National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future

Minor Records of Births, Deaths and Marriages Overseas

Minor Records of Births, Deaths and Marriages Overseas

The Minor Records are statutory registers of births, deaths and marriages of Scots (or persons of Scottish descent) which occurred outside Scotland.   They include the Foreign Registerconsular and High Commissioner returns; the Marine Register and Air Register;  and service returns and war registers.  A summary of each register is provided below.

Full details are given in the Minor Records catalogue below.

Entries are included in the Statutory Indexes of Births, Deaths and Marriages and the records are available as index-linked digital images.  The registration district names are given as consular return, service return and so on. 

War Registers
  • South African War (1899-1902)
    Register of deaths of Scottish soldiers in the South African War.  If the date of death was not recorded it has been included in the index as 1902.
  • First World War (1914-10 January 1920)
    The register of deaths of Scottish persons serving as Warrant Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers or men in the Army (but not Officers):  the Minor Records Page Exampleregister of deaths of petty officers or men in the Royal Navy;  and the printed lists of ‘Soldiers died in the Great War 1914-1919’.

    In most cases the cause of death is given in full but you may come across the abbreviations KA (killed in action), DW (died of wounds) and MPD (missing presumed dead).

    In this example which lists the soldiers from the Royal Scots Fusiliers who died during the last few weeks of the war the
    cause of death is given in full.

    Place of birth is usually given as Scotland.  The printed lists give the place of birth within Scotland.  Entries for Scottish soldiers have been indexed and linked to images of the relevant pages   This extract for Private Robert Kentfield, the last entry on the register page above, shows his place of birth as Irvine.

    Minor Records Extract for Private Robert Kentfield

    Appendix three of the Minor Records Catalogue below provides a list of the regiments in each volume.   The Scottish regiments are highlighted in bold.

  • Second World War (1939-1945)
    Incomplete returns of the deaths of Scottish members of the Armed Forces.  Cause of death codes for the Royal Navy and Royal Marines are given as 1, 2, 3 or 4.  Appendix four of the Minor Records Catalogue below provides further details.
Consular Returns of Births and Deaths (from 1914) and Marriages (from 1917)

Certified copies of registrations by British consuls relating to persons of Scottish descent or birth

High Commissioner’s Returns (from 1964)

From certain Commonwealth countries relating to persons of Scottish descent or birth including marriages. Some earlier returns are available for Bangladesh, Ghana, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Marine Registers of Birth and Deaths (from 1855)

Certified returns from the Registrar General for Shipping and Seamen in respect of births and deaths on British-registered merchant vessels at sea in any part of the world where one of the child’s parents or the deceased person was usually resident in Scotland

Air Register (from 1948)

A record of births and deaths in British-registered aircraft in any part of the world where one of the child’s parents or the deceased person was usually resident in Scotland.

Foreign Register (1860-1965)

Register of births of children of Scottish parents and of the marriages and deaths of Scots, the entries being made on the basis of information supplied by the parties concerned and after consideration of the evidence of each event.

Service Returns
  • Army returns of births deaths and marriages of Scottish persons at military stations abroad during the period 1881 to 1959.
  • Service Departments’ registers which, since 1 April 1959, have recorded births, deaths and marriages outside the United Kingdom relating to persons ordinarily resident in Scotland who are serving in or employed by HM Forces including the families of members of the Forces.
  • Certified copies of entries relating to marriages solemnised by Army chaplains outside the United Kingdom since 1892 where one of the parties to the marriage is described as Scottish and at least one of the parties is serving in HM Forces.
Foreign Marriages without the Presence of a British Consular Officer (from 1947)

Certified copies of certificates (with translations) relating to marriages of persons from Scotland in certain foreign countries according to the laws of those countries, without the presence of a British consular official.

Marriages solemnised by army chaplains (from 1892) where one of the parties is described as Scottish and at least one is serving in HM Forces.

From 1975 there is a combined series.

Minor Records Catalogue

This search room guide provides details for each register volume and has four appendices.  It is made available here as five pdf files of less than 40 kilobytes.  PDF files require Acrobat Reader. Download Acrobat Reader free Get Acrobat Reader