The study of pre-industrial population is beset by problems, particularly in the case of Scotland. Earlier Scottish historians side-stepped these difficulties by ignoring them. More recent writers have begun to explore population trends and their influence on Scotland’s economy and society. The limited quantity and poor quality of the sources relating to Scotland’s population have severely restricted the range of questions which can be meaningfully posed. Many of the sophisticated analytical techniques developed for the study of English population in the pre-census period cannot be used for Scotland. It is worthwhile, therefore, considering some of the difficulties caused by the nature of the available sources.