Scotland's 1921 census has finally launched on the National Record of Scotland's ScotlandsPeople website. Originally planned for release in the summer of 2021, the Scottish census has been keenly anticipated by family historians coming almost 11 months after its English and Welsh counterpart.


Timed to coincide with St Andrews Day, a national holiday in Scotland, the launch has seen those with Scottish heritage all over the world jump onto the website to discover their family. For many Scots who left the country to start new lives elsewhere during the 1920s, this may be the last record of them in their homeland.

Records cost 6 credits to view (£1.50), with 30 credits for £7.50 being the smallest number you can purchase.

The census was conducted on 19 June 1921 so it may also catch some visitors who were holidaying in the country. It was the first census to ask questions about whether children had both parents still alive, a question prompted by the huge loss of life caused by the First World War.

The 1921 census was the first to name people's employers. Genealogist and blogger Chris Paton tweeted:

"So my granda Charles worked for R. & J. Dicks upon his return from Belgium 1918. I imagine the firm offered to look after him after his father, my great granda, died in Belgium in 1916 as the manager of two of their shoe shops, having been in hiding."

Others shared discoveries that showed that what was recorded in a census was not always true. Dave Annal at Lifelines Research wrote:

"First image successfully downloaded from 1921 Scottish census. Just a small lie here - my Gt Grandmother was a single woman, not a widow. The lie explains her daughter, my grandma, without confessing to the fact that she was actually her illegitimate daughter..."

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Amongst the notable Scots recorded, Scottish geologist and paleontologist Ethel Dobbie Currie (1899-1963) can be found with her parents James and Elizabeth Currie and her brother Raymond, a medical student in Glasgow. Her occupation is listed as 'Assistant curator and demonstrator at Glasgow University'. She was assistant at the time to Dr William Smellie at the Hunterian Museum in Glasgow, where she worked until she retired in 1963. She was one of the fist women to be made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and was also the first female president of the Glasgow Geological Society.

Ethel Dobbie Currie 1921 Scottish census

Actor Alastair Sim, famous for a number of roles including the St Trinian's films and Scrooge in the 1951 film, can be found with his parents in Edinburgh. According to his entry on Wikipedia he returned from fighting in WW1 in 1918 and announced to his parents that he wished to become an actor. The entry says that this was not well received and he left to spend a year in the Scottish Highlands. However, he was clearly with his parents and siblings in Edinburgh when the census was taken, working as a clerk (see below).

Alastair Sim 1921 census Scotland
Actor Alastair Sim with his parents and siblings in Edinburgh, 1921