Research Guide to the City of Edinburgh, Scotland

Research Guide to the City of Edinburgh, Scotland by Kirsty F. Wilkinson Introduction Edinburgh is something of an oddity when it comes to genealogica...
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Research Guide to the City of Edinburgh, Scotland by Kirsty F. Wilkinson Introduction Edinburgh is something of an oddity when it comes to genealogical research. It is home to the major Scottish archives, libraries and record repositories, and so is one of the most important places for researching Scottish ancestors, whatever part of Scotland they came from; but the records of the city itself have tended to be neglected and comparatively little has been written about them. Scotland has very centralised records (compared to many countries) including church, census, court and civil registration records and therefore many records of Edinburgh citizens are to be found in the national record repositories. History There is evidence that people have lived in the Edinburgh area since around 5000 BC and the name Edinburgh (in Gaelic Dùn Èideann) can be found in records from the 600s. Edinburgh was created a royal burgh (a town with trading rights and which was represented in Parliament) by 1130 by David I of Scotland and became Scotland’s capital in the 1400s. For a long time Edinburgh remained a small settlement, partly because it was enclosed in a defensive city wall. However as the population increased, buildings became taller and by the 1600s some are reputed to have had 15 storeys. In 1707 Scotland became united with England and Edinburgh lost its parliament and some of its importance. By the late 1700s Edinburgh had become overcrowded and a planned New Town was built (the original part of the city becoming known as the Old Town). Edinburgh was (and still is) a centre of learning (the University was founded in 1582) and a centre of finance. Today Edinburgh is not particularly know for its heavy industry but throughout the 19th Century it did become progressively industrialised and the population increased rapidly as workers were attracted from the surrounding rural areas, the Highlands, Ireland, England and other European countries. However, this growth was never as dramatic as that of its neighbour, Glasgow, and today Edinburgh is Scotland’s second largest city after Glasgow (and Britain’s seventh largest city). Administrative Units Despite its comparatively small size throughout most of its history, Edinburgh has a somewhat confusing array of administrative units. These are important for genealogical research because some records may only exist for a small part of what is currently defined as the City of Edinburgh. Edinburgh was originally in the County of Edinburgh (or Edinburghshire). This was officially renamed the County of Midlothian in 1890, a name which had previously been used unofficially. In 1930 the City of Edinburgh was separated from the rest of the county (c) 2013, Kirsty F. Wilkinson. All Rights Reserved.

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and became a county in its own right. This was enlarged in 1954 when an additional area was gained from Midlothian In 1975 counties were abolished in Scotland for local government purposes and the City of Edinburgh is now a unitary council area governed by the City of Edinburgh Council. Edinburgh Sheriff Court has been the county court since the 1500s (and is now the court of the Sheriffdom of Lothian and Borders of which Edinburgh is a part). Modern Edinburgh covers an area which once included three royal burghs: Edinburgh, Canongate and Leith (although large parts were not in any of these burghs). Canongate and Leith later became burghs of barony (a lesser status) and were eventually absorbed into Edinburgh. Other burghs of barony within the area were Portsburgh, Cramond, Restalrig & Calton and Wester Duddingston, although several of these appear to have existed for only a brief time. Burghs had a different administrative system from other parts of Scotland: they were governed by a provost and bailies, held courts, sometimes had their own registers of deeds and sasines (property records) and citizens could become burgesses - all of which created records. There were also parliamentary burghs (for elections) and, from 1833, police burghs (for policing the town) which often had the same names but not necessarily exactly the same boundaries as the existing burghs. As far as the Old Parish Registers (the registers of the Established Church) goes, Edinburgh consists of the following parishes: Edinburgh, Canongate, St. Cuthbert’s, Leith North, Leith South, Colinton, Corstorphine, Cramond, Duddingston and Liberton. However, the Parish of Edinburgh was sub-divided into many smaller parishes the names and number of which varied over time but which by the 1800s were: Tolbooth, High Church, Trinity College, St. Johns, New North, Tron, Old Church, New Greyfriars, Old Greyfriars and Lady Yester’s. The part of St. Cuthbert’s Parish covering the New Town was sub-divided into St. Stephen’s, St. Mary’s, St. George’s and St. Andrew’s and other parishes were created as new suburbs grew up. These sub-parishes didn’t keep their own parish registers (prior to 1855) but in some cases kept their own kirk session records. The parish was a civil administrative unit as well as an ecclesiastical one and in Scotland formed the basis of civil registration districts and census enumeration districts. However, as needs changed, the civil parishes and the ecclesiastical ones often ended up with different boundaries.

