FreeCEN Scotland

Putting 19th century Scottish census transcriptions online
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Researcher Help

Searching the FreeCEN database

Although the FreeCEN database is straightforward to search, there are some things that you need to know about the quirks of the Scotland Census returns in order to find your ancestors more easily. A previous Scotland Coordinator, Michelle Jeffery, has written some Hints and tips for searching the FreeCEN database that may help.

Viewing the original census records

Images of the original handwritten census records (from 1841 to 1911, inclusive) can be viewed online at Scotland’s People.This is a pay-to-view site of Scotland records. It also has images of the Old Parochial Records, the historic Statutory Registers of Births, Marriages and Deaths, and Scottish Wills and Testaments (to 1901).

Other free online sources of Scottish records

The Census Finder — Census Records Online website provides a directory of other free sources of census transcriptions available online for Scotland, as well as the rest of the UK, North America and elsewhere. The Scottish sources are listed by County.

The Scotland’s Family website provides an extensive directory of free on-line sources of Scottish records (including the Census) and other information. There are such items as Maps and Disease and Medical Terms. Wonderful comprehensive site.


There are two sites which provide free access to transcriptions of early Census records across much of the South of Scotland. The Graham Maxwell Ancestry website provides full coverage of the 1841/1851/1861 Censuses for Berwickshire, Peeblesshire, Roxburghshire and Selkirkshire, and also some coverage of Dumfriesshire and other adjacent counties. The Friends of the Archives of Dumfries & Galloway have transcribed the 1851 Census for Dumfriesshire, Kirkcudbrightshire and Wigtownshire.

Free online information for Scotland researchers


Much useful information about Scottish and other forenames will be found at What’s in a Name? A simple search facility will lead you to First or Given Names, where they are thought to have originated and what they originally meant. Also recorded are Synonyms, Variants, Diminutives and Pet Names that you may come across when searching in genealogical databases and old records. Much of the information on Scottish names is sourced from the books written by Donald Whyte.

Discussion forum

A useful discussion forum for those researching Scottish genealogy is available at the Talking Scot website. The site provides a concise explanation of the census in Scotland from 1841 to 1901.

Place names

A comprehensive database of places in Scotland and the rest of the British Isles is available in the GenUKI Gazetteer with an easy-to-use search facility.


An extensive alphabetical listing of occupations likely to be encountered in the old census records will be found at Old Occupations Names.

Ships’ register

Register of Ships provides the registration details of a vessel such as the rigging, the tonnage, dimensions, propulsion, owners and her Master. These have been transcribed from the Lloyd’s Register of British and Foreign Shipping from 1764 up to 2003.