Family history - registrars
Our registrar offices can help you trace your family history. You can also find research resources from our libraries and from our main archives.
- Where do you start?
- Family Tree Chart
- Registration Certificates
- DIGROS (Digital Imaging of the Genealogical Records of Scotland’s people)
- Burial ground records
- Old Parochial Registers (OPRs)
- Census Return
Where do you start?
A family tree can show the links between you, your ancestors and your descendants. The search can become an all-consuming interest as you build up the tree person by person. Show yourself linked to your parents. Check your birth certificate to be sure of the facts. If it is a full birth certificate it gives your date and place of birth, your full name, parent’s names, occupations, your mother’s maiden surname and where and when they married.
Follow on by doing the same for your parents and continue back down through the generations. Many clues can be gleaned from the certificates, for example, the name and address of a witness to a marriage, whether the parents of a bride and groom were alive or deceased, the name and relationship to deceased of an informant of a death. Also be aware of variations in ages and spellings. Collect family photographs. Talk to elderly relatives who may have memories of the person you are trying to find. Ask questions like “where are they buried”?
If you are interested in searching and obtaining records from our offices please call to arrange a suitable time.
Family Tree Chart
Record the information as you find it. Organise a file to hold all materials. Always record where you have searched to avoid duplication of work, even if the search yielded no results. You can download a chart to help you record what you find (see below). Additionally you could purchase a computer package specifically designed to store and set out your gathered information.
- Blank Ancestor Chart (PDF 143KB)
- Blank Ancestor Continuation Chart (PDF 39KB)
- Family History Example Record Sheets (PDF 111KB)
Registration in Scotland became compulsory in 1855. This is as far back as registration records can take you. You can purchase birth, death and marriage certificates from the 12 full-time Aberdeenshire Registrar offices as long as the event occurred in Scotland. For more information and search fees contact the local Registrar of your choice or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Due to a local agreement with the Aberdeenshire Burial Grounds Service the fee may include a search in the burial ground records where these exist locally.
Birth certificates, in 1855 and from 1861, include the date and place of the parents' marriage, allowing you to find the marriage certificate more quickly. Marriage certificates show the names of both parents, including the maiden surname of the mother, and death certificates record the names of the parents of the deceased. This is good for confirming that you have indeed found the correct person. Check the address shown on certificates as they can be looked up in the nearest census year.
DIGROS (Digital Imaging of the Genealogical Records of Scotland’s people)
Now Registrars at our full-time offices have access to the digital images of all births, deaths and marriages from 1855 to date, censuses from 1841 to 1901 and Old Parish Records (OPR's).
Burial ground records
In Aberdeenshire the burial ground records are held by Landscape Services. Burial grounds are listed over 6 geographical areas. You can view details of burials grounds and the relevant office to contact. The records may allow you to see all who is buried in a particular lair. Often this can lead you to finding other family members and other branches of the family. Headstones may have inscriptions of all the family, but that does not necessarily mean that all the persons are buried there. Also persons could be interred in a lair but are not mentioned on the headstone. Only by checking the records can this be established.
This information can be accessed for a search fee, either in person or by the burial ground clerk.
Old Parochial Registers (OPRs)
These are available at our full-time offices and National Records of Scotland as digital images and at local libraries, and family history societies on 35mm roll microfilm. Some of these go back as far as 1553. These registers in 900 parishes of the Church of Scotland, recorded births and baptisms; proclamations of banns and marriages; and deaths and burials. The surviving registers, now approximately 3,500 in number, are far from complete. The oldest register is from Errol in Perthshire in 1553. For some parishes the earliest dates are from the early 19th century and in other parishes there are no registers at all. The standard of record keeping varied from parish to parish and year-to-year. Many entries contain relatively little information.
Census returns are available from 1841 to 1901 and are held as above (OPR’s). These records can be very useful establishing where a person was born, the age at time of census can help with a year of birth, as well as family relationships.
At our full-time offices you can access the censuses from 1841 to 1901.