Robert Burns (1759-1796) – the Poet

Robert Burns is the last of the four Famous Scots from the Past featured in our Fringe Festival exhibition this year. With limited space available, the challenge has been to choose a single document that helps us get closer to Scotland’s national poet.

We started by considering how the official records, in which NRS is so strong, could help tell part of the poet’s remarkable life.  By contrast with other archives and libraries which look after manuscripts of his poems and songs, NRS has little direct evidence of his creative life.

Would we choose the record of his birth and baptism in the Alloway parish register (one of the thousands of pre-1855 ‘Old Parish Registers’), or look to the end of his life, using the inventory of his estate, and court records, to trace how his affairs were handled for the benefit of his widow and children? Or should we explore his career as an exciseman, which can be charted in the Exchequer and other records? Continue reading “Robert Burns (1759-1796) – the Poet”

Annual Review – Population & Migration

Each year since 1855, National Records of Scotland has published “Scotland’s Population”, providing an annual overview of the latest demographic trends. In this post, statistician Daniel Burns summarises the latest migration trends in Scotland.

Scotland’s population is at its highest recorded level of 5.4 million, growing by 5% over the past ten years. This increase has been driven by migration.

Before the turn of the century, Scotland was predominantly a country of net out-migration, with more people leaving to live elsewhere than moving to live in Scotland. A few years of net in-migration were first recorded in the early 1990’s. Since 2001, Scotland has been in a period of net in-migration with more people moving to live in Scotland than leaving. In the year to 30th June 2016, the number of people moving to Scotland exceeded the number leaving by around 31,700 (up 3,700 on the year previous). Continue reading “Annual Review – Population & Migration”

A tale of a Government cat

Archive cat image
An illustration of the Exchequer Cat at work, from the 1950s.

While the exploits of Whitehall Cats – Palmerston and Larry most recently – have been recently making the news, cats in Government employ are nothing new. In fact, here at National Records of Scotland, we have evidence of a feline curiosity – a cat tasked with protecting records more than three centuries ago.

The Exchequer Office in Parliament Close, Edinburgh, set up in 1708, initially had problems with records being ‘greatly damnified, eaten and destroyed by rates and myce’. After giving the matter some thought, doorkeeper Robert Morison decided that perhaps a cat might give the rodents pause. Continue reading “A tale of a Government cat”

Annual Review – Life Expectancy

Each year since 1855, National Records of Scotland has published the Registrar General’s Annual Review, providing an annual overview of the latest demographic trends.

NRS statistician Maria Kaye summarises what we know about life expectancy in Scotland, as found in “Scotland’s Population 2016” – the 162nd Annual Review.

The most recent life expectancy figures published by the National Records of Scotland tell us that a baby girl born in Scotland around 2014 could expect to live for 81.1 years while a baby boy could expect to live until he was 77.1 years old.

Over the past three decades, life expectancy has steadily improved – increasing by 8.0 years for males and by 5.8 years for females since around 1981. The gap between male and female life expectancy has also decreased over the period, from a gap of 6.2 years for those born around 1981 to a gap of 4.1 years for those born around 2014. Continue reading “Annual Review – Life Expectancy”

Annual Review – Scotland’s Households

Each year since 1855, National Records of Scotland has published the Registrar General’s Annual Review of Demographic Trends, an overview of all the statistics we have gathered.

NRS statistician Amelia Brereton summarises our findings on Scotland’s households, as found in Scotland’s Population 2016 – the 162nd Annual Review.

 

Scotland’s population is growing and ageing. This has affected both the total number of households in Scotland and the most common types of household.

Older people are more likely to live on their own, or with just one other person. This means that as the number of older people in the population has gone up, so has the number of these smaller household types.

According to our latest estimates from the Scottish Household Survey, one-person households are now the most common type of household in Scotland. We estimate that nearly 900,000 people in Scotland are living alone, many of whom will be older people. Continue reading “Annual Review – Scotland’s Households”

Scotland’s Changing Population

National Records of Scotland (NRS) today publishesScotland’s Population 2016 – the Registrar General’s Annual Review of Demographic Trends’, alongside an infographic booklet which summarises the key trends in Scotland’s population.

Tim Ellis, the Registrar General of Scotland, said:

“The population of Scotland is at its highest ever at 5.4 million. It has grown by 5% over the last 10 years. The majority of this growth has been due to migration as natural change (births minus deaths) has not contributed significantly to Scotland’s population growth.

