Statistical Account


Detail of a map of Roxburghshire or Tiviotdale by Matthew Stobie, 1770 (NLS shelfmark: EMS.s.34)

Surveying the nation

The 'Statistical Account  of Scotland' was intended as a complete survey of Scotland. It was organised by Sir John Sinclair, who hoped that, by surveying the nation, the account would reveal the 'quantum of happiness' of its people.

The 'Statistical Account of Scotland' was published between 1791and 1799 in 21 volumes. It includes information about the geography, history, economy, and agriculture of most parishes in Scotland. A second survey, the so-called 'New Statistical Account of Scotland', was compiled between 1832 and 1845.

A useful tool for historians

Today the surveys are a useful source of information about Scotland in the period of the Enlightenment and Industrial Revolution.

To historians, for example, they reveal information about agricultural improvements in the 18th century.

'Statistical Accounts' online

The full text of the both surveys is avaliable as part of the licensed digital collections on the National Library of Scotland website.  You have to register with NLS to use these resources.


  • Source 1

    Sir John Sinclair’s description of compiling the 'Statistical Account'
  • Source 2

    Sir John Sinclair’s discussion of the term ‘statistics’
  • Source 3

    Part of the report for the Parish of Monymusk
  • Source 4

    Part of the report for the Parish of Wick
  • Source 5

    Statistical table for the Parish of Culross
  • Source 6

    Report for the Parish of East Kilbride
  • Source 7

    Report for the Parish of Smailholm