Nesting, Shetland, Scotland Genealogy

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Scotland Gotoarrow.png Shetland Gotoarrow.png Nesting

Parish #7  This parish includes Lunnasting, Whalsay & Skerries

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


NESTING, LUNASTING, and WHALSAY, a parish, in the Shetland Isles. This parish consists of the three districts or ancient parishes of Nesting, Lunasting, and Whalsay, with the small islands of Skerries on the north-east. The church of Nesting was built in 1792, and is in decent repair; that of Whalsay has been new-roofed, but is deficient in accommodation; and the church of Lunasting, which, with that of Whalsay, is visited by the minister eleven times in the year, has been recently repaired, and is well seated. A church at Skerries, situated at the distance of sixteen miles from the Mainland, is visited only once yearly.[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 Nesting, as well as the library numbers for any surname indexes available:

Familyu History Library Film Numbers
Surname Indexes
6086700 (2 fiche)

1804                                  477622 Item 13

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
1783-1854 - Nesting

1781-1854 - Lunnasting

1787-1854 - Whalsay & Skerries
1828-1854 - Nesting

1795-1854 - Lunnasting

1787-1854 - Whalsay & Skerries
1787-1854 - Nesting

1787-1824 - Whalsay & Skerries


Condition of Original Registers—

Indexed: For an index to these records, see the Scottish Church Records Index availabel on computers at the Family History Library and family history centers.  Some records may also be indexed in other FamilySearch collections for Scotland.
Births: Nesting registers proceed continuously as a narrative without the entries being distinguished from each other by any break. Dates are irregular 1808 to the end of the record. The whole record previous to 1828 is contained on eleven pages.
Marriages: Nesting has no records prior to 1828. Whalsay and Skerries have one page of entries, 1845–1747, on first page of death register.
Source: Key to the Parochial Registers of Scotland, by V. Ben Bloxham, pub. 1970. British Book941 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:

No pre-1855 records.

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.

Nesting Congregational Church

A church was formed here about 1842. They met in the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel at Vassa. This congregation may have joined with that of Lerwick in 1864.
Sources: A History of Scottish Congregationalism, by Harry Escott, pub. 1960; FHL Book 941 K2es and The Scottish Congregational Ministry, by Rev. William D. McNaughton, pub. 1993. FHL Book 941 K2mwd. More details are given in the sources including ministers.

The extent of records is unknown. For information write to:
The United Reformed Church, Scottish Synod Office
PO Box 189
240 Cathedral Street
Glasgow G1 2BX

Lunnasting Baptist Church

Early converts were baptized by Sinclair Thomson of Dunrossness. A congregation was formed about 1836 and a chapel was built in 1847. For many years it had no pastor but was served jointly with Sandsting.
Source: History of the Baptists in Scotland, by Rev. George Yuille, pub. 1926. FHL Book 941 K2hi. More details are given in the source including ministers.

No known early records. See Sandsting and Dunrossness.

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

Nestin was under the probate jurisdiction of the Commissary Court of Orkney & Shetland until 1823, and since then has been under the Sheriff's Court of Lerwick. 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 Shetland and the subject of 'Probate records.' Then click on the link to the records of the Commissariat of Orkney & Shetland.
The library also has some post-1823 probate records for Shetland. Look in the library catalog for the 'Place-names' of Shetland  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: 15 August 2014.

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