The establishment of Civil Registration in Scotland

Cameron, A. (2007) The establishment of Civil Registration in Scotland. Historical Journal, 50(2), pp. 377-395. (doi: 10.1017/S0018246X07006115)

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An act for registering births, deaths, and marriages was passed for England and Wales in 1836. Scotland, despite evident support for the principle of civil registration there, did not obtain equivalent legislation until 1854 – a paradox that has yet to be fully explained. Eight unsuccessful bills preceded the Scottish act, and this article explores the reasons for their failure. Although the Scottish churches and municipal authorities broadly favoured vital registration, their objections to particular clauses concerning the nomination and payment of registrars, the imposition of fees for registration and penalties for non-registration, and the provision of new administrative facilities repeatedly impeded the bills' progress through parliament. More importantly, four of the bills were linked to measures for reforming the marriage law, which were so offensive to Scottish sensibilities that the registration bills were damned by association. Only by altering these contentious clauses and eschewing any interference with the law of marriage did Lord Elcho's bill of 1854 succeed. The lengthy gestational period preceding the Scottish legislation did, however, result in the compulsory registration of births and deaths, unlike in England, and secured a greater breadth of detail in the Scottish registers.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Cameron, Dr Anne
Authors: Cameron, A.
Subjects:K Law > KD England and Wales > KDC Scotland
K Law > K Law (General)
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Economic and Social History
Journal Name:Historical Journal

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