Thursday, 26 September 2013

Births, Marriages and Deaths covered in our new online search

We announced yesterday our new online index. Here is what you can search so far:


Bunkle and Preston Kirk Session (Church of Scotland but not in the OPRs): Baptisms 1684-1690; Marriages 1684-1690.

Chirnside Kirk Session (Church of Scotland but not in the OPRs): Burials 1817-1854.

Eyemouth United Secession Church: Births 1841-1854, 1856 (one entry), 1861 (one entry); Marriages 1843 (one entry), 1850 (two entries).

Lauder Kirk Session (Church of Scotland but not in the OPRs): Burials 1827-1838, also nine deaths 1785-1825.


Applegarth Kirk Session (Church of Scotland but not in the OPRs): Baptisms 1694-1719, also nine entries from 1765-1766; Marriages 1694-1712, one entry from 1763; Mortcloth payments 1704-1715.

Closeburn (Church of Scotland but not in the OPRs): Baptisms 1726-1754; Marriages 1726-1742, 1748-1753; Burials 1737-1741, 1748-1753.

Dumfries, Buccleuch Street United Presbyterian Church: Births 1846-1856.

Ecclefechan Free Church: Baptisms 1843-1848.

Tinwald (Church of Scotland but not in the OPRs): Banns and Marriages 1832-1854.

Westerkirk (Church of Scotland but not in the OPRs): Irregular Marriages 1768-1824 (35 entries for fines paid); Mortcloth payments 1706-1719, 1768-1805; Burials 1805-1854; Deaths 1842-1854.


Glenkens Free Church: Baptisms 1841-1857


West Linton Associate Church: Baptisms 1748-1753, 1815-1832; Marriages 1812-1826; Burials 1812-1817.


Castleton (Church of Scotland but not in the OPRs): Baptisms 1707-1710 (and a few births inferred from Kirk Session minutes); Marriages 1707-1710; Proclamation fees 1767-1770, 1834 (13 entries); Mortcloth payments 1767-1770 (25 entries).

Hawick East Bank Associate Church: Births 1805-1806; Marriages 1805-1806; Deaths 1805-1806 (register not yet fully transcribed).

Hawick Free Church: Births 1843-1846 (register not yet fully transcribed).

Jedburgh Associate Church: Baptisms 1737-1750 (register not yet fully transcribed).

Kelso Relief Church: Births and Baptisms 1813-1819.

Yetholm Burgher Church (New Light or New Licht): Births 1824-1855; Banns 1830-1852; Deaths 1819-1844 (4 entries).


Galashiels Kirk Session (Church of Scotland but not in the OPRs): Baptisms 1666-1671 (three entries), 1672-1690, 1693-1718, 1729 (one entry); Proclamations and Marriages 1672-1683, 1686-1689, 1719 (one entry), 1845-1854; Mortcloth payments 1673-1683.

Galashiels Relief Church: Births and Baptisms 1838-1859.

Selkirk Kirk Session (Church of Scotland but not in the OPRs): Mortcloth payments 1707-1711 (register not yet fully transcribed).

Selkirk United Presbyterian Church: Marriages 1850 (only four entries).


Newton Stewart Relief Church: Births 1791-1844; Marriages 1807 (one entry); Deaths 1812-1816 (three entries).

More collections go online - Scottish Marriages and Deaths

We have added two more collections to our online indexes: marriages/banns and deaths/burials.

As with our online birth/baptism search which we announced earlier this week you can now search all the entries in our pre-existing indexes in book form plus some new ones not available before. All of these are indexes of pre-1855 records that for some reason do not appear in the Church of Scotland Old Parish Records, or OPRs. This means when you search these records do not show up.

How does it work?


You can search by Forename, Surname, Year of Death, County of Death, Parish of Death, or a combination of the above. As with searching the census, less is often more. Perhaps the person didn’t die when you expect or not in the location you expect. Married or widowed females are often recorded only under their maiden surname and first names and surnames appear under an amazing variety of spellings.

Here’s how the search page looks:


When you search for a marriage you can search by either the Groom’s Name, the Bride’s Name or both. The results show:

 “Groom’s Name”, “Bride’s Name”, “Year” and “Register”.

Remember that the register and place of residence are not necessarily the same thing. With this in mind, we have also indexed by parish of marriage (or most likely parish of marriage), which at times may be different from the parish name on the register. If people attended a non-Church of Scotland Church they may have travelled across parish boundaries to be married by the minister of their choice. Also if the couple were from different parishes the banns would have been read out in both. Not all registers specify where the marriage took place, in these cases we have indexed the parish as the parish the register was kept in.

The full entries of the birth, marriage or death costs just £1.50 and you can pay through PayPal.

Remember you can also search our other indexes online, here’s a list of all our indexes:

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

List of parishes in our new baptism search

Here is a list of what is contained in our new birth/baptism search as of today:


Ecclefechan Free Church 1843-1848
Applegarth Kirk Session (Church of Scotland but not in the OPRs) 1694-1703, 1703-1719, 1763, 1765-1766
Closeburn Kirk Session (Church of Scotland but not in the OPRs) 1726-1754
Dumfries, Buccleuch Street United Presbyterian Church 1846-1856


Newton Stewart Relief Church 1791-1845

The Stewartry of Kirkcudbright

Glenkens Free Church 1841-1857


Jedburgh Associate Church 1737-50 (more to follow)
Hawick East Bank Associate Church 1805-1806 (more to follow)
Hawick Free Church 1843-1846 (more to follow)
Castleton Kirk Session (Church of Scotland but not in the OPRs) 1707-1710
Kelso Relief Church 1813-1819
Yetholm Burgher Church (New Light or New Licht) 1824-1855


Galashiels Kirk Session (Church of Scotland but not in the OPRs) 1666-1690, 1693-1718, 1729
Galashiels Relief Church (later the United Presbyterian Church) 1838-1855


Bunkle and Preston Kirk Session (Church of Scotland but not in the OPRs) 1684-1690
Eyemouth United Secession Church 1841-1861

Search on-line today

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

New free pre 1855 baptism search for the South of Scotland

For some time we have been indexing baptisms found in registers that do not form part of the OPRs.

