Researching family in Scotland between 1771 and 1911? The National Library of Scotland has posted free online Scottish Post Office directories spanning those years—700 digitized directories in all. Here’s an example of a page from an 1887 volume:
Similar to US city directories, these Scottish directories contain alphabetical lists of locations’ inhabitants and information on their profession and address. By the mid-1800s, these directories covered all of Scotland, with most being printed annually. The earliest ones were issued by private publishers, but later, the Post Office took over publication of directories in larger towns and cities. According to the website,
Most of the directories up until the mid-19th century would only include the principal inhabitants of a location, leaving the poor in particular unmentioned. Women rarely featured in the lists, as usually only the head of a household would be recorded.
In addition, people usually had to pay a small fee to be recorded in the directories. While the gentry, clergy, major tradesman, manufacturers, shop owners and other professionals are likely listed, their employees or small traders and craftsmen are often omitted. Laborers and servants are hardly recorded at all.
There are exceptions, however—for example the extensive lists of farmers for Perthshire or female householders for Forfar.
Search or browse by last name, place or year. For names, only the first three characters you enter will be used in your search (or first five for names starting with Mc and first six for names starting with Mac).
My search for mcint (the first five letters of McIntyre) yielded 3,008 results, including the page above from the 1887-1888 directory for Forfarshire, Angus County. Adding a place or year to my search would have narrowed these results.
You can download a page as a JPG (image) or XML (text) file, or download a whole book as a PDF. Click here to access the digitized Scottish Post Office directories.