National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future

Catholic Parish Registers - Status Animarum

Catholic Parish Registers - Status Animarum

This type of record is a 'state of the souls' - an enumeration of all Catholics within a particular area at a particular time. These records should have been diligently and regularly kept, but their survival is somewhat irregular. The information contained in the original registers can be quite minimal, and varies from parish to parish and indeed over time within a parish. At best a status animarum will record the following:

  • name of the person
  • address
  • date of compilation of list
  • relationships to others in households
  • age (usually for children)
  • birthplace
  • occupation.

In a basic record you should find the name of an individual and a place; other records are more detailed with addresses given, family groups shown, and in a small number of cases ages and places of birth. These are valuable census substitutes.

Here is an example of a record (click on image to view the full size).

Example of Status Animarum

Dundee, St Andrew's: General Register (Communicants), 1795-1828. MP/39/1/1/1 page 79