Scotland is unusual, in that it has a system allowing information recorded in statutory registers to be corrected after the event has been registered. This is the Register of Corrected Entries (RCE). One of the most common types of RCE entry is found when a single mother obtains a court order against the father of her child. In such cases, the court (usually a Sheriff Court) issued what was known as a Schedule (F) notification, instructing the registrar to insert in the RCE an entry recording the court’s decree and adding the name of the father to the official record. In theory, there is no time bar on adding to the RCE – the most extreme example we’ve encountered in our research was a birth record being amended more than 60 years later to record a change of name.
Statutory registration was introduced in Scotland under the Registration Act of 1854. The government took the accuracy of information contained in statutory registers very seriously. Section 60 of the Registration Act reads:
Every Person who shall knowingly and wilfully make or cause to be made, for the Purpose of being inserted in any Register of Birth, Death, or Marriage, any false or fictitious Entry, or any false Statement regarding the Name of any Person mentioned in the Register, or touching all or any of the Particulars by this Act required to be registered, shall be deemed guilty of an Offence, and on Conviction shall be punishable by Transportation for a Period not exceeding Seven Years, or by Imprisonment for a Period not exceeding Two Years.
Fast forward three and a half years, and on 24 April 1884, James Shaw registered the birth of a baby girl, Barbara Cochrane, born on 4 April 1884 at 13 Weaver Street, Newton on Ayr. The informant was the child’s mother, Barbara Cochrane, who informed James Shaw that the child’s father was her husband, Hugh Cochrane, a general labourer. The original register entry gives no indication that anything is amiss.
Six weeks earlier, on the 27 October, John James Love alias Ryan alias Ryans appeared in court on similar charges. John’s case related to a different child though, one Eliza Jane Ryans:
- An Act to provide for the better regulation of Births, Deaths, and Marriages in Scotland, 17 & 18 Vict. c.80
- Births. Scotland. Ayr, Ayrshire. 578. 4 April 1884. Barbara COCHRANE. NRS Data 575 0262.
- Sheriff Court Records. Ayr Sheriff Court. Record of Criminal Jury Trials. NRS Ref SC6/54/10.