National Records of Scotland (2023)

Her Majesty the Queen was bound to Scotland by ties of ancestry, affection and duty. She wasdescended from the Royal House of Stewart on both sides of her family. Her relationship with Scotland and the Scots began in childhood, and deepened during her many private as well as official visits throughoutthe seven decades of her reign.

Her parents shared a common ancestor in Robert II, King of Scots. Through her father King George VI she was directly descended from James VI of Scotland. Through her mother’s family, the Bowes-Lyons, Earls of Strathmore, she could trace her ancestry back through generations of Scottish nobility to Sir John Lyon, Thane of Glamis, who married Robert II’s daughter in the fourteenth century.

National Records of Scotland (1)

Detail from ‘An Historical and Genealogical Tree
of the Royal Family of Scotland’ by John Brown, 1792
Crown copyright, National Records of Scotland, RH16/135

National Records of Scotland (2)

Royal Arms of Queen Elizabeth, Consort of King George VI, 1937
Court of the Lord Lyon

National Records of Scotland (3)

Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom for
use in Scotland, drawn by AGL Samson, Lyon Court
Court of the Lord Lyon

Princess Elizabeth

During the Second World War Princess Elizabeth and her sister were often photographed with their parents in order to project an image of stability and fortitude on the Home Front. She began to undertake public duties in connection with the war, but she also wished to contribute more actively to the war effort. In early 1945 at the age of 18 she was given this opportunity when she joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS). As a junior officer she underwent mechanical training and qualified as a driver.

National Records of Scotland (4)

Photograph of Princess Elizabeth at the No. 1 Mechanical
Training Centre of the Auxiliary Territorial Service, 1945
Crown copyright, National Records of Scotland, NSC1/394/47

Her Majesty's Accession 1952

On 8 February 1952, two days after the death of her father King George VI, the new Queen signed an Oath by which she promised to uphold the ‘Government, Worship, Discipline, Right and Privilege of the Church of Scotland.’ This was in accordance with the provisions of An Act for securing the Protestant Religion and Presbyterian Church Government, an important measure passed at the same time as the Act of Union formed the United Kingdom in 1707, and which is still in force.

This signature was one of the very first of the countless times the Queen signed her name ‘Elizabeth R’ during her seventy year reign. Although the Queen was Head of the Church of England, when in Scotland she worshipped in the Church of Scotland, and when staying at Balmoral attended Crathie Kirk.

Oath signed by the Queen to uphold the Church of Scotland, 1952
Crown copyright, National Records of Scotland, SP10/14

‘Our gracious young Queen’

Shortly after her Coronation at Westminster Abbey, the Queen spent a week in Scotland and attended a National Service of thanksgiving and dedication at St Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh, on 24 June 1953. Cheering crowds witnessed a magnificent procession accompanying the royal carriage bearing the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh to St Giles. There the Honours of Scotland, the Crown, Sceptre and Sword, were ceremonially presented to the sovereign, witnessed by 1,700 worshippers from all walks of Scottish life, and seen live on television. The Moderator of the General Assembly captured the moment: ’Today you and I are Scotland, greeting with all that we have to offer of love and duty our gracious young Queen.’

National Records of Scotland (6)

Admission card to the National Service at St Giles, 24 June 1953
Crown copyright, National Records of Scotland, HH91/715

Symbols of monarchy

With a new sovereign come new symbols of monarchy. As well as new postage stamps, coins and bank notes bearing the monarch’s likeness, the royal arms are redesigned, new seal matrices are produced, and a formal title is settled upon. Her Majesty was styled Queen Elizabeth II to acknowledge her namesake, Elizabeth I of England, and to avoid the double numbering of some monarchs after the Union of the Crowns in 1603, such as her ancestor James VI of Scotland and I of England. This caused controversy in Scotland, and in 1953 an unsuccessful legal challenge went as far as the House of Lords. New pillar boxes in Scotland bearing the cipher E II R were a public symbol of the unpopular title. After some were attacked in 1952-3 it was decided that pillar boxes, mail vans and Post Office branding north of the border would henceforth only carry the Crown of Scotland. Pillar boxes were manufactured at the Carron Works, whose records are in NRS.

