Eday & Pharay, Orkney, Scotland Genealogy

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Eday & Pharay

Parish #15

This is a guide to the history and major genealogical records of Scotland as they pertain to the parish of Eday & Pharay. To learn more about how to use these records to search for your ancestors, go to the Scotland: Research Strategies.

History[edit | edit source]

STRONSAY and EDAY, two ancient parishes, in the county of Orkney, the one 14 miles (N. E. by E.) and the other 15 miles (N. N. E.) from Kirkwall. These parishes, which have been united from a very remote period, are named after two of the Orkney Islands, one of which is supposed to have derived its appellation from the rapidity of the tides that sweep along its coasts, and the other from the heathy aspect of its surface. There are two churches; the church at Stronsay, erected in 1821, is a neat structure containing 500 sittings, and that of Eday, erected in 1816, contains 300. Divine service was formerly performed at each, on fixed Sabbaths, by the minister of the parish, who resides at Stronsay. There are also places of worship for members of the United Secession at Stronsay and Eday, and at the former a place of worship for Wesleyan Methodists. PHARAY, an island, in the parish of Stronsay and Eday, North Isles of the county of Orkney; containing 67 inhabitants. This isle, which lies in the Westray Frith, about two miles west of Eday, is two miles in length and nearly one in breadth, and forms the northern point of the bay of Fersness. On Pharay was a chapel, now demolished.[1]

The New Statistical Account of Scotland (pub. 1834-45) offers uniquely rich and detailed parish reports for the whole of Scotland, covering a vast range of topics including history, agriculture, education, trades, religion and social customs. The reports, written by the parish ministers, are available online at http://edina.ac.uk/stat-acc-scot/. Click on ‘Browse scanned pages’ then search the parish reports for your parish of interest. Also available at the Family History Library.

Census Records[edit | edit source]

A census is a count and description of the population, taken by the government, arranged by locality and by household. Read more about census records.

Here is a list of the Family History Library microfilm numbers for the census records of Eday & Pharay as well as the library numbers for any surname indexes available:

FHL Film Number
Surname Indexes
6086634 (2 fiche)

The 1901 census of Scotland is indexed on www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk. To use it, you must register and pay a small access fee. All available censuses, 1841-1901, are indexed on this website. It may be easier for you to pay to use the website rather than access the separate indexes through the library.

Church Records
[edit | edit source]

The Established Church of Scotland was Presbyterian. Read more about church records.
Here are the pre-1855 records that exist for this parish.

Established Church—Old Parochial Registers[edit | edit source]

Record Type Years Covered FHL Film Number
Births: 1789-1854 0919499 item 1
Marriages: 1821-1854 0919499 item 1
Deaths: No entries none


Condition of Original Registers—[edit | edit source]

Indexed: For an index to these records, see Scotland’s People website, a pay-for-view website. The Scottish Church Records Index is also still available at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.  Some records may also be indexed in other FamilySearch collections for Scotland.
Births: Register was regularly kept and in good condition.
Source: Key to the Parochial Registers of Scotland, by V. Ben Bloxham, pub. 1970. British Book 941 K23b.

Established Church—Kirk Session Records[edit | edit source]

The Kirk session was the court of the parish. The session was made up of the minister and the land owners and business men of the parish, chosen to serve on the session. The Kirk session dealt with moral issues, minor criminal cases, matters of the poor and education, matters of discipline, and the general concerns of the parish. Kirk session records may also mention births, marriages, and deaths.

Here is a list of the surviving Kirk session records for this parish:

Minutes 1821–1921, none for Pharay
Note: Available on Film at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/1087.

Nonconformist Church Records[edit | edit source]

A nonconformist church is any church that is not the Established church. Read more about nonconformity in Scotland in the article on the Scotland Church Records Union List.

Eday United Secession Church[edit | edit source]

Eday is an island in Orkney, between Westray and Stronsay. In 1831 it contained a population of 961. It is ecclesiastically connected with the neighboring Island of Stronsay, from which it is separated by a sound 3 miles broad at the ferry. From time immemorial this island had been in a state of great religious destitution. The only supply of religious instruction they received was a sermon every third or fourth Sabbath from the minister of the island of Stronsay. No minister resided among them. From all the benefits of pastoral superintendence, visitation, and private instruction, they were entirely shut out. The home mission committee of the United Associate Synod taking the destitute condition of this place into consideration, sent missionaries to it in 1828, by whom the gospel was preached and Sabbath schools were formed. In 1831 the people, with the aid of Christian friends, built a place of worship. A congregation consisting of 120 members was formed. While matters were in this harmonious state, a missionary minister was sent by the Church of Scotland and located on the island with a grant of £50 a year from the Royal Bounty. Through contributions made in Edinburgh and elsewhere, a dwelling house was built for him and every effort made to keep him on the island. In this manner the once long neglected island inhabitants came to be supplied with a superabundance of the means of grace.
Source: Annals and Statistics of the United Presbyterian Church, by Rev. William MacKelvie, D.D., pub. 1873. Film #477618. More details may be given in the source.

Minutes 1839–1916
Note: Available On Film at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, Record CH3/1091.

Eday Baptist Church[edit | edit source]

William Tulloch, of the Westray Church, was the first preacher to bring Baptist teaching to Eday. For several years the converts in the islands were regarded as forming one church, about 1827 those in Eday and Sanday were formed into a church of nine members. Eday shared with other islands a monthly visit from Mr. Tulloch, but the brethren met regularly, kept a Sabbath School, and even went a field to Sanday. In 1840 a proper meeting house was built. A new one was built in 1881. The membership never numbered much more than 60. They combined with Sanday in 1910. The church was closed in 1954.
Sources: History of the Baptists in Scotland, by Rev. George Yuille, pub. c.1926, FHL
British Book 941 K2hi; and The Baptists in Scotland, ed. D.W. Bebbington, pub. 1988, FHL British Book 941 K2bs. Further details will be found in these sources including a complete list of ministers.

The extent of records is unknown. For more information write to:
The Baptist Union of Scotland
Baptist Church House
14 Aytoun Road
Glasgow, G41 5RT

Civil Registration Records
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Government or civil registration of births, marriages, and deaths (also called statutory records) began on January 1, 1855 in Scotland. Each parish has a registrar's office and large cities have several. The records are created by the registrars and copies are sent to the General Register Office in Edinburgh. Annual indexes are then created for the records for the whole country.
See the article on Scotland Civil Registration for more information and to access the records.

Probate Records
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Eday & Pharay was under the probate jurisdiction of the Commissary Court of Orkney & Shetland until 1823, and since then has been under the Sheriff's Court of Kirkwall. Probate records for 1513- 1901 are indexed online at www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk. You must register on the website but use of the index to probate records, called 'Wills & Testaments,' is free. You may then purchase a copy of the document or, if the document is before 1823, it will be on microfilm at the Family History Library. To find the microfilm numbers, search in the library catalog for the 'Place-names' of Orkney and the subject of 'Probate records.' Then click on the link to the records of the Commissariat of Orkney & Shetland.

The library also has some post-1823 probate records for Orkney. Look in the library catalog for the 'Place-names' of Orkney and the subjects of 'Probate Records' and 'Probate Records - Indexes.'

Read more about Scotland Probate Records.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Lewis, Samuel A., A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland (1846), pp. 499-514. Adapted. Date accessed: 8 August 2014.

Return to Orkney parish list.