Find your ancestors in Scotland Pre-1841 Censuses and Population Lists

Learn more about your Scottish ancestors in the years before the 1841 census through these early census records and parish lists from Jedburgh, Greenlaw, Ladykirk, Melrose, Applegarth, and Sibbaldbie.

The transcripts have been created from a number of census records and parish lists from six parishes in Scotland. Graham and Emma Maxwell created the transcripts from original material held in the National Records of Scotland. The details recorded in each census and parish list will vary, but most records will include a combination of the following facts:

  • Name
  • Year
  • Birth place
  • Occupation
  • Address
  • Residence parish
  • Residence county
  • Residence country
  • Source parish
  • Source county
  • Source country
  • Source name
  • Page
  • Archive
  • Archive reference

Census records will include the names of other household members. The parish lists will only include the name of one individual.

Discover more about these records

The census records and parish lists found in Scotland, pre-1841 censuses and population lists are held at the National Records of Scotland. They are kept among the Church of Scotland records. Each transcript provides you with an archival reference that you can use to access the material. Most of the censuses and parish lists were created by parish Kirk Sessions. For example, the Jedburgh Burgh 1831 Census was created by the Jedburgh Kirk Sessions in June 1831 and lists the names of residents and their occupations. The Greenlaw Lists from 1837 to 1841 are lists of person who have come into Greenlaw parish; therefore, in these transcripts the residence and the source parish are different. The residence listed is the individual’s previous parish.

The Kirk Sessions are the lowest of the church courts in the Presbyterian Church. The session is made up of a group of elected church elders. Until 1845, they were responsible for governing the local parish and oversaw parish relief. It was in their interest to keep up-to-date lists of the parish residents, their occupations, and, in some cases, their birth places.