National Records of Scotland (7)

Photograph of workman fitting locks to pillar boxes
bearing the royal cipher of Queen Elizabeth II at the
Carron Works near Falkirk, 1950s
Crown copyright, National Records of Scotland, GD58/21/2/28/8

National Records of Scotland (8)

A light-hearted telegram sent to the Secretary of State for Scotland
pointed out that the Queen was the first Queen Elizabeth to reign in Scotland, 1952
Crown copyright, National Records of Scotland, HH91/627

Constitutional role in Scotland

Although the monarch rules over the United Kingdom, the 1707 Act of Union provided for certain powers to endure in Scotland. For instance, a separate Scottish seal continues to be used to signify the monarch’s approval of official appointments in Scotland and of the passing of new laws by the Scottish Parliament. Nowadays the First Minister of Scotland is Keeper of the Great Seal, and the Keeper of the Registers of Scotland has custody of the seal matrix as deputy to the First Minister.

Royal Commissions are given under the Great Seal of Scotland. The original warrant was ‘superscribed’ by the Queen with her signature. The example here dates from 1996, when the Queen appointed four officials to be commissioners to guard the Stone of Scone on its return from Westminster Abbey to Edinburgh.

Commission to officers of state to guard the Stone of Scone, 1996
Crown copyright, National Records of Scotland, C9/51/161

Before an act of the Scottish Parliament can become law the monarch has to give assent. To do this, the Queen signed ‘letters patent’ under the Great Seal of Scotland. Expert conservators in National Records of Scotland assist in the physical preparation of all letters patent. The Great Seal matrix, which was created at the Queen’s accession, was used to cast a double-sided wax seal that was attached to official documents by a ribbon. A conservator hand crafts every seal using traditional beeswax.

National Records of Scotland (10)

Great Seal matrix and cast for royal letters patent, 2007
Crown copyright, National Records of Scotland

Royal residences in Scotland

The Queen’s official residence in Scotland was the ancient royal Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, where she based herself and her court when in the capital city. Balmoral in Aberdeenshire was the Queen’s beloved family home, created by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert as the royal family’s private retreat in Scotland. The Queen took a personal interest in those living and working at Balmoral, many of whose families have a tradition of serving the royal family there.

Estate staff and tenants in the Valuation Rolls for Balmoral, 1915-16
Crown copyright, National Records of Scotland, VR87/109/75

Learn more about the royal family and the Balmoral estate.

Ruling the Waves

The Royal Yacht ‘Britannia’ was launched by HM Queen at John Brown’s shipyard in Clydebank on 16 April 1953.A crowd of more than 30,000 at the dockside sang Rule Britannia. ‘Britannia’ carried the Queen and her family on many happy voyages in Scottish waters and around the world until the vessel was de-commissioned in 1997.

National Records of Scotland (12)

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh at the launch of Britannia, 1953
Upper Clyde Shipbuilders Collection, Crown copyright, National Records of Scotland,UCS1/118/691

The Cunard liner ‘Queen Elizabeth 2’ was completed by John Brown’s Shipyard at Clydebank in 1967. The previous ‘Queen Elizabeth’ was built in the 1930’s and named after the Queen’s mother, Queen Consort of George VI. The Queen launched the QE2 on 27 September 1967. For images of the launch see ourImage Gallery.


Milestones in the Queen’s long reign were the occasion of public celebration and congratulation by citizens and institutions alike. In 1977, for example, the Silver Jubilee of her accession to the throne was marked throughout Britain. Among the loyal addresses from bodies with a royal charter was one from the Royal Scottish Academy of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture, signed by its president, the painter Sir Robin Philipson. It thanks the Queen and Prince Philip for their ‘great encouragement to the flowering of the arts in Scotland.’ Prince Philip, a well-known patron of the arts, became an honorary academician in 1963.

Royal address by the Royal Scottish Academy of
Painting, Sculpture and Architecture, 1977
Crown copyright, National Records of Scotland, HH91/53/27

The Queen celebrated her Platinum Jubilee in June 2022.

Royalvisits to H M General Register House

Her Majesty the Queen fulfilled countless engagements on her many royal visits to Scotland. She visited General Register House three times: first on 27 June 1952 during her first official visit to Scotland as Queen, secondly to mark the bicentenary of the building on 2 July 1974, and latterly to open the ScotlandsPeople Centre on 4 July 2008.

National Records of Scotland (14)

The Queen with Sir James Fergusson of Kilkerran, Keeper
of the Records, at General Register House, 1952
Crown copyright, National Records of Scotland, SRO21/9/8

National Records of Scotland (15)

The Queen visiting General Register House in 2008.
Crown copyright, National Records of Scotland

National Records of Scotland (16)

The Queen’s signature in the General Register House
visitor’s book, 4 July 2008
Crown copyright, National Records of Scotland

The death of Queen Elizabeth II

In July 2022 the Queen travelled to Balmoral Castle in Aberdeenshire for her yearly summer retreat. It was there that she died on the afternoon of Thursday 8 September 2022 surrounded by her family. Her eldest son, King Charles III, succeeded her.


