Cawdor, Nairnshire, Scotland Genealogy

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Parish #122

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


CAWDOR, a parish, partly in the county of Inverness, but chiefly in that of Nairn; 5½ miles (S. S. W.) from Nairn. This place was anciently called Barewan, or Barivan, from the situation of the original church, of which there are some remains in the braes or hilly parts of the parish, and from its patron saint, Ewan. The church, built in 1619, and repaired and improved in 1830, is a neat structure, containing 681 sittings. There is a place of worship for members of the Free Church.[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 Cawdor. Also available at the Family History Library.

Census Records

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 Cawdor as well as the library numbers for any surname indexes available:

Year Family History Library Film Number Surname Index
1841     1042643 None
1851 1042100 None
1861 0103887 None
1871 0104066 None
1881 0203429  6086628 (1 fiche)
1891 0208646 None

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 an index through the library.

Church Records

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

Record Type Years Covered Family History Library Film Number
Births: 1719-1854 0990983
Marriages: 1719-1854 0990983
Deaths: None None
Condition of Original Registers—

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 be indexed in the International Genealogical Index.
Births: These records were regularly kept.
Marriages: There are no entries for November 1726–November 1735 or for July 1779–February1793. From 1793 to about 1808, the annual number of entries is fewer than the previous period.
Source: Key to the Parochial Registers of Scotland, by V. Ben Bloxham, pub. 1970. Family History Library book 941 K23b.

Established Church—Kirk Session Records

The Kirk session was the court of the parish. The Kirk session was made up of he 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: 1719–1828
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/674.

Nonconformist Church Records

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.

Cawdor Free Church

The minister of Cawdor with most of his congregation left the Established Church in 1843. A church was built the same year at Newton of Budgate.
Membership:1848, 80; 1900, 133.
Source: Annals of the Free Church of Scotland, 1843–1900, ed. Rev. William Ewing, D.D., 2 vols. pub. 1914. Film #918572. More details are given in the source.

There are no known pre-1855 records.

Civil Registration Records

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

Cawdor was under the probate jurisdiction of the Commissary Court of Moray until 1823, and since then has been under the Sheriff's Court of Nairn. 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' of Nairn (the county) and the subject of 'Probate records.' Then click on the link to the records of the Commissariot of Moray.

Read more about Scotland Probate Records.


  1. Lewis, Samuel A., A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland (1846), pp. 499-514. Adapted. Date accessed: 3 July 2014.

[Return to Nairn parish list.]