The census lists 90 people living on the island on 15 June 1764 - 38 males and 52
females, including 19 families and nine individuals.
The document was discovered among the papers of Clan Maclachlan during cataloguing
by the National Register of Archives for Scotland (NRAS), the branch of the National
Records of Scotland which holds historical papers held in private hands in Scotland.
It is not known exactly why the census was taken, or by whom, but it is likely it
was made to contribute to a wider report on the Hebrides.
According to the document, each ate ‘36 wild fouls eggs and 18 fouls’ (seabirds)
Until now, the oldest known record of the population dated from 1822.
As the later document included ages, it is possible to track five residents of St
Kilda who appeared on both censuses, 52 years apart.
The 1764 census also includes the ancestors of the final five families to be evacuated
from the island in 1930, the MacQueens, Fergusons, Gillies, MacDonalds and MacKinnons.
Dr Alison Rosie, Registrar of the National Register of Archives for Scotland, said:
“This document sheds new light on the history of St Kilda and the families who lived
there, and gives us an insight into their lives more than 250 years ago.
“Through it we can trace individuals back 50 years earlier than the next surviving
census, and many of the people listed were the ancestors of the families who left
the island in 1930.”
Historic census of St Kilda discovery
30 December 2016
A 250-year-old census showing the earliest recorded list of the population of the
island of St Kilda has been discovered thanks to work by the National Records of