1855 Scottish Certificate.


Cathrine Nicol, my fourth great-grandmother died in 1855 at Newfargie in the parish of Arngask, in the County of Fife. I will be writing more about Catherine later.


How could I be excited about a death? Don’t get me wrong, it is a sad time – any death is…

My excitement was because of the year in which the death occurred.

In 1855, all Scottish certificates showed much more information. This only occurred in this particular year from 1st January.

A copy of the certificate is shown below: It may be too small to see all the details here. However, the information obtained from it is beneficial.

Due to its large size, the death certificate has been split in two.

How has it assisted my research?

This death certificate is of Cathrine’s husband, William. He died in 1863.

You may see some of the differences yourself. Besides the certificate size, no children are listed, his second wife is listed but not his first (Cathrine), no place of birth nor how long he lived in the county, nor the buried place and undertaker involved.

Why was it changed?

The level of detail was too much so from 1856 onward records were simplified. One thing to note is, certificates have more detail than those of England and Wales.


Of all the certificates within my collection, this is a favourite – if you can have a favourite certificate!

Certificate Differences in 1855.

Birth: Recorded previous children born to the mother showing the number and gender. This included both living and those who had died.

Marriage: The DOB of the bride and groom are shown plus any children by previous marriages.

I am sure that there are other details that I may have missed but you get a general idea.


The date of the extracts of both certificates are in November 1983.

Both certificates are extract entries from The Registration of Birth, Deaths and Marriages (Scotland) Act 1965. The entries have been extracted from the Parish of Arngask in the County of Fife.

Obtaining Scottish Certificates.

Like all certificates, they cost money. Please make sure you have the correct information before making a purchase. My advice is, if you’re not sure, do not purchase the certificate.

Check out the National Records of Scotland website: www.nrscotland.gov.uk

Read the Research and Record Keeping tabs from the menu. These areas will give you very useful information. In particular, within the Research area, the Family History guide provides good information.

I would suggest, having a look around the website and discover what is good for you. You are the only one who knows what you are looking for and in the end, you will be the person most likely doing the research.

Have fun… Discover and Explore…


  1. I’ve also come across a couple of these 1855 certificates and they are certainly rich in additional information. Just a shame they stopped doing them! I would also recommend the ScotlandsPeople website [https://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/] from where you can search and download certificates (providing you don’t need certified copies) and other resources. This is a ‘purchase credits’ based payment system – all explained on the site.


  2. Hi Rod,
    Just getting time to read your latest post. Good one again! Wondering why you didn’t include ScotlandsPeople under “Obtaining Scottish Certificates”. Images can be downloaded (for historical events) for 6 credits (about $3).

    How did your team go last night? Some of the questions were not easy! Glenn was keeping track of our scores. We managed to score 30 out of 60 (not including the flags & coats of arms). We started out well, but went downhill from there 😞 It was a fun night, though.



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