National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future

Church Records

Church Records

The church collections form a significant proportion of the holdings of the National Records of Scotland (NRS). The material dates from the 16th century onwards and includes a small number of records from the pre-Reformation era. The NRS is the recognised national repository for records of the Church of Scotland, and its constituent predecessor churches.

We also hold on deposit a small proportion of the records of other Protestant denominations, including the Methodist, Congregational/United Reformed and Scottish Episcopal churches, the Unitarian Church and the Society of Friends (Quakers). Records of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland are held by the Scottish Catholic Archive and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Glasgow Archive. The NRS holds copies of Roman Catholic registers, catalogues for which are available in the Historical Search Room and in the NRS online catalogue.

Charge and superintendence

The NRS has set up agreements with a number of Scottish local authority archives, whereby records of particular local significance are held in local archives under the charge and superintendence of the Keeper of the Records of Scotland. In the case of church records this applies to records of Church of Scotland congregations within particular presbyteries, especially in the larger conurbations such as Glasgow, Aberdeen and Dundee. Where a record is held in a local archive, this will be stated in the NRS online catalogue.

Depositing Church of Scotland records

The NRS has an agreement with the Church of Scotland for the deposit of church records that are more than 50 years old and not still in use. Such records should be delivered to the office of the Principal Clerk of the General Assembly for onward transmission to the NRS or, by arrangement with the NRS Church Records Officer, directly to The National Records of Scotland. Guidance on the deposit of church records is available from the NRS Church Records Officer. You can contact the Church Records Officer using the details given below.

Temporary retransmissions

Church of Scotland congregations may, by special arrangement with the NRS, request the temporary retransmission of their own records back to their custody for a specific purpose, such as preparation and/or exhibition for the celebration of a significant anniversary. Requests for temporary retransmissions should be submitted to the Principal Clerk on the appropriate form, and should be accompanied by extract minutes of presbytery and kirk session. Further information and application forms, are available from the NRS Church Records Officer at the address shown below. To allow time for records to be inspected and prepared prior to retransmission, it is essential that requests for temporary retransmissions are submitted at a minimum of three months before they are required. The church courts and the NRS will not consent to the retransmission of records for purposes of personal research.

Contact the Church Records Officer

If you wish to ask the Church Records Officer for advice on your church records use the details shown below. Please do not send family history enquiries to this email or postal address, which is only to be used for enquiries about the deposit or retransmission of church records. For family history queries, please go to our page on researching online.

Postal address: Church Records Officer
The National Records of Scotland
HM General Register House
2, Princes Street
E-mail: [email protected]
Telephone: 0131 535 1327