The Kirk Session Records from the National Records of Scotland are available for the first time to the public

ScotlandsPeople has just announced that the Kirk Session Records from the National Records of Scotland have been digitised and are now available for the first time to view on the ScotlandsPeople website: www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk.

These images are now available to view and download from ScotlandsPeople and include more than a million pages from the kirk sessions and other court records of the Church of Scotland. These records contain details of key events in communities across the country between 1559 and 1900 and are one of the most important sources for Scottish historical research.

The kirk session – the local court of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland – comprised the minister, the elders and a session clerk. The records they created offer remarkable insights into the everyday lives of ordinary Scots, capturing important moments such as births, marriages and deaths. The church court also adjudicated on the paternity of children, awarded relief to the poor and needy and provided basic education, as well as disciplining parishioners for what could be called anti-social behaviour – drunkenness, cursing and breaking the Sabbath. The most commonly known punishment was public repentance or penance.
The newly added records document how people dealt with exceptional historical events such as wars, epidemics, crop failures and extreme weather.

The volumes are free to view, but are not indexed though there are date tabs to narrow the area to be searched. Downloads require ScotlandsPeople credits.

Picture: Dallas kirk session, extract from list of population of parish, June 1811 (National Records of Scotland, CH2/1129/2, page 25)

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