Killearnan, Ross and Cromarty, Scotland

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Parish  # 68

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


The origin of the name of this parish, by tradition, is named for the burial ground of Irenan, a Danish prince who fell in battle on the northern parts of the parish. In all church records, it is now known as Killearnan. It is bounded on the west by the parish of Urray; on the north by the parish of Urquhart; on the east by the parish of Kilmuir Wester and Suddy; and on the south by the Firth of Beauly.

There are no market-towns in the parish, the nearest one is in Inverness. There is no post-office; no bridges; no canals or rail-roads; no harbors, though vessels of a considerable tonnage can safely load and unload on the shore of the east end of the parish.

There are two heritors of the property, namely the Trustees of the late Sir William Fettes, Bart. residing in Edinburgh, and Colin Mackenzie, Esq. of Kilcoy.

Eminent men of the parish are the late General Mackenzie Fraser who was born in the castle of Kilcoy. He distinguished himself at the siege of Gibraltar early in life, and his character as a military man is fully known. He died in the rank of Lieutenant- General, regretted, esteemed, and beloved by all who knew him. Another distinguished officer, is Lieutenant-General Sir Kenneth Mackenzie, is a descendant of the Kilcoy family on the maternal side, who later took on the name of Douglas of Glenbervie. His military character is well known. General Sir George Elder was born in this parish, of humble but respectable parents, near the Castle of Kilcoy. By his merits alone, he overcame all difficulties, and raised himself to his distinguished rank and station.

The population of the parish, according to the census of 1831, is 1479.

The improvement in agriculture in the parish has greatly improved, in that the lands are laid out and cultivated in the most modern style. There are many scores of acres yielding wheat and green crops. The principle tenants raise heavy crops of wheat, barley, oats, rye, pease, beans, potatoes, turnips, and clover, in great abundance. The principal farmers raise their own horses and cattle, which they use for farming purposes.

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

FHL Film Number
Surname Indexes
6037266 (6 fiche)
941.16/K4 X22w
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: 1744-1854 0990584
Marriage: 1815-1854 0990584
Death: No entries none


Condition of Original Registers—

Index: For an index to these records, see the Scottish Church Records Index available on computers at the Family History Library and family history centers.  The records may indexed in the International Genealogical Index.
Births: No entries July 1792–January 1793; otherwise regularly kept.
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 and Accounts 1744–1797
Poors’ Fund Accounts 1815–1842
List of Communicants 1834–1840
Minutes - Discipline 1834–1835
List of Ministers of Killearnan 1226–1890
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/918.

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.

Killearnan or Redcastle Free Church

The minister of Killernan, and nearly all his people "came out" in 1843. A large double roofed church was erected. It was replaced in the early 1860s. The rural population greatly declined from 1843 onwards.
Membership: 1848, 145; 1900, 51.
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.

No pre-1855 records.

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

Killearnan 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 & Cromarrty and the subjects of 'Probate Records' and 'Probate Records - Indexes.'

Read more about Scotland Probate Records.

Return to Ross & Cromarty parish list.