Cockburnspath, Berwickshire, Scotland Genealogy

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Parish #731

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

History[edit | edit source]

COCKBURNSPATH, with Old Cambus, a parish, in the county of Berwick, 8 miles (N. W.) from Press. This place was called anciently Colbrandspath, from Colbrand, a Danish chieftain who is said to have established himself in this part of the country, and subsequently Cockburnspath, from its having, at a very early period, been the baronial seat of the family of Cockburn. The parish is bounded on the north-east by the German Ocean. The church, a very ancient structure, with a round tower, and apparently built in the 12th century, was fully repaired in 1807, and reseated in 1826. There is a place of worship in the parish for members of the United Secession Synod.[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 record is a count and description of the population, taken by the government, arranged by locality and by household. Read more about census records.

Click here[low quality link] to see the FamilySearch Catalog entry for the 1841-1891 census records of Cockburnspath, as well as the catalog entry for the 1841,1851 and 1861 census surname indexes for Cockburnspath.  Other surname indexes will be found on the Berwickshire county page.

The 1841 through 1911 censuses of Scotland are indexed on To use it, you must register and pay a small access fee. You may then view the images of the census and print them. The 1841 through 1901 censuses of Scotland are also indexed on This is a membership fee-based website. Images are not available.

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]

Event Type Years Covered Family History Library Film Number
Births: 1642-1700, 1705-1820 1067867 item 4-5

1817-1854 1067868 item 1
Marriages: 1642-1699, 1709-1820 1067867 item 4-5

1820-1854 1067868 item 1

No entries

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: There is only one entry, 1705, from December 1700–November 1707.
Marriages: There are no entries May 1699–June 1709. The record following appears to be chiefly proclamations.
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:

Minutes 1844–1936
And other post-1855 records
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/68.

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

Cockburnspath, Stockbridge Associate Session Church[edit | edit source]

When a member of this parish heard a Secessionist minister preach about 1776, he requested and received supply of sermon for Cockburnspath. The group met first at Old Cambus and later moved to Woodend near the Pease Bridge. They built their own church in 1793. This group became United Presbyterian in 1847 and United Free Church of Scotland in 1900. In 1929, they rejoined the Church of Scotland.
Source: Annals and Statistics of the United Presbyterian Church, by Rev. William MacKelvie, D.D., pub. 1873. Film #477618. More details are given in the source.

FHL Film Number
Session Minutes 1795–1901 1482990
Seat Rent Books 1838–1864 1482990
Baptisms 1795–1937 1482991 item 1–2 X to 1861
Marriages 1795–1927 1482991 item 1–2 X to 1861
Note: The X means records have been extracted.
Managers’ Minutes with Accounts 1828–1871
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH3/57.

Cockburnspath and Oldhamstocks Free Church[edit | edit source]

When the minister of Cockburnspath left the Established Church in 1843, he was denied a place of worship. His congregation was finally able to build a church in Oldhamstocks. Meanwhile, the minister of its neighbor Oldhamstocks remained in the Established Church. They built a new church in Cockburnspath in 1890.
Membership: 1848, 170; 1900, 70.
Source: Annals of the Free Church of Scotland, 1843–1900, ed. Rev. William Ewing, D.D., 2 vols. pub. 1914. Film #918572. More details are given in the source.

                                                                            Family History Library Film Number
Register of Members’ Contributions    1851–1862     1482990

Association and Deacons’ Court Minutes 1843–1937
Cash Books 1843–1867
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH3/58.

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]

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

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

Read more aabout Scotland Probate Records.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Lewis, Samuel A., A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland (1846), pp. 200-218. Adapted. Date accessed: 28 March 2014.

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