National Records of Scotland? ›

Map of National Records of Scotland

How do I find the Scottish national records? ›

On the ScotlandsPeople website you can search indexes to registers of births, deaths and marriages; census returns; wills and testaments (including soldiers' wills), valuation rolls, prison registers, Highland and Island Emigration Society records and Coats of Arms; and download digital copies of the records.

How can I trace my family history in Scotland? ›

For original documents such as birth, death and marriage and census records you should contact the National Records of Scotland. You will also find sources such as wills, trial papers and some estate and church records there.

Can you visit the National Records of Scotland? ›

Visit our Search Rooms in Edinburgh

Signage is in place to direct customers and visitors. All other visitors should go to the main reception area or the accessible reception, both at New Register House. We recommend that you read the following pages before your visit.

Can you search death records online Scotland? ›

The records are indexed by personal name. If you need a death certificate for official or legal purposes please go to certificates and copies for guidance about online ordering. You have to register and login to use this service.

How do I find my Scottish ancestors for free? ›

The best online Scottish ancestry websites
  1. ScotlandsPeople. ...
  2. FamilySearch. ...
  3. Scottish Indexes. ...
  4. SAFHS. ...
  5. ScotlandsPlaces. ...
  6. NLS Maps. ...
  7. Scottish Military Research Group. ...
  8. Scottish Mining.
6 Oct 2022

Can I get my old school records Scotland? ›

Accessing the Records

Most of the Scottish education records have not been digitized and are only available in print. The National Records of Scotland house school inspection reports, examination results, plans of school buildings, and records of individual schools and schoolmasters.

How do I know if I have Scottish heritage? ›

The quickest and easiest way to find out about your potential Scottish ancestry is to take a genetic DNA kit through Living DNA.

Are Scottish birth records online? ›

Search birth, marriage and death registers online at ScotlandsPeople. Many registers are available to view online and you can download images (charges apply).

How do I trace my family bloodline? ›

Historical and government records can help you trace your heritage. Use these free resources to research and build your family tree. The National Archives and Records Administration has a collection of resources for genealogists.
Research Ancestors (Genealogy)
  1. State censuses.
  2. Native American records.
  3. Pioneer certificates.
21 Mar 2022

Does Scotland still have track and trace? ›

As of 1 May 2022, contact tracing is no longer being utilised in Scotland response to COVID-19. The latest advice and information for the public on COVID-19 is available at NHS inform.

Does ancestry UK include Scottish records? ›

Our database of Scottish Parish Registers contain birth, christening, marriage, death, and burial records.

How far back do Scottish records go? ›

Scotland is a world leader in providing family history information on the internet, partly because written records go back a long way. The main examples are registers of births, marriages and deaths dating back to 1553, Census records from 1841 to 1911 and wills dating back to 1500 - all available online.

How do I find a death record in Scotland? ›

The majority of Scottish birth, death and marriage records are held in the custody of the Registrar General for Scotland at New Register House in Edinburgh. There are separate guides to each of the registers which you can access at the links below.

How do I find out how someone died in Scotland? ›

The Statutory Register of Deaths contains detailed information about each person who has died in Scotland since 1 January 1855 and is of great value to researchers. This guide covers: Information recorded in the registers. Cause of death.

Can you view UK death certificates online for free? ›

The historical birth and death index - births over 100 years old and deaths up to 1957 (those records that have been digitised) are available to search free of charge, via the GRO website at bmdcertificates. You can also visit which contains a transcription of the index from 1837 to 1983.

Is everyone in a Scottish clan related? ›

While the term "clan" means family or children in Gaelic - not everyone in the same clan was actually related to each other. The clans lived off the land, with cattle being their main source of wealth and, along with border disputes, the prime cause of inter-clan unrest.

Do Scottish and English have the same DNA? ›

According to the data, those of Celtic ancestry in Scotland and Cornwall are more similar to the English than they are to other Celtic groups. The study also describes distinct genetic differences across the UK, which reflect regional identities.

What is my ethnicity if I was born in Scotland? ›

Most people in Scotland will say they are Scottish rather than British. People born in Wales are called Welsh or British and can say that they live in Wales, Britain and/or the UK. Most people in Wales will say they are Welsh rather than British.

