National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future



The Court of Session is Scotland's supreme civil court and this guide explains a record series known as 'sequestrations', held by National Records of Scotland (NRS).

Other guides provide an introduction to Court of Session records, unextracted processes, extracted processes and other Court of Session series.


Use the main unextracted process (UP) card index, but there are other means of access, as noted below.

Use the main UP card index series. There are 4 series: you need to use only the first 3. Look in the index under the name of the bankrupt person. When you find a process reference number such as 'Currie Dal Seqns B1/53', convert by means of the 'Toblerone' or the conversion table in the guide Court of Session:unextracted processes, to CS230 / Seqns / B1 / 53. NB when you find 'Seqns' always include it in the order slip between the office reference, eg CS230, and the bundle and item number, for example B1/53. CS96 are mainly business or sederunt books, the latter often compiled during sequestrations. The processes are fully searchable on the online electronic catalogue.

CS16 & 17: if you cannot find the name in either of the above go back to the general minute books. If you find an entry there ask for advice concerning the next steps.

1838-current (main series)

The main series of processes (CS280, CS318 and CS319) have been indexed and are fully searchable on the OPAC. Yet, in cases of sequestration from 1838 onwards you will need to know how the original finding aids work. (See section below for this additional information.)

Other series

In addition to the main processes there are also other record series you may wish to consult.

Processes in unconcluded sequestrations

  • Sederunt books, 1839-1872 (CS277).
  • Productions in processes, 1495-1947 (CS96).

Both of these series are fully searchable on our online electronic catalogue.

Petitions and appeals

  • Petitions in Sequestrations, 1839-1856 (CS278) - indexed on online electronic catalogue
  • Petitions in unconcluded Sequestrations, 1839-1856 (CS279) - indexed on online electronic catalogue
  • Appeals in Sequestrations brought under 1839 Act 1840-1874 (CS285) - indexed on online electronic catalogue
  • Petitions in Sequestrations under 1856 Act 1856-1904 (CS284) - indexed on online electronic catalogue
  • Petitions in Sequestrations under 1856 Act 1856-1904 (CS281) - the index to this series is CS269/6/1, series V, and is available in the Historical Search Room.

CS281 consists of bundles of processes roughly chronologically arranged under each letter of the alphabet.


Malcolm Dennistoun, petition for recall of sequestration, 1861. The process call number would be CS281/D1/10: note that after the series reference, you require the initial letter of the party's name; the bundle number; and the item number.

Sometimes you will see an entry in which you are interested, but which has no item number. Instead, on the right hand side of the page, you will find a cross reference which you will need to pursue.


Frederick Adie, petition to uplift dividend, 1888. The cross reference is "See R B Neill & Co 1/18". Turn to letter 'N', and find bundle 1 no.18: the entry is R B Neill & Co, petition to uplift dividend, 1888. The call number is therefore CS281/N1/18.

Bill Chamber Petitions (continuing series of CS281), 1905-1955 (CS282). There is an index to this in the Historical Search Room. CS282 is much the same as CS281, but the order procedure is different.


Alexander Gray, 1908. In the left hand margin of the page you will see a number: here, 14. The item you want is therefore no.14 of 1908. But the year must be converted first before entering the number on an order slip. Look at the typescript table at the start of the volume, where you will see that 1908 converts to 4. So, the call number turns out to be CS282/4/14.

Additional notes on original finding aids

The electronic catalogue should give you the information you want. The sequestration record series are very complex, and it may be helpful to know how the records are arranged in order to resolve any queries that arise from using the searchable indexes.

It is important to remember that the location of processes is dependant on whether the sequestration was awarded under the 1839 or the 1856 Bankruptcy (Scotland) Act, and whether the Bill Chamber or the Accountant of Court had responsibility for administering the sequestration.

Sequestrations awarded under the Bankruptcy (Scotland) Act 1839

The main series of processes is CS280.

The index to use is Bill Chamber index CS269/6/1 which has been annotated with the CS280 and CS318 references where appropriate. (This is preferable to the alternative of using the transmission books CS266/2/1-2 and the Register of Sequestrations CS276/1-14 (index CS269/5/1-3).

Each sequestration upon registration was given an Accountant number. For CS280 it was just a running number and this is important when tracking a sequestration process across various record series.

Many CS280 processes were brought under the supervision of the Accountant in Bankruptcy by the 1856 Act. There is a Register of Sequestrations for these cases (CS327), and it shows CS318 and CS319 references where relevant. This is useful in tracing the processes that fall within the two distinct arrangements and are proving difficult to locate.

Sequestrations awarded under the Bankruptcy (Scotland) Act 1856

The main series of processes is CS318.

The registers of productions (series reference CS333/1-12, accountant nos. A1-A24762 and S1-S3595) are the recommended search route, because they provide CS318 and CS319 references where appropriate. (The alternative is to use the Register of Sequestrations CS328/1-34 (indexed in CS330/1-4), and the transmission registers CS334, which act as an index to the transmitted CS318 processes).

The CS333 index allows you to track sequestrations from the moment of registration with the Accountant until transmission to the National Archives. This is not possible with CS280 processes as no similar series to CS333 exist.

Each sequestration upon registration was given an Accountant number. For CS318 it was a running number with the prefix 'A'. The 'A' later gave way to 'S' and 'SS' prefixes when the Summary Sequestration process was introduced under the Bankruptcy Act 1913. The prefix is important for tracking a sequestration process across various record series.

The CS333 volumes are arranged numerically by the 'A' and then 'S' numbers within. You will find a list of the contents of the sequestration process in which you are interested. At the end of the entry you will find a note such as "Transmd.1874 no.35". This will need to be converted to the process call number, usually a CS318 reference, using the CS catalogue. Convert the year to a reference number, eg. 1874 = 17, so the call reference is CS318 / 17 / 35.

Very occasionally, one sequestration actually has a number of separate processes: read carefully through the CS333 entry to ensure that there was only one transmission of papers.

Some sequestrations were left unconcluded, and were the subject of a special transmission, all listed as CS319. They are easily spotted in the transmission books (CS333), where instead of "Transmd 1874 no.35" you will see a crayon entry such as '1911'. Simply add the process number, here 35, to CS319, eg the process call number becomes CS319 / 35. (see below for notes on series CS319)

Very occasionally, a post-1856 sequestration will have a CS318 process and a CS280 process. For example, the process in the sequestration of David Stewart Erskine, Earl of Buchan, sequestrated 20 June 1856, is CS318/16/23: but there is another process at CS280/58/1. You will probably find that if there is a CS280 process as well as the more normal CS318 one, you will find the process amongst the CS318 series.

Special transmission CS319

This has its own alphabetical index available in the searchroom, but it is known to be incomplete. As noted above CS333 also provides CS319 references. The index uses codes for the Accountant's number as well:

  • 'B' numbers relate to old sequestrations prior to the 1856 Act, in which books and documents had come into the possession of the Accountant in Bankruptcy in connection with Remits, or otherwise.
  • 'A/B' numbers relate to old sequestrations also prior to 1856, which were specially directed by the Court to be regulated by the 1856 Act.
  • 'A' numbers relate to new sequestrations awarded under the 1856 Act.

Searching problems

It should be remembered that although the majority of sequestration processes were concluded and transmitted within ten years of the date of award, there are instances when processes have not been finally concluded or transmitted till over sixty years later.

Remember that sequestration processes can appear in Sheriff Court records, which are transmitted to NRS about 25 years after the date of their creation, subject to weeding of ephemeral matter. If all this fails ask for advice.