Search billions of records on Ancestry.com

FreeCEN Scotland

Putting 19th century Scottish census transcriptions online
Scottish thistle FreeCEN logo

Scottish County Names

Scotland Map 1884

Scottish County Names in the 19th Century

Listed below are the names of the 33 counties of Scotland as they would have generally been known in the 19th Century, and referred to in the census records.

All but five of these continued in general use through much of the 20th Century. The five names which were lost to general use are those for the modern counties of East Lothian (formerly Haddingtonshire), Midlothian (Edinburghshire) and West Lothian (Linlithgowshire), and for Angus (Forfarshire) and Moray (Elginshire). All five counties were originally known by the names of their administrative centres.

It is important to be aware of these original names, as they will be used in the birthplace records shown on the census returns. For instance, a birthplace may be recorded as “Edinburgh, Edinburghsh.” or as “Dundee, Forfarsh.”

Each County name is listed together with its 3-letter Chapman Code.

Aberdeenshire
ABD
Argyllshire
ARL
Sometimes spelt Argyleshire
Ayrshire
AYR
Banffshire
BAN
Berwickshire
BEW
Buteshire
BUT
The County includes the island of Bute, but also the island of Arran
Caithness
CAI
Sometimes written as Caithness-shire
Clackmannanshire
CLK
Dumbartonshire
DNB
The County Council adopted the spelling Dunbartonshire by 1914, although this spelling had sometimes previously been used unofficially
Dumfriesshire
DFS
Edinburghshire
MLN
The County Council created in 1889 took the name Midlothian, a name that had sometimes previously been in use unofficially
Elginshire
MOR
The County Council officially became known as Morayshire in 1918, but the term Moray had been in use as an alternative to Elginshire in the 19th Century
Fifeshire
FIF
Often referred to simply as Fife
Forfarshire
ANS
The County Council officially reverted to the ancient name of Angus in 1928
Haddingtonshire
ELN
The County Council officially became known as East Lothian in 1921, a name that had sometimes previously been in use unofficially
Inverness-shire
INV
Kincardineshire
KCD
Sometimes known as The Mearns
Kinross-shire
KRS
Kirkcudbrightshire
KKD
Sometimes termed The Stewartry of Kirkcudbright
Lanarkshire
LKS
Linlithgowshire
WLN
The County Council officially became known as West Lothian in 1924
Nairnshire
NAI
Orkney
OKI
Peebleshire
PEE
Sometimes referred to as Tweeddale
Perthshire
PER
Renfrewshire
RFW
Ross & Cromarty
ROC
Officially created in 1889 by the merger of the separate Counties of Ross-shire and Cromartyshire, although the census had always treated it as a single county
Roxburghshire
ROX
Selkirkshire
SEL
Shetland
SHI
The County Council created in 1889 adopted the spelling Zetland
Stirlingshire
STI
Sutherland
SUT
Sometimes written as Sutherlandshire
Wigtownshire
WIG
Sometimes spelt Wigtonshire

See an 1884 map of Scotland that uses these 19th century county names.