Map showing parishes within the Old (highlighted in red) and New (in blue) Towns of Edinburgh Source:

(c) 2013, Kirsty F. Wilkinson. All Rights Reserved.

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Repositories ScotlandsPeople Centre The public searchroom of the General Register Office for Scotland providing access to digital images of statutory birth, marriage and death records 1855-present, census records 1841-1911, Old Parish Registers 1553-1854, and Wills & Testaments 1513-1901 for the whole of Scotland. There is also a collection of ‘miscellaneous records’ on microfilm which mainly consists of copy or duplicate records of the Old Parish Registers, including a number for Edinburgh. Address: 2 Princes Street, Edinburgh EH1 3YY Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 09.00-16.30 Cost: £15 GBP per day (booking in advance advised) Website: - most of these records (excluding modern and miscellaneous records) are available through the pay-per-view website National Records of Scotland The National Records of Scotland holds a number of collections relating to Edinburgh churches including records of Kirk Sessions of individual churches, the Presbytery of Edinburgh (1586-2005), the Synod of Lothian and Tweeddale (1589-1992), secessionist churches in Edinburgh, and records of other religious denominations including Episcopalians and Roman Catholics. Other major collections include records of Edinburgh Burgh (1482-1927), Edinburgh Commissary Court (1514-1859), Edinburgh Sheriff Court (1569-1985), Edinburgh prison registers (1657-1996), Justices of the Peace for the City of Edinburgh (1613-1967), some Edinburgh, Canongate & Leith crafts and trades (1477C20th), Edinburgh, Canongate, Leith & Midlothian tax records (1600s-1800s) and Edinburgh Valuation Rolls (1855-1989). Address: 2 Princes Street, Edinburgh EH1 3YY Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 09.00-16.30 (some material held offsite which needs to be ordered 24 hours in advance) Website: Edinburgh City Archives Edinburgh City Archives is responsible for the records of the City of Edinburgh Council and its predecessors dating back to the 1400s. The archives also collects historical records relating to Edinburgh and the surrounding area including church, school, police, army and craft & trade records. Despite the age of the records, there was no archivist appointed to look after them until the 1980s and an independent audit carried out in 2005 concluded that the Council was not making proper arrangements for its records. A basic list of the archives’ holdings (SL Collections and ED Collections) can be downloaded from its website, along with an Aliens Registers Index (1798-1825) and index to St Cuthbert’s Parochial Board Paupers Claims (1850-1852). A slightly more detailed description of the archives’ holdings can be found in the Scottish Archive Network online catalogue ( although for full details it is necessary to consult the paper catalogues held at the archives itself and some material has never been catalogued in any form. Address: Level 1, City Chambers, 253 High Street, Edinburgh EH1 1YJ Opening Hours: Tue, Wed & Thur 09.00-13.00 and 14.00-16.30 Website: (c) 2013, Kirsty F. Wilkinson. All Rights Reserved.

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Edinburgh Central Library: Edinburgh & Scottish Collections Edinburgh Central Library houses the (recently-combined) Edinburgh and Scottish collections. These include hundreds of books on Edinburgh history, churches, clubs, societies, industries and institutions. A large part of the collection is held in the stacks rather than on the open shelves and for books published pre-1980 it is necessary to consult the card catalogue as these have not been added to the electronic catalogue. Other indexes and finding aids include a maps street index, press cuttings index, indexes to images (prints, lantern slides, postcards, transparencies etc.), a broadside index, newspaper index, theatre programme index and the Boog-Watson Notes (compiled by an Edinburgh historian). The library also has a large collection of Edinburgh newspapers and directories on microfilm, maps, valuation rolls (1855-1989) and council tax records. Many (although not all) images from the library’s collection can be viewed online on the ‘Capital Collections’ website. Address: George IV Bridge, Edinburgh EH1 1EG Opening Hours: Mon-Thur 10.00-20.00, Fri 10.00-17.00, Sat 09.00-13.00 Websites: National Library of Scotland The National Library of Scotland is Scotland’s legal deposit library and holds millions of rare books, including a large number relating to Edinburgh history. The library also houses a manuscript collection which includes original records of some Edinburgh crafts and trades (some dating from the 1500s), the Edinburgh printing industry and Edinburgh clubs and societies. Housed in a separate building, the map library holds around 2 million items over 20,000 of which are available online (including a number of early maps of Edinburgh). The library has made a large part of its collection of historical post office directories available online as digital images. These include 128 directories for Edinburgh covering the period 1773-1912 (see Address: Main Library - George IV Bridge, Edinburgh EH1 1EW Map Library - 159 Causewayside, Edinburgh EH9 1PH

Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 09.30-20.30, Sat 09.30-13.00 Websites: and

Scottish Genealogy Society Library & Family History Centre Unlike most areas of Scotland, Edinburgh doesn’t have a dedicated family history society. This may be because it is home to the Scottish Genealogy Society. Edinburgh is probably better represented in the society’s library than any other part of Scotland and as the most active members live in Edinburgh, many of the society’s publications do relate to Edinburgh records. However, as the society does attempt to provide information on the whole of Scotland (and on the Scots overseas) there is a limited amount of Edinburghspecific information. The main Edinburgh collections in the library are microfilms of Edinburgh parish registers, published books on Edinburgh history, some indexes to Edinburgh records including tax records, burgess rolls and church records, and a large collection of monumental inscriptions, some of which are unpublished and not available elsewhere. Address: 15 Victoria Terrace, Edinburgh EH1 2JL Opening Hours: Mon, Tue & Thur 10.30-17.30, Wed 10.30-19.30, Sat 10.00-17.00 (daily fee payable by non-members) Website:

(c) 2013, Kirsty F. Wilkinson. All Rights Reserved.

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Edinburgh University & Lothian Health Services Archives The library of Edinburgh University is home to the Centre for Research Collections which includes several separate archives. The University Archives hold the records of the University of Edinburgh and its affiliates including the Royal Dick Veterinary College, Moray House College of Education and Edinburgh College of Art. Some material dates from the 16th century onwards but the bulk of material dates from the 19th century. The Lothian Health Services Archive (LHSA) is the largest NHS (National Health Service) archive in Britain. Its holdings include the historical records of the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, dating from the late seventeenth century, and other hospitals in the Lothian Health Board area. Documents includes patient records as well as material relating to doctors, nurses and non-medical hospital staff. The LHSA website includes several guides for family history researchers as well as source lists and an electronic catalogue. Address: Main Library, University of Edinburgh, George Square, Edinburgh EH8 9LJ Opening Hours: Mon-Wed 09.00-19.00 (term time) 09.00-17.00 (vacation time) Thur-Fri 09.00-17.00 (making an appointment in advance advised) Websites: and Record Losses The major record loss suffered in Edinburgh is that of poor relief records. The majority of these, including applications for poor relief and poorhouse records, were destroyed in the 1970s. There are, however, parochial board and workhouse minute books and a few surviving lists of poor and some individuals may also be recorded in hospital and health records. The survival of school records is very patchy, many of the private schools have published lists of former pupils whilst a number of the state schools have no surviving records at all. Published Sources The Scottish Record Society has produced a number of transcripts of Edinburgh records, including parish registers, lists of burgesses, apprentices, and poll tax returns (older publications are available on and the Scottish Burgh Record Society has published various extracts from Edinburgh burgh records. The Old Edinburgh Club is the Edinburgh local history society and has produced over 40 volumes of historical articles and source material on Edinburgh history in ‘The Book of the Old Edinburgh Club’. The Scottish Genealogy Society publishes ‘The Scottish Genealogist’ journal which regularly includes articles relevant to Edinburgh (an index for 1953-2005 is available on the society’s website) and has also produced booklets and CDs of Edinburgh monumental inscriptions. Edinburgh Central Library has copies of most of these published sources. Most online databases and digital collections of Edinburgh records are available through the websites of the local repositories and have been mentioned above. An additional online resource is which currently has scanned and indexed images of burial registers for Seafield Cemetery (1888-2011), Seafield Crematorium (1939-2009) and Warriston Crematorium (1929-2009). DeceasedOnline have already digitised some other Edinburgh burial registers which it is hoped will be added to the site in the future.

(c) 2013, Kirsty F. Wilkinson. All Rights Reserved.

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Further Information FamilySearch Wiki has a useful list of Edinburgh Kirk Session records at and of Edinburgh N o n c o n f o r m i s t C h u r c h R e c o r d s a t w w w. f a m i l y s e a r c h . o r g / l e a r n / w i k i / e n / Edinburgh_Nonconformist_Church_Records (also separate lists of similar information for other parishes now within the City of Edinburgh). The GENUKI page for Edinburgh at isn’t very detailed but contains a few useful links For further details of Edinburgh death and burial records see the Appendix below.

