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OPR Births & Baptisms

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Parish registers may record the date of birth or the date of baptism or both, but only one or the other will appear in the index. There is no indication given in the index as to whether the entry is a birth or a baptism, but it is more usual for the index entry to show the baptism date.


Do not expect too much from OPR birth & baptism records. The amount of information recorded can be variable and most entries contain very little detail.

At best: name of the child, whether legitimate or not, date of birth and/or date of baptism, father's name, mother's name and maiden surname, place or parish of residence, occupation of the father and names (and sometimes occupations) of witnesses. Occasionally, as in, for example, Dundee, witnesses' relationship to the child (if any) may be recorded.
At worst: the mother's name is not recorded at all between certain years (as in Alyth parish between 1742 and 1786), or that the entry does not record the sex of the child and the name is ambiguous.

Registers of Neglected Entries compiled for each parish by the Registrar-General after statutory registration began in 1855, contain a small number of birth entries proved to have occurred between 1801 and 1854, but not entered into the parish registers. These are indexed in a similar format to other OPR entries.

OPR Images
OPR images are stored in a JPEG format. There is an option on the "My Details " page to select the size of an OPR image. OPR images are displayed as standard using Lowest image quality, but you may vary the size by selecting from Lowest (lowest quality) up to Highest (highest quality). The lowest quality gives the smallest file size and therefore is quicker to view/download.

Header Page
OPR images are scans from microfilm copies of the original registers. When you view an OPR image, click on "View Free Header" to see, at no extra cost, the header page detailing the reference information for the microfilm from which that particular image was digitised .

Image Description
A description of each image incorporating search name, image type and reference number and the date and time that the image was generated, can be found at the top of each image. If you would prefer not to display these details, uncheck the "Image Description Appears In Image" box on the "My Details" page.

Use the information that you find on an OPR births & baptisms entry to further your search:

  • The parents' names (if both are recorded) will help pinpoint a marriage.
  • If the child has been illegitimate (usually indicated by the term "natural"), there may be further information to be found in the Kirk Session records, if the parents have been admonished for their behaviour.
  • Record any information on witnesses and their family connection (if any), since these can be invaluable in determining the correct line.
  • Use the location of the birth or baptism to track the family through the earlier census records.
  • Bear in mind that it was quite common for families, in an era of high infant mortality, to name a subsequent child after a dead sibling, so check that you have the correct child's entry.

Example of an OPR births & baptisms image

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