Earlston, Berwickshire, Scotland Genealogy

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Parish #736

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

History[edit | edit source]

EARLSTON, a parish, in the county of Berwick; including the villages of Fans, Mellerstain, and Redpath, 4 miles (N. by E.) from Melrose. The name of this parish, anciently Ersildun or Ersildon, which appears to have been gradually changed into Earlstoun, is traced by some antiquaries to the Cambo-British word Arcwl-dun, signifying "the prospect hill," from a commanding eminence on the south of the village and church. It is, however, perhaps more correctly derived from the name Earl, with the common termination of don, ton, or town, on account of its having belonged to the earls of March, who were seated here from the 12th century till 1453. The church, built in 1736, and enlarged and thoroughly repaired in 1832, is situated in the village, nearly at one extremity of the parish; it formerly accommodated only 450 persons, but on account of its enlargement it is now capable of holding nearly 200 more. The members of the Free Church have a place of worship, and there are also meeting-houses for Antiburghers and the Relief body.[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 http://edina.ac.uk/stat-acc-scot/. 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 Earlston, as well as the catalog entry for the 1841,1851,1861 census surname indexes for Earlston.  Other surname indexes will be found on the Berwickshire county page.

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[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 FHL Film Number
Births: 1694-1854 1067895
Marriages: 1694-1719, 1784-1854 1067895
Deaths: 1784-1791 1067895
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: The pages are blank December 1695–October 1696, August 1724–August 1726, and, except irregular entries on two pages, March 1729–January 1735. After May 1776, there are nine entries of one family 1760–1775. Irregular entries occur occasionally after 1785.

Marriages: No entries exist December 1695–October 1696, September 1719–August 1784, and August 1791–January 1817.

Deaths: Burials

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 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:

Various Minutes 1691–1929

Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/118.

Minutes 1730–1789

Accounts 1736–1801, 1805–1930

Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/857.

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

Earlston, East General Associate Church[edit | edit source]


Several members of the Earlston parish left the Established Church in 1738 and adhered to the Associate Presbytery. After residents of Stitchel joined their congregation, they petitioned in 1746 to be formed into a separate group. This request was refused, but with the Burger Oath controversy, the majority of Earlston parish joined the General Associate, Anti-burgher Synod. In 17501751, the Earlston congregation was joined by members from Gattonside and Galashiels. Shortly after, they built a church and also built another in 1792. They united with the West Church in 1887.

Membership: 1834, more than 300 communicants.

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.


Marriages 1751–1752

Minutes 1751–1754, 1777, 1842–1886

Accounts 1777–1887

Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH3/828.

Earlston, West Relief Church[edit | edit source]


Members of Earlston parish who left the Established Church in 1778 obtained supply of sermon from the Relief Presbytery of Edinburgh and built a church the same year. This group became United Presbyterian in 1847 and united with the East Church in 1887.

Membership: 1834, less than 300 communicants.

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.


Managers’ and Congregational Minutes 1839–1887

Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH3/829. Post-1887 records are CH3/830.

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]

Earlston 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 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 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 about Scotland Probate Records.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Lewis, Samuel A., A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland (1846), pp. 349-361. Adapted. Date accessed: 28 March 2014.

Return to the Berwickshire Parish List.

[[Category:Berwickshire Parishes]