Searching Catholic Parish Registers
Catholic Parish Registers comprise the births/baptisms, marriages, deaths/burials, confirmations, communicants, status animarum (lists of Catholics), and other smaller record series recorded by priests of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland; the management of Mount Vernon Cemetery, Edinburgh; the management of Dalbeth Cemetery, Glasgow; and the Notary of the Bishopric of the Forces, from the beginning of the eighteenth century. The earliest record dates from 1703, but most begin in the early nineteenth century. The original registers are located mainly at the Scottish Catholic Archives, Edinburgh and at the Office of the Notary of the Bishopric of the Forces, Aldershot. The condition of the records vary enormously - some have suffered from fire, damp and rodents, whilst others are in excellent condition. Records of death and burial outwith the two cemeteries in Edinburgh and Glasgow are sparse.
It is worth noting that by 1829, it is estimated that there were only 70,000 Catholics in Scotland, served by 50 priests. These Catholics were traditionally associated with the south-west of Scotland, the Island of Barra with South Uist in the Western Isles and the north-east of Scotland. It is only with the arrival of large numbers of Irish migrants from around 1835 did the Catholic population increase considerably, mainly in the central belt areas.
As with the condition of the registers the standard of record keeping was variable and the amount of information recorded can affect the outcome of your research. You should not expect too much from Catholic Parish Registers, when compared to information found in the statutory records. For example, at best, you may find the following in a birth/baptism: name of child, date of birth and/or baptism, father's name, mother's name and maiden surname, place of residence, occupation of the father, names of sponsor's, and the name of the officiating priest. Occasionally other relatives can be mentioned.
Not every event was recorded in the registers - because of violence and persecution in the post-reformation period, very few records survive until the first two decades of the nineteenth century.
For more information see Catholic Parish Registers