How long are school records kept in Scotland? ›

Retention of files - Education records are kept for 5 years after the child leaves the school.

How long do schools keep records Scotland? ›

11.1 Pupil education records shall be kept by the responsible body for 5 years after the pupil has stopped receiving school education. Parental responsibility is a legal term that means having all the legal rights, duties, powers and responsibilities for a child (a child is a young person under the age of 16).

How do I get my education records in Scotland? ›

First of all, you need to write to the body responsible for the records. For local authority schools (the vast majority of schools in Scotland), that means writing to your local education authority. If your child goes to an independent school, write to the proprietor. For grant-aided schools, write to the managers.

What is the most Scottish last name? ›

Note: Correction 25 September 2014
46 more rows

What are Scottish physical features? ›

Scotland's diverse landscapes consist of dramatic mountains and glens, forests and moorlands and a highly indented coastline fragmented into a diverse range of islands that enrich our northern and western shores. There are also rolling lowlands, fertile straths, broad estuaries and settlements.

Are Irish and Scottish the same genetically? ›

Oct 2021. Scotland and Ireland are close neighbours, and it is no surprise that commercial ancestral Y-DNA testing and the resulting hundreds of Y-DNA Case Studies conducted at Scottish and Irish Origenes have revealed lots of shared ancestry among males with Scottish or Irish origins.

How do I find my birth parents Scotland? ›

You can request counselling from any local council in Scotland or the adoption agency that arranged the adoption. The National Records of Scotland Adoption Unit holds original birth records for people born in Scotland. You can contact them and ask for a copy of your original birth certificate if you're aged 16 or over.

Can I get a copy of my birth certificate online Scotland? ›

Order a copy certificate online

You can order a certificate online from the ScotlandsPeople website. You need to create an account first on the ScotlandsPeople website. ScotlandsPeople can only process online orders right now. They cannot process any orders made in another way.

When did Scotland start keeping birth records? ›

The recording of births, deaths and marriages — known as statutory registration — began in Scotland in 1855. Before 1855 the records for members of the Church of Scotland were known as the 'old parish registers'.

Which parent carries the bloodline? ›

Genetically, you actually carry more of your mother's genes than your father's. That's because of little organelles that live within your cells, the mitochondria, which you only receive from your mother.

Do siblings have the same bloodline? ›

Because of recombination, siblings only share about 50 percent of the same DNA, on average, Dennis says. So while biological siblings have the same family tree, their genetic code might be different in at least one of the areas looked at in a given test. That's true even for fraternal twins.

What is the farthest back someone can trace their lineage? ›

How far back in time do the oldest genealogies go? The oldest traceable family tree is that of the Chinese Kang clan, which documents the family's lineage over 5200 years and more than 80 generations! This family tree contains over 2 million descendants, including the great philosopher Confucius.

Why can't I find Scottish records on ancestry? ›

We only list regions for which we have unique data collections. Please try back later because we frequently add more collections. Alternatively, for more regional records try browsing within all Scotland collections.

Why can't I find my Scottish ancestors? ›

Many Scots left for new lives overseas, while Irish, Italians, Lithuanians and others arrived here. These migrations severed links with home and family and can cause problems for family historians as records often don't provide detailed information on places of origin.

Is black a Scottish name? ›

Black is a surname which can be of either English, Scottish, Irish or French origin. In the cases of non-English origin, the surname is likely to be an Anglicisation.

Are all Stewarts in Scotland related? ›

The second part of the study has revealed that fifty percent of all men who have the surname of Stewart or Stuart are the direct descendants of Scotland's long-lasting royal dynasty (who also came to rule over Britain and Ireland). This data has been derived from sampling of the general population by ScotlandsDNA.

Who are the ancestors of the Scots? ›

The Scots (Scots: Scots Fowk; Scottish Gaelic: Albannaich) are an ethnic group and nation native to Scotland. Historically, they emerged in the early Middle Ages from an amalgamation of two Celtic-speaking peoples, the Picts and Gaels, who founded the Kingdom of Scotland (or Alba) in the 9th century.

Is there Scottish DNA? ›

If you just got your DNA results back and you found out that you have the Ireland and Scotland DNA ethnicity on your results, you can count yourself among the descendants of the more than ten million people who have emigrated from Scotland and Ireland since the 1700s.

Can you check death records online UK? ›

You can: search the GRO online Index of historic births (1837 to 1916) and deaths (1837 to 1957) view index reference numbers for free on the FreeBMD website.

