What's New on Scottish Indexes

Scottish Paternity Index Expanded
4 December 2023

Records from across Scotland have been added to the Scottish Paternity Index; see a breakdown of coverage here.

These are vital cases that can unlock long-kept family secrets. If a woman was unmarried and had a child she could take the father of the child to court to force him to pay maintenance of the child.

This update includes Forfar Sheriff Court cases 1826-1828 (extracted and unextracted) which Emma has been working through for a few months.

Searching these without an index requires working through unindexed boxes of folded paperwork. Although looking for one specific case, Emma has taken note of all ‘paternity’ cases and these have now been added to our index. Hopefully these will help a few people solve a mystery.

For example; Ann Hogg, daughter of John Hogg, Newtonleys, Kincardineshire took George Clark, mason in Forfar to court. She had a child on 16 February 1827.

Meanwhile, another case shows that Ann Matthew, wife of James Laurence, a weaver at Fraserfield near Arbroath took Peter Dures, Wright in Ground of Almeriecloss, Arbroath to court in 1828. Ann had given birth to her son James on 3 February 1822. Perhaps James Laurence was not very keen on paying for another man’s child. The records show that Ann and James had a daughter Barbara in 1826 then a son David in 1827. Perhaps the growing family meant that funds were very tight.

This update includes 1,143 cases from across Scotland. If you have not used these records before you will find help in our Learning Zone.

Search over half a million prison register entries on scottishindexes.com
24 November 2023

Over 180,000 prison register entries added from 10 Scottish prisons:

Dunbar (1844-1878)
Edinburgh Bridewell (1818-1823)
Edinburgh Police Prison (1841-1841)
Linlithgow (1849-1849)
Ayr (1897-1905)
Campbeltown (1840-1895)
Duke Street (1845-1871,1887-1895)
Paisley (1848-1864)
Aberdeen (1905-1911)
Dundee (1922-1927)

This brings the total number of entries in our prison index to over half a million. Of course, this is only part of Scotland's Criminal Database. In total you can search over 800,000 criminal records on our website.

The Court of Session
9 September 2023

Within the Court of Session records are a variety of what we could call civil court cases. For example, we find people being pursued for unpaid debts. We also find divorce cases and other matters relating to marriage and separation, as well as cases relating to the guardianship of children.

These can be very useful for family historians. Not only can they give us genealogical information which we may not be able to find anywhere else but they can also tell us a story. Our index contains over 600,000 entries and is free to search.

If you find an entry relating to your research you have the option to use our service or you can view the original in the National Records of Scotland. Not used Court of Session records before and want to find out more? Visit our Learning Zone.

Crown Office Opinions
9 September 2023

Emma was very excited to release an index to the Crown Office Opinions!

This is a fascinating insight into early 19th-century cases that didn not go to trial. The Crown Office Procedure Books index covers all cases referred to the Crown Office for an opinion. This includes all High Court and all Sheriff Court jury trial cases as well as others that went to court.

What about the cases that did not go to trial?

Here we have the case of Elizabeth Trainer or Cook in 1825. Note that there were ‘No proceedings’. What did Elizabeth do? Why was the case not taken to court? Can we find out more about Elizabeth? If this is your ancestor I am sure you would want to know more!

Catalogued just as 'Opinions' and referenced AD13 by the National Records of Scotland, Emma has uncovered a hidden treasure trove of information. So far it appears that all cases that were returned as ‘No proceedings’ between 1825 and 1833 have paperwork in the AD13 files. Emma will continue her research into the post-1833 records to assess what survives.

What then about Elizabeth Trainer or Cook, what's her story?

The Crown Office Procedure Book (AD9/1 p. 17) tells us that the Crown Office received her case on 20 January 1825. Her crime? Assault. The Jurisdiction is given as Edinburgh. On the 25th of January 1825 her case was returned with the opinion 'No Proceedings'. Although interesting, it doesn't tell us a great deal.

AD13/35 are Edinburgh Opinions for January 1825. Within this record we discover a lot more. We read in the petition:

"That on Wednesday last the 5th of January Current when Hugh Johnston, Pensioner at present in Edinburgh was in the house of John Cook, Packman Residing in Walkers Close, Grass Market of Edinburgh, Elizabeth Trainer or Cook wife of the said John Cook, did wickedly and maliciously assault and attack the said Hugh Johnston and strike him violently on the head with a bottle, whereby he is severely cut and wounded to the effusion of his blood and danger of his life and if he dies she will be guilty of the crime of murder; in these circumstances the present application is made to your Lordship to the effect aftermentioned".

On 10 January 1828 a doctor provided a medical certificate and stated that "Hugh Johnston Petitioner lies Dangerously ill in consequence of two severe Wounds on his Head - he is fit to be examined, Altho’ I am of the Opinion he is somewhat Intoxicated". Given the gravity of the situation, why were there 'No proceedings'?

We read, "This is a most unintelligible case - The woman accused seems clearly to have been innocent & the injur'd person".

The Crown Office opinions certainly give us a lot more insight into these cases.

Search these as part of Scotland's Criminal Database. If you find a case you can use our service or visit the National Record of Scotland and view the original records for yourself.