Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland Genealogy

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Parish #685-1

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

Edinburgh, Arthur's Seat

History[edit | edit source]

EDINBURGH, a city, the seat of a university, and the metropolis of the kingdom of Scotland, situated in longitude 3° 10' 30" (W.), and latitude 55° 57' 29" (N.), about a mile (S. by W.) from Leith, 40 miles (S.S.W.) from Dundee, 42 (E. by N.) from Glasgow, 44 (S. by E.) from Perth, 55 (W. by N.) from Berwick-upon-Tweed, 92½ (N. by W.) from Carlisle, 109 (S. W. by S.) from Aberdeen, 156 (S. by E.) from Inverness, 270 (N. E.) from Dublin, and 392 (N. N. W.) from London; including the suburban parishes of St. Cuthbert and Canongate. The see of Edinburgh, originally founded by Charles I. in 1633, and to which the ancient collegiate church of St. Giles was appropriated as the cathedral, continued till the Revolution, when the city contained only six parishes; it is now the seat of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland and of the presbytery of Edinburgh, and comprises seventeen civil parishes, besides which there were until recently twelve quoad sacra or ecclesiastical parishes. The parish of the High Church is wholly within the city, under the pastoral care of two ministers. The church is a portion of the cathedral of St. Giles. There are also places of worship in the city for members of the Free Church, United Secession, and Relief, for Reformed Presbyterians, Original Seceders, the Society of Friends, Baptists, Wesleyans, Independents, Jews, and Unitarians; an Episcopalian chapel, dedicated to St. Peter, and two Roman Catholic chapels.[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.

History of the Cannongate section of the city is available on Royal-Mile.com.

Scotlands People: An Important Online Source[edit | edit source]

ScotlandsPeople is one of the largest online sources of original genealogical information. If you are researching UK genealogy, your Scottish ancestry or building your Scottish family tree, they have more than 100 million records to look through.

The comprehensive choice of Scottish records includes:

  • Statutory Registers
  • Old Parish Registers
  • Catholic Parish Registers
  • CPR Others
  • Census
  • Valuation Rolls
  • Soldiers’ Wills
  • Wills & Testaments
  • Coats of Arms

For more detail on exact record availability, see Availability. For examples of the records available, see Record Types and Examples. More information on the site, its contents, and instructions for using it can be found in the ScotlandsPeople Wiki article. Indexes may be searched for free, and there is a small pay per view fee to see the actual digitized record.

Census Records[edit | edit source]

The library also has a collection of census surname indexes for different places within Midlothian Click here to see a table listing these other census surname indexes that are available at the library.

Church Records[edit | edit source]

The Established Church of Scotland was Presbyterian. Read more about church records.
From early times, Scotland became a Christian Country. However the type of Christianity practiced was much more rigorous than was practiced south of the border; Calvinism and Presbyterianism. In 1638, King Charles the First's attempt to introduce Anglican church forms in Scotland encountered stiff Presbyterian opposition culminating in the conflicts of the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. Subsequent Scottish support for Charles Stuart's restoration to the throne of England resulted in Edinburgh's occupation by Oliver Cromwell's Commonwealth of England forces – the New Model Army – in 1650. Today complete religious freedom is practiced albeit with still a large measure of Calvinism. The Church of Scotland claims the largest membership of any single religious denomination in Edinburgh as evidenced by a religion census of 2010.

Established Church—Old Parochial Registers[edit | edit source]

Pre-1855 records that exist for this parish: Go here to go to the FamilySearch Catalog entry for the Established Church records for the Edinburgh parishes, covering the years 1595-1854.

Known High Churches:

  • St Giles Cathedral
  • The Old Church (South aisle of St. Giles')
  • Tolbooth Parish
  • Trinity College Chapel
  • 1685 Lady Glenorchy Chapel
  • 1785 New North Church
  • Tron Church
  • 1673 Scottish Baptists, and Original Burghers.
  • Magdalene Chapel Cowgate
  • New Grey Friars
  • 1721 Old Grey Friars
  • 1722 St. Andrew
  • 1785 St George Episcopal Chapel
  • St. George - 1814
  • Lady Yester's Parish - 1647
  • St. Mary - 1824
  • St. Stephen - 1828
  • Canongate - 1688
  • St. Cuthbert - Gardner's-crescent
  • Chapel Morningside
  • Chapel Greenside Leith Walk
  • St. John

