Boleskine, Inverness-shire, Scotland Genealogy

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Parish #92 (including Fort Augustus and Abertarff) 

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

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BOLESKINE and ABERTARFF, a parish, in the county of Inverness; containing the village and post-town of Fort-Augustus, 131 miles (N. W.) from Edinburgh. The name of Boleskine has usually been traced to the Gaelic term Bail-os-cionn, which signifies "the town hanging above the loch" (Loch Ness). Another derivation, however, has been assigned to it, by which it is identified with the compound term Boile-eas-ceann; ceann signifying "height" or "summit," eas a "cataract," and boile "fury," which, taken together, would mean "the summit of the furious cascade," viz., the fall of Foyers. The church, conveniently situated for the bulk of the population, was built in 1777, and seats 428 persons.[1]

Abertarff had been joined to the parish in Glenmoriston. In very early times it was disjoined from Glenmoriston and joined to the parish of Boleskine. Boleskine has a seven mile long hill intervening between the two parishes and often impassible in the winter. The name Abertarff comes from two rivulets that fall into Loch Ness a few yards from each other. Boleskine is derived from Gaelic meaning the town hanging above Loch Ness.  The land is used largely for raising sheep.

There were two places of worship for the Established church in the parish. The parish church and the other at Fort-Augustus. Average attendance used to be 280 but by 1831 that number had declined. There were 318 Papists in the parish meeting in a farm farthest wet in the parish adjoining Glengarry Parish. There were no Dissenters or Seceders identified in the parish.

This account was written in 1835.

Source:  New Statistical Account of Scotland for Boleskine, Family History Library 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 edina.($)  Click on ‘Browse scanned pages’ then search the parish you are interested in. Also available at the Family History Library

Census Records
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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 Boleskine, as well as the library numbers for any surname indexes available:

Family History Library Film Number
Surname Indexes
6344852 (3 fiche)
0103833 (vault)
6086593 (4 fiche)

The 1901 census of Scotland is indexed on scotlandspeople.($) 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
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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: 1737-1854 0990663
Marriages: 1759-1854 0990663
Deaths: No entries none


Condition of Original Registers—
"In Abertarff an incomplete register of baptisms had been kept since January 1737 and marriages from November 1739 by resident missionary ministers at Fort Augustus. Neglect with the appointment of replacement missionaries resulted in a laps of ten years in the records. Also some records were lost when the bearer was passing a stream. There are no records for Boleskine prior to 1798. Records for Boleskine and Abertarff were combined about the first of January each year." (Source: New Statistical Account of Scotland, dated 1835; Family History Library book 941 B4sa, series 2, vol. 14.)

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 of these records may be indexed and searchable on

Births: Boleskine births have only one entry April 1781–April 1784. Many irregular entries after 1792, the earliest being dated 1764 and the latest for 1854, among which there are seven entries of marriages for 1789–1821.
Fort Augustus birth records commence January 1760, entries prior to that date, 15 of them, are irregular. After 1813, there are fifteen irregular entries for 1815–1830; three entries 1762–1769 and one for 1786.
Marriages: Boleskine marriage records have one entry for 1804 and two for 1813.
Fort Augustus has no marriage entries January 1761–June 1765 and September 1771–February 1773. There is only one entry for each of the following periods of time; June 1779–April 1782, August 1790–March 1793, and January 1794–May 1797 and there are three entries for November 1798–November 1803. No entries for 1804, 1810, and 1811.
Source:  Key to the Parochial Registers of Scotland, by V. Ben Bloxham, pub. 1970. British Book 941 K23b.

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

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:

Joined with Abertarff 1688–1883
Minutes 1801–1857
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/792.

Other: School Minutes 1811–1835
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/1433.

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.

Free Church in the Village of Fort Augustus[edit | edit source]

Practically all the people here joined the Free Church in 1843. A minister was settled in 1844. The same year the church was erected. It was rebuilt in 1871.
Membership:  1848; 61.
Source:  Annals of the Free Church of Scotland, 1843-1900, ed. Rev. William Ewing, D.D., 2 vols. pub. 1914. Family History Llibrary Film #918572.

No known pre-1855 records.

Fort Augustus and Glenmoriston Free Church
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To Mr Lauder of Glengarry, the only missionary in the extensive district of Glenmoriston who adhered to the Free Church in 1843 was entrusted the work of organising the Free Church congregation. A site was granted at Fort Augustus by the proprietor of Albertarn where church and manse were erected. The charge was sanctioned in 1844. Services were held alternately at Fort Augustus and Glenmoriston.
Source:  Annals of the Free Church of Scotland, 1843–1900, ed. Rev. William Ewing, D.D., 2 vol., pub. 1914. Family History Library Film #918572. More details may be given in the source.

No known pre-1855 records.

Fort Augustus Catholic Church
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In 1760 the joint parish of Boleskine and Abertarff, which included Fort Augustus, had 250 Catholics and 650 Protestants. In 1763 the whole Lochaber mission was said to have 3000 communicants. St. Peter's church in Fort Augustus dates from 1844. It was previously part of the Glengarry church. St. Peters was closed in 1888. They are now served by St. Benedict's Monastery, Fort Augustus.
Source:  Catholic Missions and Register, 1700–1880, Volume 6, Scotland, by Michael Gandy, pub. 1993.  FHL Ref. Book 942 K24gm, vol. 6.

Ft. Augustus Baptisms 1842–1894
Ft. Augustus Marriages 1842–1871
Note: Available online for a fee, at scotlandspeople,($) Edinburgh, record RH21/24.

See also Bunroy under Kilmonivaig parish.

Civil Registration Records
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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
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Boleskine was under the probate jurisdiction of the Commissary Court of Inverness until 1823, and since then has been under the Sheriff's Court of Inverness. Probate records for 1513- 1901 are indexed online at scotlandspeople.($) 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 Inverness-shire and the subject of 'Probate records.' Then click on the link to the records of the Commissariat of Inverness

The library also has some post-1823 probate records for Inverness-shie. Look in the library catalog for the 'Place-names' of Inverness-shire 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. 499-514. Adapted. Date accessed: 3 July 2014.

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