Tracing Old Scottish School Records

January 28, 2020

Finding Old School Records in Scotland

I was searching through old school records (1840s to 1860s) to find out which school my ancestors went to. I know that parents were not obliged to send their children to school until 1872, but it is certain that somewhere in Scotland there must be records about students.

My great-grandparents were Robert Stewart, born in Old Patrick, Dunbartonshire in 1842, and Margaret Cochran (e), born in Helensburg in 1834. Robert’s parents were William Stewart and Ann Livingston. William was a trade carpenter and taught trade to Robert.

This is what I know about research school records;

School records

To find out which school your ancestors attended, some research will be required. This requires reading some maps to find out which school is closest to where your ancestors lived.

The Education Act of 1872 required all children to attend school, making it difficult to find school records before this date. However, you may find a record book, admission record or photo somewhere. There are also teacher diaries that might be helpful, at least to provide interesting reading.

Glasgow is a progressive school board and therefore maintains a good record.

The Scotland Street Museum houses information on many different schools.

A register of senior appointments and staff is available and is worth a look.

Jordonhill Teachers College has a record, and if your ancestor was a teacher, it might be worth checking.

Finding the name of the school owner in the record is relatively easy compared to finding the child’s name. The owner of the parish school is nominated by the landlord and the parish priest. A final decision is then made by the elders to ensure that the nominee is qualified for the job. Heritors records may contain appointment records. This information can be found in the human resources library,

It is difficult to find records of students at school, but some records may be noted in the school diary and they must be 13 years old or older. Such information will be kept by the Scottish Records Office. After the school was closed, many records disappeared or were destroyed. Some surviving registers are still kept by the school itself, while others are still kept by the authorities’ files. You can view the Scottish Archive Network directory of ancestral schools.