Cockpen, Midlothian, Scotland Genealogy

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Scotland Gotoarrow.png Midlothian Gotoarrow.png Cockpen

Parish #676

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


COCKPEN, a parish, in the county of Edinburgh, 3 miles (S. by W.) from Dalkeith; containing the villages of Bonnyrigg, Dalhousie, Gowkshill, Hillhead, Hunterfield, Polton-Street, Prestonholme, Skiltiemuir, Stobhill-Engine, and Westmill. This place, which is on the river South Esk, is supposed to have derived its name from the situation of the church upon an eminence, and the prevailing colour of the soil. The church, erected in 1820, is a neat plain structure, containing 625 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 your parish of interest. 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 Cockpen, as well as the library numbers for any surname indexesavailable.

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

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

Years Covered FHL Film Number
Births: 1690-1820 1066642 items 3-4

1820-1854 1066671 item 1
Marriages: 1747-1820 1066642 items 3-4

1820-1855 1066671 item 1
Deaths: 1747-1824 1066642 items 3-4

1824. 1832-1854 1066671 item 1

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 also be indexed in other FamilySearch collections for Scotland.  
Births: This record appears to have been regularly kept.
Marriages: There are no entries for 1750. Entries of irregular marriages are frequent after 1783.
Deaths: Burials, There are no entries except three, 1812–1813 and 1824, April 1799–1839.
Source: Key to the Parochial Registers of Scotland, by V. Ben Bloxham, pub. 1970. British Book 941 K23b

Established Church—Kirk Session Records

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 and Accounts 1675–1680
Minutes 1695–1728, 1759–1909
Collections 1708–1712, 1720–1729
Disbursements 1704–1711, 1720–1729
Cash Books 1762–1867
Baptisms Register 1856–1937
Communion Roll 1834–1928
Heritors Records 1739–1744, 1757, 1766, 1782–1847
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/452.

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.

Cockpen Free Church

The minister and one elder of the parish “came out” in 1843 and a Free Church congregation was formed. Church, manse and school were built in the village of Bonnyrigg. The church served the two parishes of Cockpen and Lasswade. The development of carpet making and coal mining led to increase of population, especially between 1875 and 1895 and other Free Churches were opened in the surrounding district, at Loanhead and Gorebridge.
Membership: 1848, 301; 1900, 390
Source: Annals of the Free Church of Scotland, 1843–1900, ed. Rev. William Ewing, D.D., 2 vols. pub. 1914. FHL Film #918572. More details may be given in the source including ministers.

Extent of records is unknown.
No records are listed in the repertory of the National Archives of Scotland FHL Ref. book 941 K23sc CH3.
In 1844, both a Baptist chapel and a Morrisonian chapel were opened in Bonnyrigg. Attendance was small.

Hunterfield Branch, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

This church was formed about 1844. By 1848 the branch had a membership of 70 out of a total village population of 90. However, the branch ceased by 1855, its members having either gathered to Utah, been excommunicated, or removed themselves from the church rolls.

FHL Film Number
Record of Members, 1844–1853 0104153 item 4

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

Cockpen was under the probate jurisdiction of the Commissary Court of Edinburgh until 1823, and since then has been under the Sheriff's Court of Edinburgh. 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 Midlothian and the subject of 'Probate records.' Then click on the link to the records of the Commissariat of Edinburgh.

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

Read more about Scotland Probate Records.


  1. Lewis, Samuel A., A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland (1846), pp. 200-218. Adapted. Date accessed: 10 April 2014.

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