Crown Records

The Shetland Archives is the agent of the Keeper of the Records of Scotland for looking after some classes of crown records. They include Fishery Office records, from 1809-1971; Procurator Fiscal records, from 1850-1930; Customs and Excise records, from 1780-1909; and Sheriff Court records, from 1490 to the 20th century.

These collections contain important material for researchers about every aspect of Shetland’s past. The Customs Records, for instance, include registers of fishing boats from 1869 onwards. They contain a mass of information about the vessels, their skippers and crew, and what eventually happened to them.

The Sheriff Court maintained a register of deeds, from 1685 onwards, where every kind of local document was recorded for posterity. There we may find details of land transactions, letters about business and commerce and every other kind of document. The sheriff Court also has wills and testaments; and thousands of ‘processes’ where civil and criminal cases are recorded in detail.

The Fishery Office dealt with Shetland’s most important industry. Its records contain reports by officers about the success or failure of the fisheries throughout the islands.

Inside Crown Records


The Archives has a large collection of police reports, from the period 1858-1930, recovered from a sooty recess in the roof-space of the Sheriff Court in Lerwick. In most districts in Scotland these records have not survived.

Read more