“Most recently, 31,700 more people came to Scotland than left (net migration over the year to 30 June 2016) – made up of a net gain of 22,900 people from overseas and 8,800 people from the rest of the UK. The majority of migrants to Scotland are young, with 52% aged 18 to 32 years.

“Overall Scotland’s population has continued to age over the past decade, with the greatest increases in the population in the older age groups. Over the next 25 years, there is a projected increase of 28% in the number of pensioners in Scotland, compared to an increase of just 1% in the number of people of working age. This has implications for funding allocations, tax revenues, pensions, education, health and social care provision.”

 

Scotland’s population is projected to age
Scotland’s population is projected to age

 The report is a compendium that brings together key demographic information from a range of publications produced by NRS. It has been produced every year since 1855. It covers population, births, deaths, life expectancy, migration, marriages and civil partnerships, adoptions, households and housing.

Continue reading “Scotland’s Changing Population”

New PRSA Assessment Mechanism

Under the Public Records (Scotland) Act 2011(PRSA) the Keeper of the Records of Scotland, NRS’ chief executive Tim Ellis, assesses and agrees records management plans submitted by public authorities. Over 150 plans have been agreed to date, the majority under improvement. The PRSA Assessment Team, in consultation with our stakeholders, have now developed a user-friendly tool to facilitate the capture, and review, of the continuous improvements in recordkeeping being made by authorities following agreement of their plans.

First mooted in 2015 and subsequently piloted by East Lothian Council in late 2016, the Progress Update Review (PUR) mechanism is currently being rolled out to Scotland’s public authorities. The issuing of a template reflecting the original assessment of an agreed plan enables authorities to demonstrate where changes have occurred and new policies have been instituted, help them identify where further resources and work is required, and highlight the general progress in recordkeeping they are effecting. Continue reading “New PRSA Assessment Mechanism”

Mary, Queen of Scots (1542-1587)

 

“The daughter of debate that discord aye doth sow”
Elizabeth I, from her sonnet ‘The Doubt of Future Foes’
referring to Mary Queen of Scots

During her lifetime Mary Queen of Scots was a highly controversial monarch and she continues to divide opinion today. When we consider her reign, we often focus on the tragedy of her captivity and execution. These events tend to colour how we view her life, as if its trajectory was an inevitable journey towards the executioner’s block. This is not helped by the two melancholy portraits of Mary which are the most well-known: Clouet’s portrait of her in her white mourning (‘deuil blanc’) after the death of her first husband, Francis II, and the posthumous portrait showing the Queen as a Catholic martyr, now in the Blairs Museum. In the early years of her personal reign in Scotland, however, her success and personal popularity were such that no-one could have predicted her end. Continue reading “Mary, Queen of Scots (1542-1587)”

Sir William Arrol (1839-1913) – The Engineer

B104_83_00001 CROP
Sir William Arrol aged 70, printed in ‘Sir William Arrol: A Memoir’ by Robert Purvis

A titan of engineering and construction, William Arrol established his company in the early 1870s, when Glasgow was developing as an industrial city and the revolutionary Siemens Martin process was enabling the mass production of cheap steel. Arrol made his name with the construction of the Forth Bridge (1890), and is also known for the second Tay Bridge (1887), Tower Bridge in London and elsewhere. Continue reading “Sir William Arrol (1839-1913) – The Engineer”

Madeleine Hamilton Smith (1835-1928) – The Accused

Madeleine Smith Snapshot
Portrait taken in court of Madeleine Smith from ‘The Trial of Madeleine Smith’ (National Records of Scotland, L034.087)

 

On 30 June 1857 the trial of Madeleine Smith began. A young woman from a prosperous Glasgow family, Smith was charged with, on three separate occasions, administering arsenic or other poison to Pierre Emile L’Angelier with intent to kill, twice in February and once in March 1857. It was this accusation and the subsequent trial which brought to light the great volume of letters which had secretly passed between them. Presented as evidence of  Madeleine and Emile’s relationship and meetings, these letters formed a core part of the trial, and because of their frank expressions of desire and affection, they scandalised and excited the Victorian public of the time. Continue reading “Madeleine Hamilton Smith (1835-1928) – The Accused”