The following news release was received from Grant Millar at Brightsolid:

· From inmates of poorhouses to owners of mansions – a fascinating portrait of Scottish life during the early 20th Century and a major new family history resource

A colourful picture of life in Scotland in the early 20th Century is revealed today, with the release of the Wills and Testaments from 1902 to 1925 by the National Records of Scotland on the ScotlandsPeople website.

The new records, 392,595 in total, document the last wishes of 267,548 individuals who lived and died in Scotland during this period. The collection also includes the wills of Scots who died outside Scotland, but still had assets in the country. As inventories of moveable estate (savings, cash, furniture, stock, etc) are also included, you can discover the fine details of people’s worldly possessions in this era.

People from all social classes are included in the records – from famous industrialists and philanthropists such as Andrew Carnegie and George Coats, to the impoverished inmates of the nation’s poorhouses. With more than 35 millionaires included in the records, you can learn how the members of this Scottish ‘Rich List’ ultimately chose to divide up their wealth. Conversely, simpler and cheaper procedures for recording wills meant that estates below £500 were also included.

The records also highlight the effects of major historical events on people’s lives, with the wills of World War One soldiers, suffragettes and people who perished on the Titanic and Lusitania included in the collection. In addition to helping general historians with their research, the new records will also be invaluable to genealogists, who can use these documents to learn more about family relationships as well as the close friendships that their ancestors enjoyed.

Audrey Robertson, Acting Registrar General and Keeper of the Records of Scotland, said:
“We’re proud to be marking the tenth anniversary of ScotlandsPeople by creating a major enhancement of our popular resource for Scottish family history. The 400,000 additional testament entries from 1902 to 1925 will open up exciting new avenues for people in search of their Scottish ancestry.”

Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop, said:
“ScotlandsPeople is a wonderful gateway to Scotland’s wealth of archives that tell the story of our nation and its people. These wills and testaments offer a compelling and moving insight into the lives of Scots a century ago and provide a powerful connection to our past. I welcome the addition of so many more wills to the digital resources that can be enjoyed by the people of Scotland, and people of Scottish descent everywhere.”

The Wills and Testaments are available on the ScotlandsPeople website (www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk) and at the ScotlandsPeople Centre in Edinburgh. These new online records will be interesting both to people in Scotland and to the Scottish diaspora across the UK, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and the rest of the world.