated moments of our year.

“Being able to access these records from the comfort of your own home or office allows people the freedom to research when it suits them. They are a fascinating source of information and I’m delighted we are able to bring them to people in this format.

“We are highlighting these individuals as a reminder that when it comes to history, no matter what our achievements in life, we are all included.”


Follow the links to longer profiles about each of these people. 

Dorothy Dunnett

Dorothy Dunnett was born in Dunfermline in 1923 and became internationally recognised for her historical fiction.‘The Lymond Chronicles’, six novels set in 16th-century Europe, relate the life and adventures of a Scottish nobleman and mercenary, Francis Crawford of Lymond. Dunnett’s stand-alone novel ‘King Hereafter’, set in Orkney and Scotland in the 11th century, is based on the premise that the central historical character, Thorfinn, Earl of Orkney, and Macbeth, King of Alba, were one and the same person. Her final work, the eight-volume ‘House of Niccolò’, is set in 15th-century Europe and follows the career of Nicholas de Fleury, a dyer’s apprentice from Bruges who climbs the mercantile ladder of Renaissance Europe. Dunnett was born Dorothy Halliday in Dunfermline in 1923, and died in Edinburgh in 2001. Hers is one of 111,902 birth entries newly added to ScotlandsPeople.

Sir Robert Watson-Watt

Sir Robert Watson-Watt, born in 1892 in Brechin to a carpenter and his wife. He was awarded bursaries to attend High School and university, where he studied physics and went on to become known as the “father of radar”. He was knighted for his work on the use of radio waves to locate incoming enemy aircraft during World War II. While the Luftwaffe aircraft outnumbered the RAF fighter aircraft 3-1 at the height of the Battle of Britain in 1940, the ability to ‘see’ them coming – even in thick fog – gave Britain and its allies a chance.Watson-Watt was married three times. His last marriage in 1966 was to Dame Katheryn Jane Trefusis-Forbes, who was the first director of the Women’s Air Auxiliary Force. Among the 175,000 personnel she oversaw were the Radar Room operatives. It’s not known, however, if she met Watson-Watt in wartime. He died aged 81 in hospital in Inverness, one of 64,545 deaths registered in Scotland in 1973. 

Victor Konstantine Kaledin

Russian-born Victor Konstantine Kaledin wrote spy novels said to be informed by his experiences working as a double agent for Russia and Germany in World War I. Kaledin spent a significant part of his colourful life in Scotland. He married his third wife Louise Drube at Ladybank in Fife in 1948, one of 44,144 marriages to be registered in Scotland that year. In their entry into the register of marriages, Kaledin listed his late father’s occupation as the Viceroy de Ukraine. After the Russian Revolution he travelled, becoming a naturalised British citizen in the 1930s. By the 1940s he was struggling to make an income from writing. Newspapers recorded the couple living in poverty in Edinburgh for a time in the 1950s where Kaledin advertised his services as a spiritualist. He told journalists he’d narrowly survived attempts on his life and lived in fear. Meanwhile, his wife was a commercial artist illustrating children’s books using the artistic name Her Serene Highness Princess Razibor. They told interviewers that the title had come down through Kaledin’s female line, having been given to an ancestor by James III of Scotland.