Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Scottish Calendar of Confirmations 1876-1936 joins Ancestry

Ancestry ( has uploaded an immensely useful new dataset for those with Scottish connections - Scotland, National Probate Index (Calendar of Confirmations and Inventories), 1876-1936. In essence this is Scotland's equivalent of the English and Welsh based post-1858 National Probate Calendar.

From the site:

About Scotland, National Probate Index (Calendar of Confirmations and Inventories), 1876-1936
This collection includes an index and images to the annually published Calendar of Confirmations and Inventories filed in Scotland for the years 1876–1936. In Scotland, probate records are called confirmations and they include a testament and an inventory of the estate. The testament is the court record ordering distribution of the deceased’s estate. Some included wills (testament testamentar) and some did not (testament dative), the latter being more common.

Not everyone filed testaments, as many chose to skirt the courts and just settle the moveable property within the family. The wealthy were more likely to have filed, simply because they had more property to distribute. But regardless of your ancestor’s social standing, it is worth a quick search to find out.

The calendar, which began publication in 1876, is separated into a different volume for each year. The entries in each volume are then alphabetised by surname. Information varies across different entries, but each typically includes:
  • testament date
  • full name of the deceased
  • death date and place
  • name of an executor (often a relative, but sometimes a creditor)
  • where and when the testament was recorded

Information on ordering copies of testaments and inventories can be found on the ScotlandsPeople website

The word 'probate' is actually not used in Scotland, the process here is called 'confirmation', hence the collection title in brackets (I suspect it has been given the title 'Scotland, National Probate Index' to cater for non-Scots based genealogists more familiar with that term). The full range of actual print published calendar volumes in fact goes beyond 1936 to 1959, with additional microfiche and digitised indexes beyond even this accessible at the National Records of Scotland in Edinburgh - however, this collection was sourced from the A. K. Bell Library in Perth (, which holds volumes up to 1936 only. Although there is a single volume available for each years from 1876-1920, for surnames from A-Z, the subsequent years each have two volumes, one for surnames from A-L, the second from M-Z.

Note that whilst the entries contain records from the Scottish courts (and records re-sealed from other UK courts), they may note events beyond Scotland and the UK. For example, the following is an entry for my civilian shopkeeper great grandfather David Hepburn Paton, who actually passed away during the German occupation of Brussels in Belgium, in 1916 (click to enlarge):

What also makes this collection particularly useful, and something not actually explained in Ancestry's own blurb, is that the available digitised records run on the ScotlandsPeople website ( in fact ends at 1925 - meaning that this Ancestry collection uniquely provides confirmation details online from 1926-1936.

The database is accessible at

For more on Scottish confirmation records, and the subject of Scottish inheritance in general (with a very different set of legal proceedings to those found elsewhere in the UK) please consult my article in the latest Who Do You Think You Are? magazine (November 2015 - Please note that in that article, however, the provisional web link to the collection as given to me by Ancestry when writing the article a month back is inaccurate - so please access it via the link above!

(With thanks to Bryony Partridge)


For details on my genealogy guide books, including my recently released Discover Irish Land Records and Down and Out in Scotland: Researching Ancestral Crisis, please visit My Pinterest account is at

No comments:

Post a Comment