Scotland Church Records and Kirk Session Records - FamilySearch Historical Records

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Scotland Church Records and Kirk Session Records, 1658-1919
This article describes a collection of records at
Flag of Scotland.png
Flag of Scotland
Scotland in United Kingdom.svg.png
Location of Scotland
Record Description
Record Type Church and Kirk Sessions
Collection years 1658-1919
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites
National Archives of Scotland

What is in This Collection?[edit | edit source]

This collection contains Scotland Church Records for the years 1658-1919. The records were originally filmed at the National Archives of Scotland.

This specific collection includes a compilation of records of Kirk Sessions (meetings of local church leaders), Presbyteries (church court for several parishes/areas), and Synods (church court for several Presbyteries), containing registers of births/baptisms, marriages, and burial records. It cannot be over emphasized that many of the entries found in Kirk Session records of baptisms, marriages and burials pertain to those belonging to other seceder Presbyterian spin-off churches (Non-Church of Scotland) and/or Nonconformist religions.

The Church of Scotland (Presbyterian based) has been the recognized national church in Scotland since 1690. However, the were several splits from the Church of Scotland well after this year, and there was the Reformed Presbyterian Church which has origins well before the Church of Scotland was designated as the national and the recognized state-sponsored church in 1690.

Image Visibility[edit | edit source]

Whenever possible FamilySearch makes images and indexes available for all users. However, rights to view these data are limited by contract and subject to change. Because of this there may be limitations on where and how images and indexes are available or who can see them. Please be aware some collections consist only of partial information indexed from the records and do not contain any images. For additional information about image restrictions see Restrictions for Viewing Images in FamilySearch Historical Record Collections.

What Can These Records Tell Me?[edit | edit source]

The following information may be found in these records:


  • Name
  • Baptism/Christening date
  • Baptism/Christening place
  • Birth date
  • Birthplace
  • Parents’ names
  • Parents’ residence


  • Names of bride and groom
  • Maiden name of bride
  • Ages
  • Birthplaces
  • Date and place of marriage
  • Names of fathers
  • Names and maiden names of mothers
  • Names of witnesses and officiating clergy


  • Name
  • Date and place of death
  • Age at death
  • Place of residence
  • Cause of death
  • Spouse’s name
  • Name of parents

Possible Record Locations[edit | edit source]

  • Aberdeen
  • Angus
  • Argyll
  • Ayr
  • Banffshire
  • Berwick
  • Bute
  • Caithness
  • Clackmannan
  • Dumfries
  • Dunbarton
  • East Lothian
  • Fife
  • Inverness
  • Kincardineshire
  • Kinross
  • Kirkcudbright
  • Lanark
  • Midlothian
  • Moray
  • Nairn
  • Orkney
  • Peebles
  • Perth
  • Renfrew
  • Ross and Cromarty
  • Roxburgh
  • Selkirk
  • Stirling
  • Sutherland
  • West Lothian
  • Wigtown
  • Zetland (Shetland)

How Do I Search This Collection?[edit | edit source]

Before searching this collection, it is helpful to know:

  • Name of person
  • Date of record

Search the Index[edit | edit source]

Search by name on the Collection Details Page.
  1. Fill in the search boxes in the Search Collection section with the information you know
  2. Click Search to show possible matches

How Do I Analyze the Results?[edit | edit source]

Compare each result from your search with what you know to determine if there is a match. This may require viewing multiple records or images. Keep track of your research in a research log.

What Do I Do Next?[edit | edit source]

I Found the Person I Was Looking For, What Now?[edit | edit source]

  • Add any new information to your records
  • Use the information which has been discovered to find more. For instance, use the estimated age given in a marriage or burial record to calculate an approximate year of birth, if that is yet undetermined
  • Use the information which has been discovered to find the individual in other records
  • Continue to search the records to identify children, siblings, parents, and other relatives. Note that family members often appear on an individual's vital records, such as in the role of witnesses to a marriage
  • Some records show a couple’s “intent to marry,” also called the Proclamation of Banns. Usually the intent to marry was proclaimed in the parishes of both the bride and groom. However, just because a proclamation was given does not guarantee that the marriage actually occurred

I Can't Find the Person I'm Looking For, What Now?[edit | edit source]

If you did not find your ancestors in the Church of Scotland registers, this may indicate that:

  • Your ancestors were members of the established church but their events were not registered
  • They were registered but the records have been lost/damaged over time
  • They were nonconformists (members of "dissenter" religions i.e. Episcopalians, Roman Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, Quakers, Independent/Congregational, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, etc.)
  • They were seceders belonging to one of the various other prevalent Presbyterian faiths such as Reformed, Secessionist, Free Church, United Free Church, Anti-burghers, and etc.
  • Check for variant spellings of given names, surnames, and place names. Remember that it was not uncommon for an individual be listed under a nickname- often, a shortened or alternate version of their given name- in either their marriage or burial record. Note that some women reverted to their maiden name when their husband died, and therefore are buried under their maiden name
  • When looking for a person with a common name, look at all the entries for the name before deciding which individual is correct. Use other information, such as place of birth, age, occupation, or names of parents, to determine which candidate is the correct person
  • Search the records of nearby parishes. While it was uncommon for an individual in this period to move more than about 40 miles from their place of birth over the course of their life, smaller relocations were not uncommon. Note that marriages usually took place in the parish where the bride resided
  • Vary the search terms. For example, search by either the given name or surname to return broader list of possible candidates which can then be examined for matches. Alternatively, try expanding the date range; this is especially useful in searching baptismal records, as it was not unusual for a child to be baptized weeks or even months after birth
  • If possible, look at the actual image of the record to verify the information found in the index
  • If listed, a personal title may be a clue to property ownership or occupation, either of which might be noted in other records

Research Helps[edit | edit source]

The following articles will help you in your research for your family in Scotland.

Citing This Collection[edit | edit source]

Citations help you keep track of places you have searched and sources you have found. Identifying your sources helps others find the records you used.

Collection Citation:
The citation for this collection can be found on the Collection Details Page in the section Citing this Collection.
Record Citation:
When looking at a record, the citation can be viewed by clicking the drop-down arrow next to Document Information.