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Logo of the General Register Office

The General Register Office for Scotland (GROS) (Scottish Gaelic: Oifis Choitcheann a' Chlàraidh na h-Alba) was a non-ministerial directorate of the Scottish Government that administered the registration of births, deaths, marriages, divorces and adoptions in Scotland from 1854 to 2011. It was also responsible for the statutes relating to the formalities of marriage and conduct of civil marriage in Scotland. It administered the census of Scotland's population every ten years.[1] It also kept the Scottish National Health Service Central Register.[2]

On 1 April 2011 it was merged with the National Archives of Scotland to form National Records of Scotland.[3] All the former department's functions continue as part of the new body.

History

New Register House, Edinburgh

Initially ministers of the Church of Scotland were responsible for keeping parish records of baptisms and marriages, but only for their own church members. Later the Privy Council of Scotland, following the suggestion of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland enacted that all parish ministers should keep a record of baptisms, burials and marriages. This situation continued until 1854, when The General Register Office for Scotland (GROS) (Scottish Gaelic: Oifis Choitcheann a' Chlàraidh na h-Alba) was a non-ministerial directorate of the Scottish Government that administered the registration of births, deaths, marriages, divorces and adoptions in Scotland from 1854 to 2011. It was also responsible for the statutes relating to the formalities of marriage and conduct of civil marriage in Scotland. It administered the census of Scotland's population every ten years.[1] It also kept the Scottish National Health Service Central Register.[2]

On 1 April 2011 it was merged with the National Archives of Scotland to form National Records of Scotland.[3] All the former department's functio

On 1 April 2011 it was merged with the National Archives of Scotland to form National Records of Scotland.[3] All the former department's functions continue as part of the new body.

Initially ministers of the Church of Scotland were responsible for keeping parish records of baptisms and marriages, but only for their own church members. Later the Privy Council of Scotland, following the suggestion of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland enacted that all parish ministers should keep a record of baptisms, burials and marriages. This situation continued until 1854, when Parliament passed an Act transferring responsibility to the State.

The Registration of Births, Deaths and Marriages (Scotland) Act 1854 created the General Register Office of Births, Deaths and Marriages, headed by the Registrar General with the appointment of registrars in every parish. It also provided that the Registrar General should produce an annual report to be forwarded to the Home Secretary to be laid before Parliament, containing a general abstract of the numbers of births, deaths and marriages registered during the previous year. The first general abstract (relating to 1855) was submitted in 1856.

The parochial and borough divisions in Scotland were adopted as the basis of registration, and the session clerks of the Church of Scotland were, in most cases, appointed as the first registrars under the Act. Where the parish or borough was too large for a single registrar, the sheriff was empowered to divide it into districts. Registers were to be produced in duplicate, and one was to be sent to the Office of the Scottish Registrar General in Edinburgh. Compulsory civil registration began in Scotland on 1 January 1855, and coverage seems to have been complete for marriages and deaths. Birth registration took rather longer to bed down, but by the time of his first annual detailed report, published in 1861, the first Registrar General for Scotland, William Pitt Dundas, claimed that: "there is good reason for believing that very few births indeed now escape registration."[4]

In 1855 and 1860, two Acts, the Registration (Scotland) Act, 1855 (18 & 19 Vict., c.29) and the Registration (Scotland, Amendment) Act, 1860 (23 & 24 Vict., c.85), were passed which amended some of the sections of the 1854 Act. The original Act had placed considerable burdens on the sheriffs of the Scottish counties, who had already played a role in the taking of decennial censuses. The amending Acts reduced their responsibilities by appointing registration district examiners to inspect the registers. They also made revised provision for the transmission of the parochial registers up to the year 1820 to the General Register Off

The Registration of Births, Deaths and Marriages (Scotland) Act 1854 created the General Register Office of Births, Deaths and Marriages, headed by the Registrar General with the appointment of registrars in every parish. It also provided that the Registrar General should produce an annual report to be forwarded to the Home Secretary to be laid before Parliament, containing a general abstract of the numbers of births, deaths and marriages registered during the previous year. The first general abstract (relating to 1855) was submitted in 1856.

The parochial and borough divisions in Scotland were adopted as the basis of registration, and the session clerks of the Church of Scotland were, in most cases, appointed as the first registrars under the Act. Where the parish or borough was too large for a single registrar, the sheriff was empowered to divide it into districts. Registers were to be produced in duplicate, and one was to be sent to the Office of the Scottish Registrar General in Edinburgh. Compulsory civil registration began in Scotland on 1 January 1855, and coverage seems to have been complete for marriages and deaths. Birth registration took rather longer to bed down, but by the time of his first annual detailed report, published in 1861, the first Registrar General for Scotland, William Pitt Dundas, claimed that: "there is good reason for believing that very few births indeed now escape registration."[4]

In 1855 and 1860, two Acts, the Registration (Scotland) Act, 1855 (18 & 19 Vict., c.29) and the Registration (Scotland, Amendment) Act, 1860 (23 & 24 Vict., c.85), were passed which amended some of the sections of the 1854 Act. The original Act had placed considerable burdens on the sheriffs of the Scottish counties, who had already played a role in the taking of decennial censuses. The amending Acts reduced their responsibilities by appointing registration district examiners to inspect the registers. They also made revised provision for the transmission of the parochial registers up to the year 1820 to the General Register Office Scotland (GROS), and the registers for the years 1820–1855 to the custody of the local registrars. These registers were to be retained by the registrars for 30 years, after which they were to be sent to the GROS.[4]

On 1 April 2011 GROS was merged with the National Archives of Scotland, with which it already had close ties and shared management of the Scotland's People Centre in Princes Street, Edinburgh, to form National Records of Scotland.

From 1855 the role of accumulating and publishing statistics from data has fallen to one person.[5] These people were: