Knockbain, Ross and Cromarty, Scotland

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Ross and Cromarty

Parish #73 (formerly Kilmuir-Wester & Suddy)  

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


KNOCKBAIN, or Kilmuir Wester and Suddy, a parish, in the county of Ross and Cromarty, 3½ miles (N. N. W.) from Inverness; containing the villages of Charlestown and Munlochy. Previously to the union of the counties of Ross and Cromarty, this parish was locally in the county of Ross only. The name Kilmuir is Gaelic, implying "a church dedicated to Mary;" and Suddy signifies "a good place for a settlement." The two districts, once separate parishes, were united in 1756, when they received the name of Knockbain, by which they have since been called, but which was originally applied only to a cold and desolate moor, whereon the church and manse are built. The church is an ancient structure: when repaired about thirty years ago, it was sufficiently enlarged to admit 250 additional hearers, and at present it accommodates nearly 800 persons. The members of the Free Church have a place of worship; and there is an episcopal chapel.[1]

Kilmuir signifies in Gaelic “a church dedicated to Mary;” and Suddy, “a good place to settle in.” The parish is now commonly called Knockbain, from the name of the spot on which the kirk and manse are built. It is bounded on the south by the Moray Firth; on the north-west by part of the parish of Killearnan.

There are no market-towns in this parish; but Inverness is near. There are two villages, one at Munlochy, the other on the coast, laid out by the late Kilcoy, opposite the north entrance of the Caledonian Canal.

It is generally understood that a battle took place in this parish, in the thirteenth century, between the Macdonalds and the inhabitants of Inverness. The field on which it happened is called Blair-na-coi; and still bears the vestiges of many cairns placed there as a monument of the event.

Among the distinguished men born in this parish, is the late General John Randall Mackenzie, the son of Mackenzie of Suddy, a very old family in this county.

The parish of Kilmuir Wester and Suddy comprises part of the lands of these proprietors, Belmaduthy, Knockbain, Muirends, Munlochy, Wester Kessock, and Drumderfit, belong to Colin Mackenzie, Esq. Allangrange belongs to George F. Mackenzie, Esq. Easter Kessock belonging to the Trustees of the late Sir William Fetts, Bart. Drynie, belongs to George Graham, and Suddie belongs to Sir James W. Mackenzie, Bart.

The population in the parish in 1811 was 1766 people, and in 1831 it increased to 2139. There is no nobility that reside within the parish boundaries, but there are several persons of independent fortune, besides the heritors, who own the large farms, and the good habitable houses, and commodious squares built at the expense of the proprietor, Mr. Mackenzie of Kilcoy.

The number of imperial acres in cultivation in 3050, on which are grown wheat, barley, oats, peas, grass, turnips, and potatoes. The farmer’s stock consists of cows and horses. No sheep are kept but for the gentlemen’s use for their own tables.

There is no Government church in this parish, and neither missionaries, seceding chapels, nor Roman Catholics. There is one Episcopal chapel attended by 130 persons belonging to this parish, and as many more from the neighboring parishes. The minister is supported by the seat rents.

Source: New Statistical Account of Scotland, 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  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 Knockbain as well as the library numbers for any surname indexes available:

FHL Film Number
Surname Indexes
6037266 (6 fiche)
941.16/K3 X22k, 941.16/K3 X22c copy 3
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 FHL Film Number
Birth: 1749-1854 0990655
Marriage: 1791-1853 0990655
Death: No entries none

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.  The records may be indexed in the International Genealogical Index.
Births:There are nine entries for 1749–1751 and no entries 1751–1782, except six for 1764–1766. There are only a few entries 1782–1787 after which the record appears to be regular.
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 1750–1762, 1836–1934
Minutes and Accounts 1789–1847
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/913.

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.

Knockbain Munlochy Free Church

The minister and congregation of Knockbain, although the membership only numbered 83, "came out" in 1843. No site in the parish could be obtained, so the church and manse were built in the neighboring parish of Killearnan. The congregation split into two nearly equal parts over the building of a new church in 1886 at Munlochy. The part remaining in the original church became the congregation of Knockbain, West. Emigration and migration to the larger towns greatly reduced the population.
Membership: 1855, 900; 1900, 81.
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 1844–1964
Register of Births 1843–1854
Register of Marriages 1843–1850

Communion Roll 1867-1929

Proclamation Register 1892-1977

Baptisms 1880-1934

Congregational Treasurers Cash Book 1921-1935

Deacon's Court Minutes 1849-1934

Court Papers re construction of New Church 1884
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH3/1200.

The Registers for Knockbain Free Church are held in Highland Council Archives, Inverness, Scotland (Reference CH3/1200)

The Highland Family History Society has produced a publication of Births and Baptisms 1843-1854 and 1880 1920 and Marriages 1843-1850 for purchase.

[The Family History Library has copy of this publication of Births and Baptisms 1843-1854, 1880-1920 and Marriages 1843-1851]

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

Knockbain 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: 1 August 2014.

Return to Ross & Cromarty parish list.