Cromarty, Ross and Cromarty, Scotland

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Ross and Cromarty

Parish # 61

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


CROMARTY, a burgh of barony, sea-port, and parish, in the county of Ross and Cromarty, 175 miles (N. by W.) from Edinburgh. This place, of which the Gaelic name, Crom Ba, signifying the crooked bay, is derived from the winding shore of the Frith of Cromarty, appears to have attained to some importance at an early period, though few details of its ancient history are recorded. It is identified in some degree with the usurper Macbeth, to whom it gave his earliest title of Thane of Cromarty. The church is a plain structure in very bad repair. The Gaelic chapel erected in 1783, by Mr. Ross, for the accommodation of the Highlanders employed in his factory, contains 580 sittings. The Gaelic people now come indiscriminately from all parts of the parish. There is also a place of worship for members of the Free Church.[1]

The parish is said to owe its name Cromba, meaning crook in the bay, to the windings and indentations of its shores. It is surrounded by a highly picturesque country; and is rich in prospects which combine the softer beauties of the lowlands with the bolder graces peculiar to the alpine district.

The celebrated Macbeth makes his first appearance in history as Thane of Cromarty. In a later age, the hill directly behind the town, was the scene, says tradition, of one of Wallace’s victories of the English; and a few shapeless hillocks which may still be seen among the trees and bushes that now cover the eminence, were raised, it is said to cover the slain.

Sir Thomas Urquhart, famous for his Genealogy and his Universal Language, was a native of Cromarty, and during the reign of Charles I proprietor of nearly the entire shire. He was born in 1613, and died on the continent after an eventful life spent in courts and camps, in prison and in exile, on the eve of the Restoration. Few of his works survive. Nearly a hundred manuscripts, the labours of his studious hours, were lost on the disastrous field of Worcester, where he was taken prisoner by the army of the Commonwealth.

The late Dr. James Robertson, Librarian of the University of Edinburgh, and Professor of the Oriental languages, is also a native of Cromarty parish.

The lands of the parish, with the exception of a few little patches, are divided between two proprietors, Hugh Rose Ross, Esq. of Cromarty, and Captain George Mackay Sutherland of Udale.

Mr. George Middleton, a gentleman from England, erected the first thrashing mill seen in this part of the country, and exported the first wheat.

The population of the parish in 1801 amounted to about 2413, and had increased to 2900 in 1831.

Prior to the Reformation there were no fewer than six chapels in the parish, but a broken wall and a few green mounds now form their only remains, even the very names of three of them have perished. Two of the others were dedicated to St Duthac and St Bennet. Still known is the chapel of St Regulus, and it is said that there once belonged to it a valuable historical record, the work probably of some literary monk or hermit, which at the Reformation was carried away to France by the priest.

The parish church is situated in the eastern part of the town. Its first minister was a Mr. Robert Williamson, whose initials may still be seen on a flat triangular stone, which bears the date 1593.

This account was written September 1836.

Source: New Statistical Account of Scotland for Cromarty, Family History Library book 941 B4sa, series 2, vol. 14.

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 you are interested in. 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 Cromarty as well as the library numbers for any surname indexes available:

Family History Library Film Number
Surname Indexes
6037266 (6 fiche)
6206400  (4 fiche)
6086658 (4 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

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: 1675-1854 0990579
Marriages: 1679-1854 0990579
Deaths: 1827-1854 0990579

Condition of Original Registers—

Index: 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:There are no entries March 1690–1699 and March 1732–May 1740, except three for 1750, April 1746–December 1751.
Marriages: There are no entries May 1690–February 1698 and July 1723–September 1724; one entry for 1728. There are no entries December 1731–January 1752, from which date to 1761 marriages are recorded among the baptisms for the same period. No entries, except one, 1761–November 1771.
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 1678–1690, 1738–1934
Seat Rent Book 1741–1828
Cash Book 1825–1891
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/672.

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.

Cromarty Free Church

The minister of Cromarty and practically all his congregation "came out" in 1843. They were joined by adherents of the Free Church from the Gaelic chapel in Cromarty, for whom Gaelic services were held in the evenings. The Gaelic and English sections were formally united under a minister, who could preach in both Gaelic and English.
Membership: 1848, 94; 1900, 275.
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, including ministers.

Minutes 1843–1920
Finance Committee Minutes 1844–1849,
Deacons’ Court Minutes 1849–1955
Cash Book 1843–1875

Congregation Minutes, Seat Rent 1843-1844

Seat Offerings 1896-1914

Baptismal Roll 1875-1911, 1918

Register of Marriages 1843–1847

Communion Roll 1871-1881, n.d., 1895-1905, 1916-1929
List of Depositors, Sustentation Fund Accounts 1849–1861
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH3/586

The Register is held in Highland Council Archives, Inverness, Scotland (Reference CH3/586). 

The Highland Family HIstory Scoiety has published The Cromarty Free Church records of Baptisms 1875-1918 and Marriages 1843-1847.

The Family History Library has a copy of this publication

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

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

The library also has some post-1823 probate records for Ross & Cromarty. Look in the library catalog for the 'Place-names' of Ross & Cromarty 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. 499-514. Adapted. Date accessed: 30 July 2014.

Return to Ross & Cromarty parish list.