North Ronaldshay, Orkney, Scotland Genealogy

From FamilySearch Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
North Ronaldshay

Parish #22

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

History[edit | edit source]

RONALDSHAY, NORTH, an island and a quoad sacra parish, in the parish of Cross and Burness, county of Orkney, 30 miles (N. E. by N.) from Kirkwall. This island, the most northern of the Orkneys, is bounded on the south by the Frith to which it gives name, and by which it is separated from the island of Sanda. The church is a plain building erected in 19th century.[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 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 North Ronaldshay, 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 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 Numbers
Births: 1800-1854 0990506 item 1
Marriages: 1819-1854 0990506 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: Births prior to 1800 are recorded in Cross and Burness. See: Sanday #26
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 1738–1744, 1847–1931
Cash Book 1846–1931
Note: Available on Film at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/1095.

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.

North Ronaldshay Free Church[edit | edit source]

Adam White, minister of the North Ronaldshay Parliamentary Church, and the majority of his congregation "came out" in 1843. The church and manse were completed in 1852. The factor's hostility, and emigration, adversely affected the congregation during 1849–1850. The share taken by the Free Church in agitating for the Crofters Act of 1886 gave stimulus to the congregation, but it suffered from the destruction of the inshore cod fishery, of which this island was an important center. The isolation of the island exercises a depressing influence. Wrecks used to be frequent along the shore. The rafters of the manse were made of timber supplied from a shipwreck.
Membership: 1848, 170; 1900, 146.
Source: Annals of the Free Church of Scotland, 1843–1900, ed. Rev. William Ewing, D.D., 2 vols. pub. 1914. Film #918572. More details may be given in the source.

Minutes 1846–1931
Deacons' Court Minutes 1846–1931
Baptisms 1844–1914
Marriages 1848–1911
Communion Roll 1847–1882
Note: Available on Film at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH3/1101.

Civil Registration Records
[edit | edit source]

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[edit | edit source]

Ronaldshay 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 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' of Orkney.

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.