Perth, Perthshire, Scotland Genealogy

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

History[edit | edit source]

PERTH, a city, a royal burgh, and anciently the metropolis of the kingdom of Scotland, in the county of Perth, of which it is the capital; comprising the parishes of East Church, Middle Church, St. Paul, and West Church, and the late quoad sacra district of St. Leonard; 44 miles (N. by W.) from Edinburgh, and 61 (N. E.) from Glasgow. This place, which is of very remote antiquity, is supposed to have derived its name, originally Bertha, from the Celtic terms Bhar, "high," and Tatha, "the Tay," signifying "the Height of the Tay," from a lofty eminence on the opposite bank of that river, on the west side of which Perth is situated. The parish of St. John the Baptist was formerly the only one, and the ancient church was supplied by but one minister till the year 1595, when a second was appointed; in 1716 a third minister was appointed by the town-council, to meet the wants of a rapidly increasing population, and the church was converted into three separate churches, called respectively East, Middle, and West. Since that period the parish has been divided into several parishes, and the churches of St. Paul, St. Leonard, and St. Stephen erected. There are places of worship for members of the Free Church, the United Secession, Original Burghers, and Glassites, and a Roman Catholic chapel.[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 Scotland Census Records.

Click here for a list of the Family History Library microfilm numbers for the census records of Lanark.

Below is information for any known surname indexes:


Years Surname Index   
1851 CD-ROM no. 1850
1861 6205865
1881 6086616 ( 41 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 indexes through the library.

Church Records
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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 103895[edit | edit source]

Record Type
Years Covered
Family History Library Film Number












1809-1854 - neglected entries







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.  The records may be indexed in the Genealogical Index.
Births: The birth record prior to 1581 is tabulated and the entries, when complete, consist of the date and four names, the father, child, and two witnesses. No entries February 1581–December 1614, December 1649–October 1653, and August 1687–October 1691. After the record for 1771 is an appendix (49 pages) containing entries for 1749–1771. Mothers' names are not recorded until October 1653.
Marriages: No marriage entries December 1566–January 1568, December 1570–June 1571, and November 1577–June 1578. After the record for February 1581 occurs a separate record of contracts or proclamations June 1565–March 1569. The entries prior to 1581 contain no information respecting the parties, except their names. No entries February 1581–October 1653, except two, February 1655–June 1657, and September 1669–August 1691. There are five incomplete entries after September 1657. Separate records of proclamations and of marriages June 1693–April 1698.
Deaths: No death entries October 1563–January 1568 and December 1576–June 1578. Half of the last page, August–November 1581, is cut off. The entries usually record only the names of the deceased. The designation, however, is occasionally added.
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:

Perth St. John's General Session[edit | edit source]

Minutes 1577–1624, 1631–1642, 1665–1686, 1692–1921
Baptisms for Burgh and Parish of Perth 1779–1782
Baptismal Register 1815–1854
Marriage Registers 1828–1901
Treasurers Accounts 1853–1918
Letter Book 1833–1850, 1854–1865
Scroll Baptismal Register 1843–1854
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/521.

Perth Middle Church[edit | edit source]

Minutes 1808–1851
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/584.

Roll of Male Heads of Families[edit | edit source]

1834, 1835 and 1836 lists of male heads of families in this parish can be found here.

Perth East Church[edit | edit source]

Minutes 1808–1892
Baptismal Register 1853–1859
Marriage Registers 1853–1859
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/585.

Roll of Male Heads of Families[edit | edit source]

1834 and 1835 lists of male heads of families in this parish can be found here.

Perth West Church[edit | edit source]

Minutes 1808–1844, 1858–1923
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/586.

Roll of Male Heads of Families[edit | edit source]

1834, 1835, 1836 and 1838 lists of male heads of families in this parish can be found here.

Perth St. Paul's Church[edit | edit source]

Minutes 1808–1906
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/587.

Roll of Male Heads of Families[edit | edit source]

1834 and 1835 lists of male heads of families in this parish can be found here.

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 Lists.

General Statement:
According to the report in the New Statistical Account of Scotland, written in 1837, the seceding places of worship in Perth were one for the Old Light Burghers, two for the New Light Burghers and Anti-burghers, or United Secession, and two for the Relief church. Some of these would later have been United Presbyterian congregations. The places of worship for dissenters were one for the Independents, one for the Baptists, one for general Baptists, and another for Glasites. There was also an Episcopalian chapel, a Wesleyan Methodist chapel, and a Catholic chapel. The population included 11,683 in the Established Church, 7101 belonging to other denominations, 228 Catholics, and 589 professing no religion.

To see a list of nonconformist churches in Perth, with their histories and information about records, click here.

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.

Directories[edit | edit source]

Courtesy of the National Library of Scotland, Post Office Directories are avilable online. The directories available for Perth are:

1837-1912: These are available in either PDF format or viewable online. (Some years are missing)

Poorhouse Records
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There are three poorhouses:




Probate Records
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Perth was under the probate jurisdiction of the Commissary Court of St. Andrews until 1823, and since then has been under the Sheriff's Court of Dunblane. 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 Perthshire and the subject of 'Probate records.' Then click on the link to the records of the Commissariat of St.Andrews.

The library also has some post-1823 probate records for Perthshire. Look in the library catalog for the 'Place-names' of Perthshire 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. 351-367. Adapted. Date accessed: 16 May 2014.

Return to Perthshire parish list.