Orphir, Orkney, Scotland Genealogy

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Parish #23

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

History[edit | edit source]

ORPHIR, a parish, in the county of Orkney, 8 miles (S. W.) from Kirkwall; containing the island of Cava. This place derives its name, in the Norwegian language Orfer, from the mossy nature of its soil. The church is beautifully situated on rising ground on the eastern shore; it was erected in 1829, and contains 574 sittings. The members of the Free Church have a place of worship.[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 Orphir, as well as the library numbers for any surname indexes available:

Family History Library Film Number

Surname Indexes

6393837 (1 fiche)

6393848 ( 2 fiche)
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 Family History  LibraryFilm Number
Births: 1708-1854 0990506item 2
Marriages: 1709-1854 0990506 item 2
Deaths: 1817-1854 0990506 item 2


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: Except for three fragments, the first 13 pages of this record are lost. The register is incomplete 1747–1759, pages 117–158 inclusive of the original record being lost. There are entries for that period in a modern hand.
Marriages: There are no entries July 1763–February 1764, one page is lost.
Deaths: There are seven entries, 1748–1751, on the flyleaf.
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 1709–1764, 1836–1944
Minutes and Accounts 1764–1835
Cash Book 1836–1941
List of Inhabitants 18 May 1821
Note: Available on Film at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/1093.

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.

Ophir Free Church, North Church[edit | edit source]

Immediately after the Disruption supply of sermon was arranged for the Free Church adherents at Ophir. The church was built in 1843–1844, and the manse in 1845–1846. The charge was sanctioned in 1844.
Membership: 1848, 231; 1900, 214.
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.

Session Minutes 1844–1944
Baptismal Register 1844–1943
Note: Available on Film at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH3/1102 or RH4/83/55–56. The original records are available at Orkney Archives at Kirkwall, Orkney.

Note: The Free Church session minutes for 1844–1900 and baptisms for 1844–1854 are available online at: http://web.ukonline.co.uk/meg.greenwood/

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.

Testamentary Records
[edit | edit source]

Orphir was under the jurisdiction of the Commissary Court of Orkney & Shetland until 1823, and since then has been under the Sheriff's Court of Kirkwall. Note that Scotland has no system of "Probate" - the process is called "Confirmation", and a "will" is only part (not a necessary part) of a Testament. A testament containing a latterwill ("Legacie") is a Testament Testamentar and one with no lagtterwill is a Testament Dative. usually, these contain an Inventar (invetory).

Testamentary records for 1513- 1901 are indexed online at www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk. You must register on the website but use of the index to '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 testamentary records for Orkney. Look in the library catalog for the 'Place' 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.