Stromness, Orkney, Scotland Genealogy
This is a guide to the history and major genealogical records of Scotland as they pertain to the parish of Stromness. To learn more about how to use these records to search for your ancestors, go to the Scotland: Research Strategies.
- 1 History
- 2 Census Records
- 3 Church Records
- 4 Civil Registration Records
- 5 Probate Records
- 6 References
STROMNESS, a sea-port town, burgh of barony, and parish, in the county of Orkney, 14 miles (W. by S.) from Kirkwall. This place derives its name from a point of land at its southern extremity, boldly projecting into the sound of Hoy, against which the tide rushes with violent rapidity, and which, by affording shelter from the west winds, forms a commodious harbour. The church, erected in 1816, is a large structure with a small spire; it is situated in the burgh, and contains 1200 sittings. There are places of worship for members of the Free Church and the United Secession.
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 reports for your parish of interest. Also available at the Family History Library.
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 Stromness. as well as the library numbers for any surname indexes available:
Family History Library Film Number
6393840 (2 fiche)
|| 6393851 (3 fiche)|
|| 6086634 (2 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.
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|
Condition of Original Registers—
Indexed: 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 no entries 1702–1722. 1754–1764 is a duplicate record.
Marriages: There are no marriage entries 1702–1722, April 1726–December 1728, May 1747–November 1751 and December 1771–November 1775.
Deaths: There are no entries June 1765–May 1787.
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:
Minutes 1754–1762, 1813–1971
Cash Book 1796–1950
Note: Available on Film at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/1103.
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.
Stromness Associate, Anti-burgher Church
Stromness is a seaport and the second town in importance in Pomona, or the mainland of Orkney. Thirty-four members of the congregation of Kirkwall residing in Stromness applied to the General Associate, Anti-burgher Presbytery of Edinburgh in 1803 for supply of sermon which was granted. Upon a second petition they were disjoined from Kirkwall and formed into a separate congregation in 1806. The church was built the same year but not fully seated until 1811, sitting 643. A new church was built in 1863, sitting 780.
Source: Annals and Statistics of the United Presbyterian Church, by Rev. William MacKelvie, D.D., pub. 1873. Film #477618. More details may be given in the source.
Baptismal Register 1853–1950
Communion Roll 1853–1865
Note: Available on Film at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH3/1114.
Stromness Free Church
Peter Learmonth, minister of Stromness, and a congregation of 600, "came out" in 1843. For two Sabbaths they worshiped in the open air on Miller's Pier and then worshiped in a large store called "the warehouse," until the church was ready for occupation in 1844. The manse was built in 1865. A new church was erected on the old site and opened in 1892. The membership decreased with the decline of the population in town and country. For many years the Free Church school was the chief educational center in the town.
Membership: 1848, 550; 1900, 396.
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.
Deacons' Court Minutes 1844–1897
Baptismal Register 1843–1970
Note: Available on Film at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH3/1115.
Note: The Free Church session minutes for 1844–1845 are available online at: http://web.ukonline.co.uk/meg.greenwood/
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.
Stromness 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 Kirkwall. 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' of Orkney 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 Orkney. Look in the library catalog for the 'Place-names' of Orkney and the subjects of 'Probate Records' and 'Probate Records - Indexes.'
Read more about Scotland Probate Records.
- Lewis, Samuel A., A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland (1846), pp. 499-514. Adapted. Date accessed: 15 August 2014.
Return to Orkney parish list.