National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future

Historical Records - an overview

Historical Records - an overview

National Records of Scotland (NRS) keeps records created by Scottish government, as well as private records created by businesses, landed estates, families, courts, churches and other corporate bodies.

The main categories of records in the NRS are:


Records of pre-1707 Scottish crown, parliament and government; post-1707 United Kingdom government departments in Scotland; the Scottish census and post-1855 civil registration system; post-1886 Scottish Office and Scottish Government.

Legal registers

Registers of deeds, sasines, wills and testaments; services of heirs.

Courts of law

Records of the Court of Session, the High Court of Justiciary, sheriff courts (including adoption records) and commissary courts.


Kirk session, presbytery and synod records for the Church of Scotland, Free Church, and other presbyterian congregations; records of the Scottish Episcopal Church; Old Parish Registers for the Church Scotland (pre-1855); records of Baptist, Methodist and other protestant churches; copies of the records of baptisms, marriages and burials for Roman Catholics before 1855. 

Nationalised industries and transport

Records of the rail and canal systems, coal, gas, electricity, steel and shipbuilding industries.

Local authorities

Valuation rolls for all Scottish counties and burghs 1855-1995; records of some burghs, county councils, justices of the peace and other local authorities.

Private and corporate bodies

Family, legal and estate papers; records of businesses, societies and institutions.

Maps and plans

Maps, plans, architectural and technical drawings from government departments, nationalised industries, transport systems, courts, churches, private and corporate bodies.

Find out more about what you will need to visit the NRS search rooms.

Discover what online research services the NRS offers and how to make an enquiry by post, e-mail, telephone or fax.