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Content by
Linda Jonas 2006

Land Records

Services of Heirs (Also called Retours)

Services of Heirs are part of the Chancery records. When a landowner died, an inquest was held to determine the legal heir. Services of heirs list the name of the deceased, the name of the heir, and the relationship of the heir to the deceased. For more information see Chapter VIII "Service of Heirs" in Gerald Hamilton-Edwards, In Search of Scottish Ancestry.

Services of Heirs were in Latin until 1847, but were written in a standard format. See Chapter 13 "Succession to Heritable Property" in Gouldesbrough's Formulary of Old Scots Legal Documents for a Latin-English translation of the standard format.


Services of Heirs are indexed in the following:

Index and abstracts of Services of Heirs 1530-1699 (in Latin) are on film number 0908847.

Decennial indexes to Services of Heirs 1700-1859 are on film number 0990340.

Annual Indexes to Services of Heirs 1860-1929 are part of the National Inventory of Documentary Sources. Unfortunately, the titles on the fiche do not show the years covered on each fiche. The surname indexes are on fiche #6068606 (102 fiche).

Once you have found your ancestor in the index, the Service of Heirs 1586 to 1900 (in Latin until 1847) can be ordered on FHL films 0231260 - 0231566. The Abstracts of Services of Heirs 1855 - 1955 on FHL microfilm 1441082 - 1441099.


When land was transferred in Scotland, the transaction was recorded in the Registers of Sasines. There was the Secretary's Register from 1599 to 1609. From 1617 to 1868 there was a General Register of Sasines for property anywhere in Scotland, and Particular Registers of Sasines for the lands belonging to each district. See Chapter VII "The Sasine Register" in Gerald Hamilton-Edwards In Search of Scottish Ancestry for more details.

You will want to check the Particular Registers of Sasines first. The indexes are on various FHL film numbers: 0217006; 0217010; 0217023; 0896586 - 0896606; and 0990068. Although the actual sasines have not been microfilmed, you can see abstracts arranged chronologically in the Minute Books of Particular Registers of Sasines on films #0216980 to #0217085.

After you have checked the appropriate Particular Register, check also the General Register. The Index to General Register of Sasines 1617-1700 is on film numbers 0216970 - 0216976 and the Index to General Register of Sasines 1701-1720 is on film number 0874420.

There is no index from 1720 to 1781 to the General Register of Sasines, so the minute books must be used. They are in chronological order and contain abstracts of the sasines. Minute books to the General Register of Sasines for the years 1717-1782 are on film numbers 0216977 - 0216979.

If your ancestor lived in a royal burgh, you will want to also check the Burgh Registers of Sasines. There are Burgh Registers of Sasines at the Family History Library. To find out what's at the National Archives of Scotland, use the Repertory of Burgh Records on FHL fiche #6029991.

From 1781 there are printed Abridgements of Sasines in one series for the Particular Registers and the General Register. They include all of the significant information found on the original sasine records. The Index to Persons to Abridgements of Sasines 1781-1868, arranged by county, is on FHL film numbers 0217026 - 0217074; the Place Name Index to Abridgements of Sasines 1781-1830 is on FHL film numbers 0217075 - 0217087; and the Abridgements of Sasines 1781-1868 is on films #0217088 - #0217141.

Register of Deeds

In Scotland, the Register of Deeds contains a wide variety of documents. It can be called a "Register of Contracts." The register contains marriage contracts, apprenticeships, building contracts, testamentary settlements, and many other types of documents. See Chapter IX "Registers of Deeds" in Gerald Hamilton-Edwards, In Search of Scottish Ancestry for a description of these records. The printed index to grantors for the years 1661-1696 of the Court of Sessions is on 22 rolls of film #0896584 - #0896606. There are also manuscript indexes for 1770-1851 on films #0231807 - #0231817. The Repertory to the Register of Deeds is on film #0231790.

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