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FreeCEN Scotland

Putting 19th century Scottish census transcriptions online
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Parms File Example

What is a parms file?

“Parms” stands for “parameters”. Parameter is a word borrowed from mathematics meaning something that defines or describes something bigger — a “system”. In this case the system is a census County for a particular year. We are defining it in terms of its parishes with their parish numbers, the divisions of those parishes, the file names we are going to use for the transcriptions and the label that identifies the scan images on CD or film.

A parms file is needed to organise the County transcription on the database. It tells the database system how the transcription of the County is being split into parishes and parts of parishes, so that it can recognise where to place your transcriptions as they uploaded to the database.

The details

Please read the Coordinators Guide (download link on Coordinator resources page) to further understand how to create a parms file.

Click on the links (row numbers 1, 2, and 3) for explanations of the information in the cells of the first three rows. You are welcome to print this and use the example as you create your parms file.

If you need further assistance, please contact one of the Scotland Coordinators, Rena Mitchell and David Robertson.

  A B C D E F G H
1 MMJ 212 ABD1841          
2 168 168 Aberdeen   101786   a a
3 1168 168   North HS411168   a b
4 2168 168   South HS412168   a b
5 3168 168   East HS413168   a b
6 4168 168   West HS414168   a b
7 5168 168   St. Clements HS415168   a b
8 168 168 Aberdeen   101787   a a
9 6168 168   Greyfriars HS416168   a b
10 168 168 Old Machar   101788   b a
11 7168 168   Old Machar-Burgh HS417168   b b
12 8168 168   Woodside HS418168   b b
13 9168 168   Gilcomston HS419168   b b
14 168 168 Old Machar   101789   b a
15 1168 168   Bon Accord HS421168   b b
16 2168 168   Holburn HS422168   b b
17 3168 168   Landward HS423168   b b
18 169 169 Aberdour   101789     a
19 169 169   Aberdour HS410169     b
20 170 170 Aboyne & Glentanner   101790     a
21 170 170   Aboyne & Glentanner HS410170     b
22 171 171 Alford   101790     a
23 171 171   Alford HS410171     b
24 172 172 Auchindoir & Kearn   101790     a
25 172 172   Auchindoir & Kearn HS410172     b
26 173 173 Auchterless   101790     a
27 173 173   Auchterless HS410173     b
28 174 174 Belhelvie   101790     a
29 174 174   Belhelvie HS410174     b
30 175 175 Birse   101790     a
31 175 175   Birse HS410175     b
32 176 176 Bourtie   101790     a
33 176 176   Bourtie HS410176     b
34 177 177 Cabrach   101790     a
35 1177 177   Cabrach HS411177     b
36 2177 177   Cabrach BAN HS412177     b
37 178 178 Cairney   101790     a
38 1178 178   Cairney HS411178     b
39 2178 178   Cairney BAN HS412178     b


  • Line 1:
    • Cell A1: Your initials up to four characters
    • Cell B1: The total number of lines in the file, including Line 1
    • Cell C1: The Chapman code of your county and the year the parms is being created for
  • Line 2 ('a' records):
    • Cell A2: The Parish Number
    • Cell B2: The Parish Number
    • Cell C2: The Parish Name
    • Cell D2: Blank
    • Cell E2: The Film or CD number
    • Cell F2: Blank
    • Cell G2: If the parish number has an a/b designation, enter it here.  Otherwise leave blank.
    • Cell H2: Enter 'a'.  The 'a' records will be the name that shows up in the Census Place of the database.
  • Line 3 ('b' records):
    • Cell A3: The last three or four digits of the file number.  If the parish will have more than one file then this cell will have four digits.  If there is only one file for the parish, then only the last three digits are needed.  (See Aberdour)
    • Cell B3:  The Parish Number
    • Cell C3: Blank
    • Cell D3: The name of the sub-division. Most times this will be the same as Cell C2, unless there is more than one file and a more specific name is chosen.This is the name that will be entered in the spreadsheet as the Civil Parish.
    • Cell E3: The File Number.  This will be the name the file is saved as and will also be entered in Cell A1 of the transcription spreadsheet.
    • Cell F3: Blank
    • Cell G3: Same as Line 2
    • Cell H3: Enter 'b'. The 'b' records are the names of the Civil parish that will show up in the search results of the database.

Special Situations

  1. Parishes that are split between two counties.
    • Enter sub-divisions with the part in your county as just the parish name.  Enter the part in the other county as the parish name and Chapman code of that county.  (See Cabrach)
  2. Parishes with more than one file.
    • Column A, 'b' records, will contain the last four digits of the file number.
    • The File Number will start with HS411 and rise consecutively, skipping HS420.  HS411, HS412, HS413,...HS421, HS422, HS423, etc.
    • Note: When converting files for checking and zipping for post validation, be careful to keep the files with the same last four digits separate as you will overwrite the files.
    • The name in Column D ('b' records) does not have to be different for each file.  If there is something more specific, such as Quoad Sacra or county divisions, then feel free to enter it but all the Aberdeen (168a) files could have been named 'Aberdeen' and all of Old Machar (168b) files could have been named 'Old Machar' without any conflict.
  3. Parishes with only one file.
    • The file number will start with HS410.
    • Column A, 'b' records will contain the last three digits of the file number.
    • The name in Column D for 'b' records will most likely be the same as Column C for 'a' records.
  4. Parishes with a Parish Number that has an a/b designation.
    • For whatever reason, some parishes were split and, instead of being given a new number, the old number was given an a/b designation.  This is different than the 'a' & 'b' records for the parms file.  St. Nicholas was split into two parishes:  Aberdeen with the number 168a and Old Machar with the number 168b.  Remember that the name with 'a' records will be the name that shows in the 'Census Place' search option.  Please be sure to fill out column G in these cases and to ensure the parishes are named correctly.