There are various reasons why baptisms may be found in places other than the OPRs and therefore not searchable on

Sometimes baptisms were recorded in amongst the Kirk Session material. Also baptisms were sometimes performed by a non-Church of Scotland minister, such as a Free Church minister, and recorded in their register.

There is more information about the specific registers on our website.

As with all our indexes they are free to search, you only pay if you want a full transcription. Parish births/baptisms are just £1.50!

Search for free -

Dumfries archive's new home in the Ewart Library - user guide.

I was in Dumfries on Friday, using the new archive section of the Ewart Library. It's looking very nice!

As you can see from the photo above they were still setting up on Friday but it's all starting to come together. There is now a door dividing the archive and local studies area from the lending section of the library and within this section there is another room for consulting documents. This creates a very quiet area to concentrate but still close to the reference material on the open shelf. All in all it seems to be a very well designed space.

Ordering documents

It is obvious however that this is the best of a bad situation and not the ideal you (or they) would wish for. Before the move you consulted some material at the Ewart and some at the Archive Centre across town so having just one search room is easier. On-site storage is now very limited, however, as a lot of their holdings are now stored off-site. The recent move means that checking that the documents you wish to consult will be available on the day of your visit is vital, as the catalogue is not clear as to where the documents are stored. Our advice: always contact the archive first to make sure the documents will be available for consultation. They try to get them in very quickly but it is best to give them a few days notice if you possibly can.


Parking is free for two hours on the street outside and I found there were a number of spaces near the door. Dumfries operates a parking disc system: if you don't have one you can get one form the library staff (they are free). There are also a number of disabled spaces outside the library. Being within easy walking distance form the train station too adds to the ease of access of this archive.


As with most forward-thinking archives in the UK, photography is allowed for your own personal use. There are restrictions on some items though so always ask for permission first. 


If you need some research, but it's too far away for you to visit yourself get in touch with us and we can arrange to carry out the research for you: 

Monday, 16 September 2013

Dumfries prison register

We have begun indexing the prison registers for Dumfries. As each year is indexed we will make it available on our website. We have 1841 and 1842 online so far and hope to add 1843 today or tomorrow.

The Dumfries register has some interesting characteristics. For example the description is a lot more ‘human’ than that which we have seen in other prison registers. In many prisons the description/marks column is left blank unless the individual had a tattoo, obvious scar or something similar. In Dumfries however it seems to have almost always have been filled in (for the years we have inspected so far) and gives such descriptions as “common”, “squints”, “stout”, “pock pitted”, “nearly blind in right eye” and even “white spots on his head”! Certainly a way to really learn more about your ancestors… if you dare!

The online index is free and we charge just £5 for a full transcription: Come and search today!

Monday, 2 September 2013

Sheriff Court records

If you have been doing genealogy for more than five minutes you will have discovered that our Victorian ancestors were not quite as well behaved as we may have have been led to believe. The number of children born outside marriage, or within weeks of the marriage astounded me when I began researching.

This can present a real challenge to the family historian. In Scotland a marriage certificate after 1855 will sometimes give both parents’ names even in a case of illegitimacy. Sometimes, though, even with a name of the father, finding him can be more than a little challenging, as so little information is given about him. This can lead to the inevitable brick wall.

There are various ways to overcome this, one being the Kirk Session records of the Church of Scotland and other Presbyterian churches. These were well explained in the episode of ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ featuring Annie Lennox. These are certainly a very sensible first port of call.

As the nineteenth century progressed, the Kirk Session records tend to decline in usefulness as fewer people are recorded in them, especially in the larger towns. This also means a record of baptism naming both parents is unlikely.

There is however another, often overlooked, source available and that is the Sheriff Court records. The Sheriff Courts deal with criminal and civil cases, and in looking for paternity cases we generally begin with the records of civil cases. A good place to begin is the decree books, where these exist. These are usually neatly written volumes, covering at most a few years at a time. The decree records the outcome of the case and will be helpful in giving us a brief summary of the facts as established by the court. The disadvantage has been is that these records are often time-consuming to search. The National Records of Scotland (NRS) hold them, but as they are not stored in the same building as the search room they must be ordered in advance a day or two before your visit. All of this is could seem quite a hassle and you have no guarantee of finding anything.

That is why I am so pleased to tell you that we have uploaded a new set of records to our website: Paternity Cases in the Decree Books of Jedburgh Sheriff Court. Our index to these records has been produced with the kind assistance of Margaret Hamilton. The books have been searched for paternity cases where the mother of an illegitimate child is taking the father (or his relatives) to court to receive aliment for the child.

You can search our court records page by mother or father and see if there is a case relating to your ancestors:

You can search by mother’s name alone, or by father’s name alone to see if your ancestor is in the database. You can also search by year to narrow down the results. Once we expand the database I will prepare some ‘how to’ guides. Follow me on Twitter to keep up-to-date @maxwellancestry