"ABERDEENSHIRE, a maritime Co. in the NE. of Scotland; bounded N. and E. by the German Ocean; S. by the counties of Kincardine, Forfar, and Perth; and W. by the counties of Inverness and Banff. Greatest length, NE. and SW., 85 miles; greatest breadth, NW. and SE., 42 miles; coast-line, 60 miles. Area, 1955.4 sq. m., or 1,251,451 ac. Pop. 267,990, or 137 persons to each sq. m. The coast is mostly bold and rocky, and with little indentation. The chief promontories are Kinnaird's Head, Rattray Head, and Buchan Ness, the last being the most easterly point of Scotland. The surface, on the whole, is hilly and mountainous. It is lowest in the districts bordering on the coasts; hilly in the interior, with much moor, but also with many slopes and hollows in a good state of cultivation; and grandly mountainous in the SW., where numerous summits, including Ben Macdhui (4296 ft.), rise above 3000 ft. Much of the country is well-wooded. The chief rivers are the Dee, Don, Ythan, Ugie, and Deveron. Granite is the principal rock, and is extensively quarried for exportation."
[Bartholemew's Gazetteer of the British Isles, 1887]


Archives & Libraries

There is a wealth of archival and historical material available locally in the north-east of Scotland.

The archives page lists the main archive collections and contact points.



The bibliography page provides details of some useful books and links to other sites with book collections.



The Aberdeen & NE Scotland FHS has published many volumes of monumental inscriptions for the county. Full details of availability are indicated on the individual parish pages.



Census returns for Aberdeenshire are available for 1841, 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891 and 1901.
For general details on accessing these records, see the main Scotland Census page.
Records may also be accessed at local Registrar's offices in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire.



A chronological listing of events in Aberdeenshire history.


Church Records

General information on Scottish Church Records can be found in the Church Records section of the main Scotland page in GENUKI.
Copies of the parish registers on microfilm and the OPR index may be consulted in LDS Family History Centres around the world. The LDS library catalogue can be searched online to determine what parish registers are available.

For information on the availability of Church of Scotland records for a particular parish, please see that parish's page. Copies of parish registers for Aberdeenshire may also be consulted at the Aberdeen & NE Scotland FHS or at local history departments of the library services.

See here for details concerning other religious denominations in Aberdeenshire.


Civil Registration

Registration of Births, Marriages and Deaths began in Scotland on 1st January 1855.
For general details on accessing these records, see the main Scotland Civil Registrations page.
These records may also be accessed at local Registrar's offices in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire.


Court Records

Records of testaments, inventories etc. are held at the National Archives of Scotland .
The combined index to Scottish wills and testaments from 1513-1925 - comprising over 611,000 entries - is now available at the Scotlands People website. The index may be search for free and digital images of the related documents are available for purchase online.


Description & Travel

The individual parish pages each have a detailed description written in 1875, and here are details of how travel improvements affected development.



There are two Mailing Lists which may be useful if you are searching for ancestors in Aberdeenshire:

  • The Rootsweb ABERDEEN list. To subscribe to ABERDEEN-L or to its digest form ABERDEEN-D, send an email message to either ABERDEEN-L-request[at]rootsweb[dot]com or ABERDEEN-D-request[at]rootsweb[dot]com. Leave the subject field blank and put "subscribe" in the body of the message.
  • Aberdeen and North East Scotland Family History Society (ANESFHS) covers Aberdeenshire (along with Banffshire, Kincardineshire and Moray) and has its own Mailing List. There is a link to this Mailing List on the ANESFHS website.

Language & Languages

The language of the north-east of Scotland is a dialect called Doric. For further information start at the Elphinstone Institute of Aberdeen University. Also see the Doric bibliography.



There is a page listing sources for old and current maps.  To aid with the geographical location of the individual parishes, a map of the county is available.  The individual parish pages also give the sheet numbers for modern maps.


Military History

There is a page detailing military history for Aberdeenshire.


Names, Geographical

The individual parish pages each have a description which includes notes on the derivation of the important names. There is also an online Gazeteer which gives many of the place names in each parish. If you don't know which parish you want, then start at the index of 5000 place names.


Names, Personal

If your research involves any of the coastal fishing villages, then it is essential to understand the system of tee-names that is common. There is a description of tee-names and links to surname lists.



Here is a list of local newspapers and periodicals with contact details.




Social Life & Customs

The Elphinstone Institute is an initiative on the part of the University of Aberdeen to introduce the study of human traditions into its research portfolio, especially the traditions of the North and North-East Scotland.



The local family history society is the Aberdeen & NE Scotland FHS which has premises in Aberdeen.



For a social and economic record of the parishes of Aberdeenshire, together with masses of statistical material, see Sir John Sinclair's Statistical Account of Scotland which was compiled in the 1790s. The account was reprinted in the 1970s by EP Publishing Limited of Wakefield, England.

Follow-up works to this were the New Statistical Account (also known as the Second Statistical Account) which was prepared in the 1830s and 1840s; and more recently the Third Statistical Account which has been prepared since the Second World War.



In 1696, the government of Scotland imposed a poll tax throughout Scotland. The Poll Book for Aberdeenshire survives, and was transcribed and published in 1854. This document provides a unique source of names and families living at the end of the 17th century. The Aberdeen & NE Scotland FHS has published several parish booklets containing the relevant extracts from this work, along with a surname index.


Town Records

For details of town records see the Aberdeenshire Archives.