WHAT ARE SCOTLAND'S STATISTICAL ACCOUNTS?
Scotland’s Statistical Accounts are a rich resource for examining Scotland’s history, geography and society at the most local level. Don't be put off by the word 'statistical' - it's used in the sense of the 'state of the nation', not modern statistics. Scotland's three Statistical Accounts assembled detailed reports of every parish (with supplementary reports for universities and other institutions) written by local ministers, school-masters and dignitaries, each of which give us insights into the life of every one of Scotland's localities across 300 years.
The First or Old Statistical Account was undertaken in 1791-99 under the direction of Sir John Sinclair of Ulbster; the Second or New Statistical Account followed in 1834-45; finally, the Third Statistical Account was undertaken and published between 1951 and 1992. Hundreds of topics are covered: the industrial revolution, demographic shifts, natural history, religious changes, education, even the rise of 'the pernicious habit of drinking tea'! The Accounts provide an in-depth overview of life at the time of their collection (including the attitudes of 'the great and the good' who compiled them...) which, taken together, give voice to the local impact of the enormous changes that have taken place in Scotland over the last three centuries.