Friday, 3 May 2013

Highland Archive Centre - review

Ken Nisbet of the Scottish Genealogy Society ( has just returned from a visit up north to see the new Highland Archive Centre ( - he's kindly sent through a review of his experience for this blog:

I spent all day in the new Highland Archive Centre in Inverness which is about 20 minutes walk from the city centre. The Archive section is upstairs and opens at 10am and is through the Family History Service part of the building. I found the staff very helpful and keen to assist. The use of laptops is permitted but as normal only pencils permitted if you are going to write. Use of digital cameras is not permitted. The catalogue is in folders for each authority /subject in paper format and not online within the centre. Photocopying is 30p a page where the page can be copied but some volumes such as the poor law rolls are too large to be copied.

I was looking at the poor-law records for the Parish of Urray there are two main sets of records and you must look at both.

Parochial Board/ Parish Council General Register of Poor:
This gives information on the individual receiving poor relief when the relief started and when it finished for example by death of the individual and if the circumstances changed during the receipt of the relief. For example my Great-Grandmother’s sister who received temporary poor relief while in Inverness Asylum before she recovered.

Parochial Board Record of Applications:
This lists all those who applied for poor relief it includes those who received poor relief but also includes those like my 3*Great-Grandmother who applied for poor relief but were refused because she was living with her working son. It listed all the members of her family and their circumstances on the date she applied for relief. A very useful source as you cannot assume that relatives may not have applied to receive poor relief at some point but were refused because of their circumstances.

The Archives hold the poor-law records for Inverness and Rosshire. The Nairnshire registers and applications have not survived.

The Archives also hold the records for Highland Health Board which include the records for Inverness District Asylum once you have established from the Register of Lunatics when someone entered the asylum you can then the access the warrants which are legal documents establishing why the sheriff should permit the individual to be transferred to the asylum and also the case notes which cover the treatment and condition of the individual whilst they were in the asylum

All in all I would highly recommend making use of the archives and I hope to make a return visit soon.

(With thanks to Ken)

NB: Genealogist Chris Halliday has just been appointed as a family history officer for Highland Archives, and starts in post shortly - a huge congratulations to Chris, and do corner him, he knows his stuff!

For those not able to get to Inverness, a few sites that might be of assistance:

Am Baile ( - a website that possibly proves the existence of God! Amongst many treasures, it hosts newspaper indexes and ebooks

British Newspaper Archive ( - now adding the Inverness Courier from 1817-1930 - coverage currently sporadic, but improving

Highland Memorial Inscriptions ( - has several cemeteries headstones indexed from Invernesshire and the Highlands, including Tomnahurich Cemetery in Inverness


My new book, Tracing Your Irish Family History on the Internet, is now available from Pen and Sword. My next Pharos Scottish course, Scotland 1750-1850: Beyond the Old Parish Registers, starts May 15th - see Time to smash a few brick walls...!

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