The National Archives of Scotland Home
A-Z Help Site search
You are in: NAS> Family history
Thursday 23 March 2017

Family history in the National Archives of Scotland


In the National Archives of Scotland (NAS) you will find records created by Scottish government from the 12th century until the present day, along with private records created by businesses, landed estates, families, courts, churches and other corporate bodies. Some of these are important sources for family history.
Image of Kinloss Kirk Session register of baptisms, 1857, NAS ref. CH2/1357/3, p4

Census returns and registers of births, marriages and deaths

The first thing to grasp about the NAS is that it does not hold civil registers of births, marriages and deaths, nor old parish registers of the Church of Scotland, nor census returns. These are all held at the General Register Office for Scotland (GROS). If you want to visit the GROS in person look at the GROS website. To find out what can be searched online, use the ScotlandsPeople website.

Family history in the NAS

If you have identified material in the NAS and want to consult this in one of the NAS buildings in Edinburgh, find out more about the NAS search rooms.

Some specific sources and indexes

The following indexes to specific sources are available on other websites:
  • Wills and testaments - the index to wills and testaments recorded in court registers by Scots 1500-1901 is now available online on the ScotlandsPeople website.
  • Highlands and Islands Emigration Society passenger lists database, 1852-1857, is now online on the Scottish Archive Network (SCAN) website.

Help with handwriting

If you are finding it difficult to read older forms of handwriting, different sources of help are listed on our palaeography page.


Privacy statement | Terms of use | Using our site | Contact us | Complaints procedure | Copyright | Back to top
Page last updated: Thursday 03 February 2011

The National Archives of Scotland, H.M. General Register House, 2 Princes Street, Edinburgh, EH1 3YY; tel +44 (0) 131 535 1314; email: