Tracing Old Scottish School Records

In search of old school records from Scotland

I am searching for old school records (1840s-1860s) in order to find out which school my ancestors attended. I understand that it was not compulsory for parents to send their children to school until 1872 but surely there must be records somewhere in Scotland which references to the pupils.

My great grand parents are Robert Stewart who was born at Old Kilpatrick in Dumbartonshire in 1842 and Margaret Cochran(e) who was born at Helensburgh in 1834. Robert’s parents were William Stewart and Ann Livingston(e). William was a cooper by trade and taught the trade to Robert.

This is what I know about researching school records;

School Records

Finding out which school your ancestors attended will take a bit of research. This will need some map reading to find out which school was closest to where your ancestors lived.

The Education Act of 1872 required all children to attend school and it can be difficult to find school records prior to this date. However you may find log books, admission registers, or photographs which do exist somewhere. There are also teacher’s diaries which may be helpful, at least provide interesting reading.

Glasgow kept very good records as they were progressive school boards.

Scotland Street Museum has a good collection of information on a number of different schools.

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

The teacher training college at Jordonhill has records which may be worth checking out if your ancestor was a teacher.

Tracing the name of a school master in the records would be comparatively easier than finding the names of the children. Parish school masters were nominated by the landowners and the minister of the parish. It was then up to the presbytery to make the final decision to ensure that the nominated person was qualified for the job. The Heritors Records is likely to contain the record of the appointment. This information can be found in the HR repertory,

Finding records of school pupils is difficult, however some may be noted in school log books and they had to be at least 13 years old. Such information would be held by the Scottish Record Office. Many records disappeared or were destroyed after schools closed. Some surviving registers are still kept by the schools themselves while others are held by authority archives. You can check out the Scottish Archive Network catalogue for your ancestor’s school.

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