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”

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”

Connecticut Connection

National Records of Scotland is known for its records, research and other artefacts, but we also hold a number of antiques at various buildings around Edinburgh.

One interesting example is a chiming clock which hangs on the wall in a meeting room at West Register House, Charlotte Square. This clock, a Chauncey Jerome, was recently repaired by a specialist and is still in working order despite being over 150 years old.  The clock was manufactured in New Haven, Connecticut, by the Jerome Manufacturing Company, most likely in the 1840s, and its history is quite interesting.

Jerome Chauncey Clock

The clock was gifted to the Scottish Record Office, one of our predecessor bodies, in the early 1970s, although there are competing stories about the precise circumstances.

Jerome Post 2One is that a former Deputy Keeper, John Bates, bought it in an antiques shop as a gift for colleagues. The other story holds that the clock was gifted by members of the former kirk session of St George’s Church – now West Register House – and that it might have been kept in the church since the 1850s.  An examination of the kirk session minutes has shed no light on the truth of this story, however.

The surprising thing about this clock is its painted glass front, which depicts St George’s Church as seen from George Street. It may seem strange that an American-made clock would have an Edinburgh street scene on it, but these clocks were mass produced with a clear lower glass panel. Following sale, individuals could commission their own design to be painted onto the clear glass making them unique. Continue reading “Connecticut Connection”

Weeding Scotland’s Courts

Every summer, a team of NRS archivists visits Sheriff Courts all over Scotland to collect historical records for preservation and storage.

Case records must be retained for decades after the cases finish for future appeals, cold case reviews and police enquiries, so it’s vital they are kept safe and secure. Centuries from now, these cases will provide an insight for research and understanding of Scottish law, culture and society.

Between May and August each year, our Court & Legal Team visits up to six of Scotland’s 39 Sheriff Courts to collect records that are 25 years old or over. This isn’t a glamorous process as the records must be removed box-by-box, and they’re stored in attics, basements, turrets and other hard-to-access places. Continue reading “Weeding Scotland’s Courts”

Improving Mortality Statistics

In January 2017, NRS adopted new software for recording mortality statistics. This software – IRIS – will help us to improve data relating to deaths from certain diseases and disorders.  It will also help to create statistics that allow for more accurate comparison with other countries, particularly with England and Wales.

When a death is registered, it’s common for a number of diseases or conditions to be recorded on the death certificate. The IRIS software translates causes of death into a code that is recognised under the World Health Organisation’s International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, Tenth Revision (ICD-10). Continue reading “Improving Mortality Statistics”

The Marquis of Montrose’s death and re-assembly

Marquess of MontroseOn 21 May 1650 the royalist hero James Graham, Marquess of Montrose, was publicly executed by hanging on a scaffold at the Mercat Cross in Edinburgh, and his body dismembered. A remarkable account of expenses held by National Records of Scotland throws light on how, a decade later, Montrose’s remains were reassembled with pomp and ceremony, ready for his elaborate funeral. The revealing account is one a small group of papers in the miscellaneous series (National Records of Scotland, RH9/1/38).

The former Scottish covenanting commander was captured in 1650 by his enemies and condemned to death for his treachery to the covenanting cause and his military action against them during the 1640s. Rather than facing honourable execution by beheading, the Marquess was hanged like a common criminal. He went to his death defiantly, maintaining his adherence to the Covenant. He also went stylishly, dressed in a black suit, a scarlet coat with silver trimmings, and a beaver hat. In an exceptional move designed to inspire fear and awe in the populace, his head was placed on a spike on the Edinburgh Tolbooth next to the High Kirk (St Giles), his limbs distributed to other Scottish burghs, and his torso buried near the Burghmuir loch, at the east end of the modern Meadows.  Continue reading “The Marquis of Montrose’s death and re-assembly”

Preview: Medieval Charters Exhibition

NRS archivist Dr Tristram Clarke, Head of Outreach, talks about Scribes & Royal Authority: Scotland’s Charters, 1100-1250, a free exhibition at General Register House, Edinburgh.

The exhibition, which runs from 5 April to 17 May, is a rare opportunity to see examples from two of Scotland’s most important collections of medieval charters.

You can find out more here.

Medieval Charters Exhibition

Scribes and Royal Authority: Scotland’s Charters 1100-1250

5 April – 17 May 2017

Free Exhibition, Matheson Dome, General Register House

For the first time precious examples from two of Scotland’s most important collections of medieval charters are going on show in National Records of Scotland.

1. GD_45_13_223
Charter of Thor, son of Swain for Holyrood Abbey, National Records of Scotland (GD45/13/223)

The charters from Holyrood Abbey and Melrose Abbey reveal how government developed in the period between 1100 and 1250, as part of the emergence in Western Europe of government as we recognise it today. These charters are but a tiny sample of what survives from the period and they offer a glimpse into the work of Scotland’s medieval scribes. This exhibition investigates how changes in the handwriting of the royal and monastic scribes reflect these crucial changes in charters that granted lands and rights.

Continue reading “Medieval Charters Exhibition”