Fearn, Ross and Cromarty, Scotland

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Ross and Cromarty

Parish # 64

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


FEARN, a parish, in the county of Ross and Cromarty, 5 miles (S. E.) from Tain; containing the villages of Balintore and Hiltown. The Gaelic name of this parish, Fearnn, signifies "the alder-tree," and was applied in consequence of the great number of alders growing at Mid-Fearn, in the parish of Edderton, in the neighbourhood. The church is of early English architecture.[1]

The name of the parish is the Gaelic word Fearnn, signifying the alder tree. This parish is bounded on the south, by the parish of Nigg; on the west, by Loggie (Easter); on the north, by Tain; and on the east and south-east, by Tarbat and the Murray Firth.

The chief landowners are, Robert Bruce Eneas Macleod of Cadboll; Hugh Ross of Cromarty; Representatives of the late William Baillie Rose of Rhine; David Monro of Allan; William Murray of Pittkeire and Meikle Rhine; Sir Charles Ross of Balnagown; George M.R. Ross of Polfoil; and Eneas Barclay of Mounteagle.

The population of this parish in 1801 was 1528, and by 1831, it was 1695.

No part of the parish could be cultivated with a profitable application of capital.

There is but one parochial register, that of baptisms and marriages, and it begins in 1749. The entries have been very irregularly made down until the year 1800. The number of families in the parish belonging to the Established Church, is 394; of Dissenting or Seceding families, 27.

This account was written February 1840.

Source: New Statistical Account of Scotland  for Fearn, FHL 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 http://edina.ac.uk/stat-acc-scot/.  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 Fearn as well as the library numbers for any surname indexes available:

FHL Film Number
Surname Indexes
6037266 (6 fiche)
6086658 (4 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

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 FHL Film Number
Births: 1749-1854 0990581
Marriages: 1783-1854 0990581
Deaths: 1783-1791 0990581


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 only twenty nine birth entries prior to 1768. There are irregular and incomplete records 1773–1781.
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 1771–1781
Poor Accounts 1781–1809, 1812–1845
Minutes 1784–1797 - with gaps, 1802–1822 - with gaps
Mortcloth Accounts 1790–1809
Minutes and Roll of Communicants July 31, 1837
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/995.

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.

Fearn Free Church

The elders of the parish adhered to the Free Church at the Disruption. A congregation was formed and a minister settled in December 1843. The church was erected in 1844. The manse was provided years later. A new church was begun in 1896 and the building was completed and opened in 1897. The manse was renovated in 1898–1899.
Membership: 1848, 195; 1900, 175.
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.

Begin in 1843

The Highland Family History Society has publications for sale.

The Register is held in Highland Council Archives, Inverness, Scotland (Reference CH3/962/8)

The Family History Library has a copy of Births 1844-1855 and Baptisms 1844-1890 [The Highland Family History Society has publications for sale and they have Tain Free Church Baptisms 1843-1866 available.

The Family History Library has a copy of Marriages 1843-1880 this publication available

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

Fearn 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 & Cormarty. Probate records for 1513- 1901 are indexed online at www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk. 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 for 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.