Bristo Church of Scotland

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: From December 1731–January 1759, the record has not been extended, but a draft or scroll record exists, in twelve volumes (18–29, inclusive), embracing the period January 1729–December 1758. Otherwise the register has been very carefully kept throughout. Except in entries of illegitimate births, mothers’ names are not recorded until January 1608. There are indexes to the record from 1759.
Marriages: There are no entries July 1694–January 1696. Prior to the former date, most of the entries contain merely the names of the parties and the trade or profession of the bridegroom. After January 1696, the name and designation of the bride’s father are usually recorded. March 1729–January 1759, the record is only in draft or scroll, in two volumes (47, 48). There is a copy of the portion January 1820–March 1821 and there are indexes to the record from January 1759.
Deaths: The records of the Greyfriars’ Burying Ground for 1658–1854 are in the custody of the recorder of the Ground. The records of Dean Cemetery for 1846–1854 are in the custody of the registrar of St. George’s District. [For the records of the Calton Burying Ground, 1719–1854, see the parish of South Leith in this binder.]
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:

Click here to see a list of the kirk session records for the various Edinburgh parishes.

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.

Click here to see a list of the pre-1855 nonconformist churches and their records for the various parishes

The following are post 1855 nonconformist Christian churches:

  • Carrubers Christian Center
  • Chinese Evangelical Church
  • Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
  • Greek Orthodox
  • Jehovah's Witness
  • Marthoma Congregation of Scotland
  • Methodists
  • Presbyterian
  • Roman Catholic
  • Seventh Day Adventist

Non Christian groups include:

  • Buddhist
  • Muslim
  • Sikh

Edinburgh Lothian Road Associate Congregation Church

Edinburgh Gaelic Church

Roslin Free Church

Cemetery Records[edit | edit source]

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.

National Records of Scotland
Ladywell House
Ladywell Rd
Edinburgh EH12 7TF, UK
Phone: +44 131 334 0380

Scottish Registrars Office - Edinburgh
Leith Library
28-30 Ferry Rd
Edinburgh EH6 4AE, UK
Phone: +44 131 529 5520

Directories[edit | edit source]

Courtesy of the National Library of Scotland, Post Office Directories are avilable online. The directories available for Portobello are: 1889-1895: These are available in either PDF format or viewable online.

Edinburgh: 1773-1912: These are available in either PDF format or viewable online. (Some years are missing)

Poorhouse Records

There are six poorhouses in Midlothian:

Local Histories[edit | edit source]

Probate Records[edit | edit source]

Edinburgh was under the probate jurisdiction of the Commissary Court of Edinburgh until 1823, and since then has been under the Sheriff's Court of Edinburgh. Probate records for 1513- 1901 are indexed online at www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk. 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 Midlothian and the subject of 'Probate records.' Then click on the link to the records of the Commissariat of Edinburgh.

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

Read more about Scotland Probate Records.

Maps[edit | edit source]

Newspapers[edit | edit source]

  • 1759-1760 - The Edinburgh Chronicle at Google News - free.
  • 1772-1829 - The Edinburgh Advertiser at Google News - free.
  • 1801-1808 - Edinburgh Weekly Journal at Google News - free.
  • 1867-1869 - The Edinburgh Evening Courant at Google News - free.
  • 1884 - Edinburgh Courant at Google News - free.

Current day newspapers:

Voting[edit | edit source]

Occupations[edit | edit source]

Edinburgh has the strongest economy of any city in the United Kingdom outside London and the highest percentage of professionals in the UK with 43% of the population holding a degree-level or professional qualification.

As the Capital of Scotland, a large part of the economy is made up of government services and bureaucracies. This has increased considerably since the close vote on exiting the United Kingdom in 2013. The Government in London made many concessions to keep Scotland in the Kingdom, and these added many economic and educational benefits for Scotland that the rest of the UK does not have. Obviously this has added a considerable number of positions in Government.[2]

In the 19th century, Edinburgh's economy was known for banking, publishing and brewing. Today, its economy is based mainly on financial services, scientific research, higher education, and tourism. Banking accounts for about 21,000 positions, Insurance and Pensions about 8,000 positions, and Asset Management and Servicing, close to 8,500 positions. The digital economy has increased tremendously in recent years, contributing about 17,500 jobs to the economy.[3]

Tourism is also an important element in the city's economy. As a World Heritage Site, tourists visit historical sites such as Edinburgh Castle, the Palace of Holyrood house and the Old and New Towns. Their numbers are augmented in August each year during the Edinburgh Festivals, which attracts 4.4 million visitors.

Societies[edit | edit source]

Archives[edit | edit source]

The National Records of Scotland
H.M. General Register House
2 Princes Street
Edinburgh, EH1 3YY

Websites[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Lewis, Samuel A., A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland (1846), pp. 361-392. Adapted. Date accessed: 11 April 2014.
  2. Wikipedia contributors,"Edinburgh" in "Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia", https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edinburgh, accessed 9 April 2017.
  3. Invest in Edinburgh,https://http://www.investinedinburgh.com/industry-strengths/financial-services/, accessed 10 April 2017.

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