How do you find information on someones death? ›

Local newspapers, obituary pages, and social media can help you determine whether someone recently died. States and the U.S. government have online death records (sometimes called death indexes) for deaths within the past 50 years or so. To find out if you're in someone's will, you may want to visit a probate court.

Are UK death certificates public? ›

Under UK law, death certificates are known as Public Records which means that any person can apply for a copy of any certificate, providing that they know the details of the death that is required.

Are death certificates public record in Scotland? ›

The National Records of Scotland store records of births, deaths, marriages, civil partnerships, divorces, stillbirths - they're also responsible for the Scottish national archives, which contain government documents and public records.

Can you search for someone who has died? ›

Yes, you can. It is generally an easy process, but if you don't have details about the deceased person, such as their name and date of death (estimate should be okay), it will be more difficult to find out more information such as the cause of death and burial place.

Can I get a deceased relatives medical records Scotland? ›

Deceased records

The law allows you to see records of a patient that has died as long as they were made after 1st November 1991. Records are usually only kept for three years after death.

How do I look up a death certificate online? ›

In UP, you can Search Death Certificate online and check status from the website of There is no need of visiting Registration office initially to apply and Search for Death Certificate in UP. Status of Death Certificate also can be searched online by visiting the website.

Who can access a death certificate UK? ›

It's free to register the death, but you'll need to pay £11 for each copy of the death certificate.
Who can get a death certificate?
  • Someone who was present at the death.
  • An administrator from the hospital (if the person died in hospital)
  • Someone in charge of arranging the funeral.
15 Sept 2021

How do I find a UK death certificate? ›

You need to register on the General Register Office ( GRO ) website to get a copy of a birth, adoption, death, marriage or civil partnership certificate in England and Wales. You can use this service to research your family tree. Order with the GRO index reference number.

Can you find out what someone has been charged with Scotland? ›

They can be identified by searching on our catalogue under the name of the accused. Precognitions less than 100 years old are closed to public access. If a precognition is available there will usually be a record of a trial at the High Court too, although cases do not always come to a trial.

Can you get Scottish records on Ancestry? ›

Welcome to our Scotland family history research page. Here you'll find record collections, history, and genealogy resources to help you trace your Scotland ancestors.

How do I trace someone in Scotland? ›

Call us on 0131 272 2766 for a professional tracing and people finding service. We have access to accurate and up to date information not available in the public domain and the investigative experience and knowledge of Edinburgh to save you time and money.

Can I lookup a court case Online Scotland? ›

You can search judgements on court cases on the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service website.

How do I check criminal convictions in Scotland? ›

To request your criminal record (or for confirmation that nothing is held regarding you on these systems) you should tick the Scottish Criminal History System (CHS) and/ or Police National Computer (PNC) check boxes on the application form or state in your email that you would like a CHS/ PNC check.

Can you check if someone has a criminal record Scotland? ›

You can apply to Disclosure Scotland for a disclosure certificate. Disclosure Scotland is a service that provides potential employers and voluntary sector organisations with criminal history information on individuals applying for posts. Individuals may also apply for a basic disclosure.

What DNA do Scottish people have? ›

There are many genetic markers being searched for, but only a few will help identify whether you have Scottish ancestry or not. The main haplogroup is called R1b-M269, which originated in western Europe and is an important Y-DNA haplogroup found among Scottish men.

Do Irish and Scots have the same DNA? ›

Oct 2021. Scotland and Ireland are close neighbours, and it is no surprise that commercial ancestral Y-DNA testing and the resulting hundreds of Y-DNA Case Studies conducted at Scottish and Irish Origenes have revealed lots of shared ancestry among males with Scottish or Irish origins.

Do Scots and English have the same DNA? ›

According to the data, those of Celtic ancestry in Scotland and Cornwall are more similar to the English than they are to other Celtic groups. The study also describes distinct genetic differences across the UK, which reflect regional identities.

What are some Scottish traits? ›

So what are the Scots really? Carefree and light-hearted we most hilariously are not but at our best, we're honest, reliable and compassionate. Fairness reigns supreme and most Scots genuinely strive for a fairer and more equal society even if, in our eternal resigned pessimism, we fear we'll never see one.

Can you contact track and trace Scotland? ›

If you cannot get online please call 0800 028 2816.

Do you have to be born in Scotland to be Scottish? ›

Scottish born British citizens currently living outside of Scotland will also be considered Scottish citizens. Following independence, other people will be able to apply for Scottish citizenship.

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