Alva, Stirlingshire, Scotland Genealogy

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Parish #470                    

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

History[edit | edit source]

ALVA, a parish, in the county of Stirling, 7 miles (N. E. by E.) from Stirling. The name of this place, the orthography of which has successively passed through the different forms of Alueth, and Alvath, or Alveth, to that of Alva, is of Gaelic origin, and is supposed to be derived from the term Ailbheach, signifying "rocky," and to have been applied to this spot, as descriptive of the general character of its hills. The church was formerly mensal, and belonged to the bishoprie of Dunkeld; the edifice was built in 1632.[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[edit | edit source]

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 Alva, as well as the library numbers for any surname indexes available.

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[edit | edit source]

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[edit | edit source]

Record Type Years Covered Family History Library. Film Number
Births: 1655-1854 1041970
Marriages: 1664-1848 1041970
Deaths: 1726-1806 1041970

Condition of Original Registers—
[edit | edit source]

Index: 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.  Some records may also be indexed in other FamilySearch collections for Scotland.
Births: Duplicate of record 1655–May 1717. Records have been regularly kept throughout. Pages of records after 1716 have been subscribed by the Session–Clerk. Mothers’ names not recorded until 1684.
Marriages: Portion prior to June 1717 is merely a transcript. Pages of record from 1717–1779, have been subscribed by the Session-Clerk. After May 1810, the fact of marriage is seldom recorded. See also Kirk Sessions below.
Deaths: Burials; names of two witnesses of the interments usually added to the entries before 1779. There is one entry for 1830. See also Kirk Sessions below.
Source: Key to the Parochial Registers of Scotland, by V. Ben Bloxham, pub. 1970.Family History Library. British Book 941 K23b.

Established Church—Kirk Session Records[edit | edit source]

The Kirk session was the court of the parish. The Kirk session was made up of he 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 1681–1690, 1716–1984
Accounts 1666–1756, 1760–1829, 1846–1930
Marriage Register 1673–1717
Proclamation Register 1849–1979
Lairs Burial Plots Register 1670–1840
Congregational Roll 1836–1866
Note: Available at the Stirling Council Archives, Stirling, Scotland, record CH2/10.

Nonconformist Church Records[edit | edit source]

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.

Alva United Associate Church, later United Free Eadie[edit | edit source]

This congregation originated with members of the congregation of Alloa and Tillicoultry who were desirous of having a place of worship more conveniently situated for them. There was both room and need for another church in Alva, which had been rapidly growing by the introduction and extension of the woollen manufactures. They applied for and obtained a supply of sermons from the United Associate Presbytery of Stirling and Falkirk in 1839. A place of worship was built in 1842.
Source: Annals and Statistics of the United Presbyterian Church, by Rev. William MacKelvie, D.D., pub. 1873.Family History Library. Film #477618. More details may be given in the source including a list of ministers.

Managers’ Minutes 1849–1868
Seat Letting Book 1849–1873
Note: Available at the Stirling Council Archives, Stirling, Scotland, records CH3/1255.

Alva Free Church, later West United Free Church and West Church of Scotland
[edit | edit source]

Only a few adhered to the Free Church in Alva in 1843. Unsuccessful attempts were made to unite Alva with Tillicoultry. The charge was sanctioned in 1846. The church was built and opened in March 1848 and soon afterwards the manse was erected. The population increased with the development of trade, but later it somewhat diminished.
Membership: 1848, 63; 1900, 180.
Source: Annals of the Free Church of Scotland, 1843–1900, ed. Rev. William Ewing, D.D., 2 vols. pub. 1914.Family History Library. Film #918572. More details may be given in the source including a list of ministers.

Session Minutes 1844–1883
Deacons’ Court Minutes 1848–1871
Committee Minutes 1848–1851
Congregational Fund Cash Book1848–1866
Note: Available at the Stirling Council Archives, Stirling, Scotland, record CH3/13.

Civil Registration Records[edit | edit source]

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[edit | edit source]

Alva was under the probate jurisdiction of the Commissary Court of Ayr until 1823, and since then has been under the Sheriff's Court of Stirling. 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' of Stirling and the subject of 'Probate records.' Then click on the link to the records of the Commissariat of Ayr.

The library also has some post-1823 probate records for Stirling. Look in the library catalog for the 'Place' of Stirling and the subjects of 'Probate Records' and 'Probate Records - Indexes.'

Read more about Scotland Probate Records.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Lewis, Samuel A., A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland (1846), pp. 23-45. Adapted. Date accessed: 07 February 2014.

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