National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future

Catholic Parish Registers - Deaths, Burials and Funerals

Catholic Parish Registers - Deaths, Burials and Funerals

Death, burial and funeral records are similar in their coverage to that found in the Presbyterian Church of Scotland. There are only 23 volumes of deaths, burials or funerals with a further 49 general registers, containing deaths, burials or funerals. Coverage is very sparse, with the total number of deaths, funerals and burials in the period 1782-1959 being only 17,560.

This poor coverage has been supplemented by utilising the surviving cemetery registers from St Peter’s Dalbeth in Glasgow and Mount Vernon in Edinburgh.

The information contained in the original death registers can be quite minimal, and varies from parish to parish and indeed over time within each parish. At best, a death, burial or funeral register will record the following:

  • name of the deceased person
  • date of death
  • date of burial
  • address
  • place or parish of residence
  • age
  • name of a relative (perhaps a widow, or parent if deceased was a child)
  • name of the priest.

Whilst some registers record all of the information above, some registers record minimal information such as the names of the deceased and a death/burial date. There was no standard format for registers, and they can consist of small notebooks, larger unformatted ledgers or pre-printed registers.

Some records are in Latin. Translating the information given is not very difficult, and a Latin dictionary or glossary will be useful. An example of a death entry in Latin is shown here (click on image to view the full size):

An example of a death entry in Latin

Barrhead, St John’s: Register of Deaths, 1923-1937. MP/73/1/5/2 page 26

In the year 1927, the 2 May, Catherine Moni, of Barrhead (Cross Arthurlie St), aged 9, in communion with the Holy Mother Church, gave her soul back to God fortified by the sacraments, whose body was buried in the cemetery on the 5 May.

Example from a register of deaths (click on image to view the full size)

Example from a register of deaths

Edinburgh, St Mary’s: General Register (deaths), 1789-1819. MP/74/1/1/2 page 246