This guide deals with the records held at The National Archives of Scotland (NAS)
relating to the military. The first part deals with army personnel records while
the second part covers more general sources for military history.|
recordsThe medieval Scottish army
There are no surviving lists
of the ordinary Scottish soldiers who fought in the wars of independence 1296
-1329 or in the subsequent Anglo-Scottish conflicts between the 1340s and 1603.
soldiers 1603 to 1707
The main NAS record of individuals in the Scottish
army before 1707 is the series of muster rolls (NAS ref. E100). These are arranged
by regiment and companies or troops. Most are dated after 1680, although the earliest
dates from 1641. They name all the officers and men in a troop or company at a
certain place and date. Ranks are also stated, other than for troopers. Without
knowing which regiment your ancestor served in, however, any search through the
muster rolls will prove to be an arduous and time-consuming task. Of some assistance
may be the fact that many regimental recruits came from the estate owned by the
colonel or his family. Therefore, if you know the estate or even area where your
ancestor lived, and can match this to a likely regiment, a search through the
muster rolls may prove to be less problematic. Some of these rolls are also printed
in C. Dalton's 'The Scots Army, 1661-1688' (republished in 1989 by Greenhill Books)
although only officers appear in his index. Private family papers in the NAS or
other archives may also provide details of individuals who had been granted a
commission to be a colonel of a regiment. The NAS military source list is one
of our published sources
and will help you to identify specific documents.
If your ancestor was an
officer then the chances of finding a record of him are better. Commissions in
the army were granted by the Crown and from 1670 some were recorded in the warrant
books of the Secretary for Scotland. A sift through the state papers series of
records (NAS ref. SP4) covering the relevant dates might bear fruit. The volumes
are indexed or at least contain a contents page. The commissions supply only the
name, rank, company and regiment of the officer and give no other personal details.
The SP4 commissions are indexed in Dalton's book (above) and also in his book
'English Army Lists and Commission Registers, 1661-1714'. Finally, there is also
a small series of commissions from 1643 and 1689 -1827 in a miscellaneous series
of records (NAS ref. RH9/9). Again, commissions can occasionally be found in private
family collections and so a trawl through the NAS military source list might be
Scottish soldiers in the British army after 1707
1707 the army was controlled from London and most British army records are held
at The National Archives, London (TNA). Their website has a comprehensive section
on military records.
Remember that many Scottish regiments have their own
museums and these will often have collections of information about past units
and the men who served in them. You may also want to contact the National War
Museum at Edinburgh Castle. The museum has a copy of the published Army Lists,
a microfiche index to the roll of service medals for the First World War, and
a small collection of regimental casualty lists.
The General Register Office
for Scotland holds the following armed forces records: the Army Returns (births,
deaths and marriages of Scots at military stations abroad from 1881-1959); Service
Departments Registers (births, deaths and marriages from 1959 outside the UK relating
to Scots serving in or employed by HM Forces); and marriages by Army chaplains
outside the UK since 1892. The War registers also record deaths of: Scottish soldiers
during the South African War (1899 -1902); Scots serving as Warrant Officers,
Non-Commissioned Officers or Men in the Army (but not officers) and also Petty
Officers or Men in the Royal Navy during World War I (1914 -1918), and Scots in
the Armed Forces during World War II (1939 -1945).
The Commonwealth War
Graves Commission website has a searchable database covering service personnel
who died in the First and Second World Wars.
The Veterans Agency website
contains information on how to access service records post-1920.
at War Trust is concerned with Scots and those who served in Scottish regiments
during the 20th and 21st centuries.
large group of post-Union military records held by the NAS are those for the militia
and, more recently, the territorial army. These run mostly from the late 18th
to the mid 19th centuries, but are concentrated around the Napoleonic War period
(1800 -1815). These records are discussed in more detail in 'Tracing
Your Scottish Ancestors: the Official Guide' (Edinburgh, 2003).
was by ballot, only some men were actually made to serve. A militiaman had to
be healthy and (until 1802) aged between 18 and 30. Thereafter conscripts could
range between 18 and 45. Certain categories were exempted (eg apprentices and
poor men with more than two children). Many people whose existence might not otherwise
have been recorded can be found in the lists of those put forward to be balloted.
Information includes names, profession and place of abode. Ages are also sometimes
stated and, more rarely, birthplaces.
The principal militia material in
the NAS is to be found in the catalogues for the sheriff courts or county councils.
