The Court of Session is Scotland's supreme civil court and National Records of Scotland (NRS) holds Court of Session records from the 16th century onwards.
This guide deals with unextracted processes after 1660. Other guides deal with specific types of record:
Unextracted processes (UPs) consist of actions in which final decisions were not extracted. UPs are not necessarily actions which were dropped or otherwise left unconcluded.
Some series of processes are now searchable on our electronic catalogue. For others, the reference conversion procedures described in the rest of this guide still need to be followed. There is a table of unextracted processes searchable on the electronic catalogue at the end of this guide.
There are four arrangements of the main UP index card drawers near the Archivist's desk in the Historical Search Room:
- 1st series - 1660s-1780s - blue labels on drawers (includes CS30)
- 2nd series 1780s-1829 - red labels on drawers
- 3rd series 1830-1869 - yellow labels on drawers
- 4th series 1870-1912 - green labels on drawers
The record series covered by these cards are CS228-250, with a few for CS30.
All cards are filed alphabetically by pursuer only. If you need to establish the pursuer's name, try the Court's general minute books (see the Introduction to Court of Session Records guide). Very occasionally the cards bear a place name rather than a personal name. This may have occurred because it was impossible to tell from the surviving process papers who was the pursuer and who the defender, for example 'Sauchie, accounts concerning the coal of, 1692'. Alternatively, the pursuers could have been a corporate body such as the provost and magistrates of Edinburgh.
Usually the cards are filed chronologically within each surname. Variant spellings of surnames were common well into the 19th century. These variant spellings are sometimes grouped together, for example 'Robertson'/'Robinson'/'Robison' all filed under 'Robertson', or 'Smith'/'Smyth'/'Smythe' all under 'Smith'. Unfortunately this was not done consistently. Names of firms consisting of surnames are sometimes grouped collectively at the end of the first surname of the firm, for example 'Dunbar Hately and Company, 1853', is placed at the end of 'Dunbar' in the 1830-1869 index.
A year should appear on each card: this is normally the date of the summons (the start of the action).
If the card has the word 'Inventory' immediately above the date, the process will only contain an inventory of papers lodged during the action. By itself an inventory will not reveal much of the proceedings. The papers themselves will have been borrowed by the parties' law agents and never returned, at least under that particular reference. At the conclusion of an action the lawyers were entitled to reclaim any productions they had lodged, such as personal letters. They should have returned to the court any other papers borrowed only for consultation, but in practice this did not always happen.
For further information read our guide to guidance on converting old process reference numbers to unextracted processes (PDF, 209 KB).