Extract of a map of Edinburgh by James Gordon published c.1647 Source:

(c) 2013, Kirsty F. Wilkinson. All Rights Reserved.

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APPENDIX - Death and Burial Records for the City of Edinburgh (Note: This list was originally produced in 2010 as part of an assignment for a genealogical studies course.) The City of Edinburgh Council - Bereavement Services Address: Mortonhall Crematorium, 30B Howdenhall Road, Edinburgh, EH16 6TX Website: cemeteries_and_churchyards Cemeteries and Churchyards within the jurisdiction of the City of Edinburgh Council Name Buccleuch Churchyard Old Calton Burial Ground New Calton Burial Ground Canongate Churchyard Colinton Churchyard Corstorphine Churchyard Corstorphine Hill Cemetery Comely Bank Cemetery Cramond Churchyard Currie Churchyard Dalry Cemetery Duddingston Churchyard Gogar Churchyard Grange Cemetery Greyfriars Churchyard

Address Buccleuch Street Waterloo Place Regent Road Canongate Spylaw Street Corstorphine High Street Drum Brae South/North Crewe Road South Cramond Glebe Road Kirkgate, off Lanark Road West Dalry Road Duddingston Village Glasgow Road Beaufort Road Candlemaker Row

Kirkliston Cemetery North Leith Churchyard South Leith Churchyard

The Square Coburg Street Kirkgate, Leith

Liberton Cemetery Morningside Cemetery Mortonhall Cemetery Newington

Liberton Brae Morningside Drive Howdenhall Road Dalkeith Road

North Merchiston Cemetery Portobello Cemetery East Preston Street Cemetery Ratho Cemetery Restalrig Cemetery

Slateford Road Milton Road East East Preston Street Ratho Village, Freelands Road Restalrig Road South

(c) 2013, Kirsty F. Wilkinson. All Rights Reserved.

Interment Records held no details found 1857-present 1857-present 1855-present 1855-present 1899-present 1928-1990 + 1994-present 1897-1990 + 1994-present 1855-present 1887-present 1846-present 1855-present see Corstorphine Churchyard 1846-present Interments 1861-present Sale of graves 1590-1838 1928-present 1855-1905 1731-present Tombs 1753-1831 1862-present 1878-present 1960-present 1846-1931 + 1994-present Sale of graves 1843-1970 1874-1990 + 1994-present 1877-present 1820-present 1899-present 1855-present 7 of10

Rosebank Cemetery Saughton Cemetery St Cuthberts Churchyard South Queensferry Cemetery Warriston Cemetery Jewish Cemetery Wauchope Burial Ground Dalmeny Churchyard South Queensferry Vennel Mortonhall Crematorium

Pilrig Street Chesser Loan King's Stables Road Ferriemuir Lane Warriston Gardens Sciennes House Place Greendykes Road Dalmeny Village South Queensferry Howdenhall Road

1846-present 1919-1990 + 1994-present 1833-present 1898-present 1843-present No records held No records held see South Queensferry, not all Interments recorded No records held 1967-present

Note: Records are poor on occasions, particularly later records for Comely Bank and Saughton Cemeteries, due to fire damage in the premises of previous owners. Private Cemeteries Dean Cemetery Dean Cemetery Trust Ltd, Dean Cemetery, Dean Path, Edinburgh EH4 3AT Mount Vernon Cemetery St Mary's Catholic Cathedral House, 61 York Place, Edinburgh EH1 3JD Edinburgh Eastern Piershill Cemetery Edinburgh Eastern Cemetery Co. Ltd, 200 Piersfield Terrace, Edinburgh EH8 7BN Warriston Crematorium, Seafield Crematorium, Seafield Cemetery Edinburgh Crematorium Co. Ltd, The Lodge, Seafield Cemetery, Seafield Place, Edinburgh EH6 7QP (records now available through Edinburgh City Archives Address: Level 1, City Chambers, High Street, Edinburgh EH1 1YJ Website: Burial records: SL92 Greyfriar's Church Burial records SL130 St Cuthbert's Church Burial Records

1771-1864 1780-1890

Church registers which include some burials: ED10 Old St Paul's Episcopal Church SL67 St Mark's Episcopal Congregation ED2 St Paul's and St George's Church accn706 St Peter's Episcopal Church

1735-1969 1828-1978 1712-1988 1807-1977

Information from other sources but no details found on City Archives website: (c) 2013, Kirsty F. Wilkinson. All Rights Reserved.