The relevant records, if they survive, will be catalogued under the lieutenancy/militia
or miscellaneous sections, which generally appear at the end of each catalogue.
militia records may also be found in private collections in the NAS, usually in
the papers of the local landowners responsible for compiling lists of men able
to bear arms in a particular area. Our military source list will identify records
of this sort.
A militiaman's family could be eligible for assistance and
claims for this money can sometimes be found in the militia records noted above.
There is a record of government payments to the wives and children of militiamen
in and around the Edinburgh area for the period 1803 -1815. This is in the NAS
Exchequer records series (NAS ref. E327/147-158).
Records relating to volunteer
and territorial forces, 19th to 20th centuries, can be found among the Ministry
of Defence files (NAS ref. MD).
Local archives in Scotland may also have
militia records, perhaps as part of the records of former county councils. You
can find listings of local archives on the SCAN website and on the ARCHON section
of TNA's website.
You may also wish to read 'Militia Lists and Musters,
1757-1876' by Gibson and Medlycott (Federation of Family History Societies, 4th
edition, 2004) which cites the whereabouts of military sources both in Scotland
and in the rest of the United Kingdom. We have a copy of this in our search rooms,
and it will also be available in many local libraries and archives.
military recordsPre 1707
Many of the records of central government
prior to the union, such as the Registers of the Privy Council, have been published
and are an essential source of information on military matters. Army accounts,
1639 -1659 (NAS ref. PA15) have partly been published in C S Terry's 'Papers relating
to the Army of the Solemn League and Covenant, 1643 - 7' (Scottish History Society,
Exchequer records (NAS ref. E): including salaries, pensions and army
pay in the Treasury sederunt books, 1667-1708 (NAS ref. E6); treasury vouchers
concerning garrisons and regiments, arms and ammunition, late 17th century (NAS
ref. E28); 17th century muster rolls (NAS ref. E100), some printed in C Dalton's
'The Scots Army, 1661-1688' (Edinburgh, 1909, reprinted 1989).
(NAS ref. GD): Private collections are a rich source for military history and
can include anything from letters on the war in Flanders, 1695 (NAS ref. GD112/39/171/2-5)
to the thoughts of the Duke of Hamilton before the Battle of Worcester, 1651 (NAS
ref. GD45/26/126). They can be accessed through our Military Source List, Part
One, and through our electronic
catalogue. For collections still in private hands, consult the surveys of
the National Register of Archives for Scotland (NRAS) available in our Historical Search
Room, with some catalogues searchable electronically in our search rooms.
Official army records after the Union of Scotland and England are
held by The National Archives (TNA) in London. Among the records held in the NAS
are the following:
Records of the estates forfeited after the Jacobite rebellions
of`1715 and 1745 sometimes include papers relating to the settlement of soldiers
(NAS ref. E600 - E687 and E700 - E788)
Private papers (NAS ref. GD) may
contain anything from the diary of Lt. William Boyd, 46th division, RAMC, written
on the Western Front during the Great War (NAS ref. GD433/2/258/2) to a plan of
the order of battle at Culloden (NAS ref. GD61/118). Material relating to the
Jacobite campaigns of the 18th century can be found in our Jacobite Source List.
and Second World Wars
While TNA holds most official documentation, the
files of the various departments of the Scottish Office contain the following:
ref. HH31: war files, 1914 -1918 covering recruitment and conscientious objectors;
ref. HH50: war files, 1939 -1945 covering evacuation, emergency powers, civil
defence and the Clydebank blitz;
- NAS ref. AF: regulations regarding control
of the supply of food appear in the records of the Agriculture and Fisheries Department;
- NAS ref. NSC: files and photographs relating to the War Savings and Tank
campaigns of 1918 are preserved in the records of the National Savings Committee.
TNA holds most papers relating to army barracks.
The NAS has the following:
- NAS ref. E28: Treasury vouchers relating
to garrisons, 17th century;
- NAS ref. E37: Building works carried out at
Stirling, Edinburgh and the Bass, 1671-1679 (see also the NAS publication 'Accounts
of the Masters of Work')
- NAS ref. E886: King's and Lord Treasurer's Remembrancer's
Office War Department papers covering the 18th and 19th centuries;
ref. MW: Ministry of Works files contain information on Edinburgh and Stirling
Castles and arrangements for military occupation of a number of properties during
the 1939-1945 war.
National Archives of Scotland