East Lothian (or Haddingtonshire), Scotland Genealogy

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East Lothian (or Haddingtonshire until 1921), is a maritime county in the south-east of Scotland, bounded on the north and east by the Firth of Forth, on the south by the county of Berwick, and on the west by Edinburghshire.  It is about twenty-five miles in length and sixteen in extreme breadth, comprising an area of 224 square miles or 144,510 acres.  

The county is the eastern part of Lothian, an extensive district including also the shires of Linlithgow on the west and Edinburgh in the middle, and since 1974 has been part of the region of Lothian. It was erected into a separate county during the reign of James VII (1603-1625). It consists of twenty-four parishes and contains the three royal burghs of Haddington (the county town), Dunbar, and North Berwick, as well as several populous villages and numerous smaller villages.

The county was once part of the Saxon kingdom of Northumbria until the year 1020 when it was ceded to Malcolm II and annexed to Scotland.  In 1296 it was the scene of the battle of Dunbar and again in 1650 it suffered from the English under Cromwell.  In 1745 it was the scene of the battle of Prestonpans between the forces of the Pretender and the English. 

The surface of the county is varied.  Towards the shores of the Firth of Forth it is nearly level but rises by gentle undulations towards the south, and into ridges of moderate elevation which extend from east to west, and along the southern boundary form part of the Lammermoor hills.  On the west is the fruitful valley of the river Tyne.  About two-thirds of the land is arable and the remainder is in meadow and pasture with some extensive woodlands and plantations.  Several crops are grown with wheat as the staple.  The county has long been distinguished for the excellence of its produce.  Cattle and sheep are also raised.  Coal, limestone, ironstone clay, and sandstone are all wrought and quarried.  The manufactures carried on are unimportant compared to the agriculture.  There is a herring-fishery with accommodation at the harbour of Dunbar.

The population in 1851 was 35,886.

(Source:  Samuel Lewis' Topographical Dictionary of Scotland, 2nd ed., 1851.  FHL book 941 E5L.)


Here is a list of historic parishes for the county of East Lothian or Haddingtonshire with their parish numbers. Click on the parish name for information about records.

Parish No. Parish No.
Aberlady 702 Ormiston 715
Athelstaneford 703 Pencaitland 716
Bara -- see Garvald     707 Prestonkirk 717
Bolton 704 Prestonhaugh -- see Prestonkirk 717
Dirleton 705 Prestonpans 718
Dunbar 706 Salton 719
Garvald & Bara 707 Spott 720
Gladsmuir 708 Stenton 721
Haddington 709 Tranent 722
Humbie 710 Tynninghame -- see Whitekirk 723
Innerwick 711 Whitekirk & Tynninghame 723
Morham 712 Whittinghame 724
North Berwick 713 Yester 725
Oldhamstocks 714


The Scottish government began taking censuses of its population in 1841, and every ten years thereafter. The records must be 100 years old before they are released to the public, so the most recent record available is for the 1901 census. Read more about census records.

Many census records have been indexed by surname. Some indexes cover one parish (and will be listed in the Wiki on the parish page) and some indexes are for the county as a whole. The Family History Library has county-wide census indexes for East Lothian for 1851 and 1881.

The library also has a collection of census surname indexes for different places within East Lothian (or Haddingtonshire). Click here to see a table listing these other census surname indexes that are available at the library.


Haddington, c. 1845.jpg

Click on the map to see a larger version, then click again on the larger map.  Click the 'Expand' button when it appears in the lower right-hand corner of the map.

Click here to see an outline map of the parishes of East Lothian.

Poorhouse Records

East Lothian Combinationwww.workhouses.org.uk/EastLothian/

Helpful Websites

[Return to county list.]