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'The City Archives holds the records of the Edinburgh Cemetery Company which includes Warriston, Dalry, Saughton, Newington, North Merchiston, Corstorphine Hill and Comely Bank burials grounds.' The Edinburgh Room, Central Library Address: Central Library, George IV Bridge, Edinburgh, EH1 1EG Website: using_other_family_history_resources/6 Published burial records: Grant, Francis J. (ed.) (1908) Index to the Register of Burials in the Churchyard of Restalrig 1728-1854. Edinburgh: Scottish Record Society. Paton, Henry (ed.) (1902) Register of Interments in the Greyfriars Burying-Ground, Edinburgh 1658-1700. Edinburgh: Scottish Record Society. Scottish Record Society (1900) Register of burials in the Chapel Royal or Abbey of Holyrood house, 1706-1900. Edinburgh: Scottish Record Society. Monumental inscriptions: • Old Calton and New Calton • Canongate Churchyard and Holyrood Chapel Royal • St. John’s Episcopal Churchyard • Buccleuch Burial Ground, Jewish Burial Ground, Quaker Burial Ground • Greyfriars • North Leith, New North Leith, South Leith • Portobello Old Church, St Mark’s Episcopal Church, Piershill Cemetery Jewish inscriptions • Restalrig Church • Colinton Churchyard • Comely Bank Cemetery • Corstorphine Old Parish Churchyard • Cramond Kirk • St. Cuthbert’s Kirk • Dean Cemetery • Friends Burial Place • Duddingston Kirk • Morningside Cemetery • Newington Cemetery • Greendykes, Inveresk, Liberton, Newton and Newton Old • Warriston Cemetery • East Preston Street Cemetery ScotlandsPeople Centre Address: HM General Register House 2 Princes Street Edinburgh EH1 3YY Website: Death and burial records: transcripts and indexes of pre-1855 registers: Buccleuch Church Canongate Dalry Cemetery Greyfriars Holyrood (Chapel Royal or Abbey)

1820-1854 1744-1862 1846-1854 1658-1860 1706-1900

(c) 2013, Kirsty F. Wilkinson. All Rights Reserved.

MP 022.004 OPR 6853/41-43 MP 022.005 OPR 6851/102-11 SH 015.000.25 9 of10

St Cuthbert's (OPR 6852)

1820-1829 1830-1839 1840-1849

Monumental Inscriptions: Selection of inscriptions (Charles Rogers) Selection of inscriptions (Monteith) 'Silences that speak' 'Some Edinburgh MIs' (J F Mitchell, 1963) Braid place Jewish burial ground Buccleuch Calton - new Calton - old Canongate Colinton - selection (Monteith) Comely Bank Corstorphine - selection (Monteith) Corstorphine Dean Duddingston East Preston Street (formerly Newington) Gogar Greendykes Greyfriars Holyrood Holy Trinity Jewish burial ground (Braid place) Lady Glenorchy's Chapel Lady Yester's Church Leith (North) Leith (South) Liberton - selection (Monteith) Liberton Magdalene Chapel Morningside Newington Cemetery Piershill Cemetery Portobello - Old Portobello - St Mark's Episcopal Quaker Restalrig St Cuthbert's St Giles St John's Episcopal Church (West End)

(c) 2013, Kirsty F. Wilkinson. All Rights Reserved.

MP 022.001 MP 022.002 MP 022.003

MI 001.000.01 MI 002.000 MI 440.010 MI 440.020 MI 440.000.03; MI 570.100.01 MI 440.000.03; MI 440.010; MI 440.020 MI 440.000.01; MI 440.010; MI 440.600 MI 440.000.01; MI 440.010; MI 440.020 MI 440.000.02; MI 440.010; MI 440.020 MI 002.000 (p82) MI 440.080 MI 002.000 (p82-3) MI 003.600 MI 440.100 MI 430.000; MI 436.800 MI 440.010; MI 440.200; MI 440.201 MI 003.700 MI 430.000 MI 440.000.04; MI 440.010; MI 440.020 MI 440.000.02; MI 440.020 MI 440.010 MI 440.000.03; MI 570.100.01 MI 440.010 MI 440.010 MI 003.000; MI 440.400 MI 440.400 MI 002.000 (p80) MI 430.000 MI 440.010 MI 400.500; MI 440.505 Stand alone PC1 MI 450.000 MI 450.000 MI 003.000; MI 450.000 MI 440.000.03 MI 450.000 MI 440.010; SH 015.000.47 MI 440.010 MI 440.000.03; MI 440.020

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