The Commissariot Record of Dunkeld,
Register of Testaments, 1682-1800

The following hyper-link is to the Scottish Record Office list of the Testaments and Inventories registered by the Commissary Court of Dunkeld, 1682-1800.

Testaments which have been consulted are arranged chronologically by decade. Each entry lists the names of people who are mentioned in the Testament, and their connection to the deceased (e.g. spouse, nephew, beneficiary, debtor, executor, witness, etc).

The entries only relates to people associated with the parish of Blair Atholl and is not complete. However, during the process of transcribing these Testaments and Inventories, it has become clear that there are a large number of people and events which would otherwise not be known about. This index will expand as more documents are transcribed.

The Commissariot Record of Dunkeld, Register of Testaments, 1682-1800

The Commissariot Record of Dunkeld, Register of Testaments, 1682-1800

Decades: 1720s; 1730s; 1740s; 1750s; 1760s; 1770s; 1780s; 1790s

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Notes

As the register of marriage banns only dates back to 1744 in this parish, and there are no baptismal records before 1718, these documents are a valuable source of family information in the late 1600s and early 1700s. Many of the documents only mention the Executors, normally the next of kin, who paid for the Testament and Inventory to be formally recorded by the Commissariot of Dunkeld, thus preventing family disputes in the future. Many mention other relatives, such as the relict (widow of the deceased), and brother-germain or sister-germain (brother and sister by the same parents).

As most people were Gaelic speakers and could not write in English, the documents were penned by the local notary (e.g. Neil McGlashan, writer in Aldclune) and witnessed by men of social standing in the community (e.g. John Robertson of Urrard).

These documents also provide information about the way that people lived. There were two serious financial problems. Firstly, there was always a shortage of silver coinage, and secondly there were no banks.

To overcoming the first problem a person could give a 'bill' (basically an IOU) which would state the amount in Scots merks, Scots pounds or pounds Sterling, and the date when it would be payable (e.g. Martinmass). The bill could be paid off by instalments, as coins became available, and the note was amended on the back. When the bill was eventually paid off, it was given up (returned) and presumably destroyed. However, it was not unusual for such bills to be used as currency in their own right, and pass from hand to hand, so that the original writer of the bill might not know who had to be paid to redeem the bill.

The absence of banks meant that large sums of money had to be safeguarded in times of civil unrest. One way was to give the money to a trust-worthy person in exchange for a bond to be redeemed in a few years time. As originally, interest was not supposed to be paid on loans, land had been given as security (i.e. wadsett) and the interest was paid as 'annual rent', the symbol ampersand being used to signify 'annual'.

Some documents mention 'roups' (auctions) of goods and the prices paid for them. Taking into account that the relatives might have removed many useful items already, it still gives a fair impression of what a person owned.

The hyper-link to the Scottish Record Society list follows. Those with a 'T' are not available on-line at ScotlandsPeople, but some can be seen in Edinburgh, by prior appointment.

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