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Aberdeenshire Burial Records for Family History

From Portsoy on the north coast to Laurencekirk on the Angus border, from Braemar in the Cairngorms National Park to Peterhead on the eastern coast, Deceased Online's collection for Aberdeen City and Shire covers a wide variety of burial records. In this post, I look in detail at some of the burial records available and explain how to use them in your family history research.

Aberdeenshire is Scotland's fourth largest council region. Its vast area encompasses 24 Munros (mountains over 3000 feet), 208km of coastline, more than 129 whisky distilleries, over 300 castles, 18 sites of Pictish stones, stunning golf courses, fishing ports and magnificent royal estates. All of this signifies the county's rich heritage. Over the centuries, the area has been home to crofters, landowners, servants, fishermen, merchant seamen, distillers, inns and the royal entourage. My crofter ancestors moved around the Mearns through the 18th and 19th centuries. Their offspring included farmers and fishermen who remained in the region, as well as merchant seamen and soldiers who departed forever. One of my sailor ancestors, James Jolly, died almost 4,000 miles away from home in Savannah, Georgia. Burial records are one way in which family historians can trace the relatives their ancestors left behind.

Inverurie is a market town in the centre of Aberdeenshire. It has two burial grounds in the Deceased Online database: the Bass and the New. This example from the Bass Cemetery records shows the details available:

You can see the name of the person who bought the grave, the inhabitants of the lair and the name of the person who was issue the transfer certificate. The owner of the grave, John Ewing, is described as a labourer, and the record show his address. These details can be used with civil registration records to confirm identity. The address could be used alongside electoral registers or directories to trace John backwards and forwards in time. Helpfully, this record also shows the records of all those buried, although the administrator has crossed out "Occupation" and replaced this with their ages. this record also clearly shows the number of the grave - 268 - and the section - B- where it lies in the cemetery. This can then be used to trace the grave when visiting.

Other places with two cemeteries in this collection are Barthol Chapel, Belhelvie, Benholm (Churchyard), Bervie, Clatt, Corgarff, MacDuff, Fintray, Foveran, Huntly, Peterhead, Portlethen, Skene, Strichen, Tullynessle, Tyrie, and Udny.

Further west in the county, is beautiful Braemar, which sits in the hearts of the Cairngorms National Park, not far from Royal Balmoral. The burial register for this cemetery follows a traditional parish register layout. The following example shows that this record includes the name of  the deceased, the place of residence, when buried, age in years and the name of the person performing the ceremony. Grave numbers have also been inserted. The last column should not be ignored as it can give further clues to the religion of the deceased. Here, we can see that the funeral of Alexander Lamont was conducted by a Roman Catholic clergyman. This suggests that in searching for further information on Alexander we should investigate Catholic records.

At the south east of the region is Laurencekirk, a small town in old Kincardineshire.  The Register of Burials for the town's burial ground appears less detailed on first glance, but in fact provides much useful information.

The first column gives the date of interment. This is followed by the name of the deceased and their designation, such as their occupation or "still born child". Other details are residence, age, and then the detail on where interred, including whether in a compartment or free ground, the letter and number of the section and grave, along with the depth and cost of the grave. This information should help visitors locate the grave easily.

These examples are just a small sample of what can be found in the latest collection. In looking at the details of one individual in the database, you can often find clues which will help you discover more about the wider family. We hope that you are able to use these records to further your family history research in general.

Have you found any of your ancestors in the Aberdeenshire collections? Did they have traditional jobs or something more unusual? We love to hear from you. Please get in touch via the comment box below, or via or Facebook and Twitter pages!


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