Golspie, Sutherland, Scotland Genealogy

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Parish # 51

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

History[edit | edit source]

GOLSPIE, a parish, in the county of Sutherland, 8 miles (N. N. E.) from Dornoch; containing the village of Bachies. This place, anciently called Culmallie, and of which the present name is of doubtful etymology, formed part of the ample territories of the thanes of Sutherland. The church, erected in 1738, and enlarged in 1751, is a neat structure, situated in the village, close to the sea-shore, and containing 565 sittings.[1]

The name of this parish is, in the Gaelic language, pronounced Goishbee. Situated in the maritime parts of the Highlands, the parish has, like many other places, and in all probability, received its name from the ancient northern invaders, who for a time were possessors of these parts. The ancient name of the parish was Culmallie, denoting that the church or chapel had been dedicated to some tutelary saint. The parish is bounded on the north by the parishes of Rogart and Clyne; on the east by the latter and the Moray Frith; on the south by that firth; and on the west by the small inlet, which bears the name of Little Ferry, and the stream called Fleet.

In this parish there is, strictly speaking, no town, and the nearest market-town is Tain, a distance of about twenty miles. There is however a village, bearing the name of the parish.

Like other maritime parishes in the Highlands, Golspie appears to have, in ancient times, been invaded, and possessed, for a period, by foreign northern nations. By far the most prominent and interesting part of its history relates to the eminent characters that have been connected with it.

Her Grace the Duchess of Sutherland, who, with the other members of her family, often reside in this parish. The thanes of Sutherland first received the title of earls from Malcolm Canmore, King of Scotland, A.D. 1031. Her Grace Elizabeth, the present Countess, is the twenty-third representative of this ancient family, and a lineal descendant of Robert the Bruce, King of Scotland.
The family of Kilcalmkill is a very old family of this parish. This family derives its descent from Adam Gordon, Dean of Caithness. Also among these eminent persons connected with this parish, by birth, is Sir Hector Munro of Novar who was born at Clayside in 1727.

The Duke and Duchess Countess of Sutherland are the sole owners of the land in the parish; and by the late purchase of the Reay country, they have become owners of nearly the whole county.

Since the census in 1821, there is an increase in the population up upwards of a hundred; which has been occasioned by the increased comforts of the working-classes, arising from employment on the large farms, and in the various works, such as buildings and roads, carried on in the county.

The earliest entry in the parochial register here is 29th December 1789. The register is at present regularly and carefully kept.
The parish church is situated about in the middle of the parish, and so near the sea, that the glebe only intervenes. The situation is convenient for the parishioners; the village, which contains from a third to a half of the population, being in its immediate vicinity.

This account was written March 1833, and revised September 1834.

Source: New statistical Account of Scotland for Golspie, Family History Llibrary book 941 B4sa, series 2, vol. 15.

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 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 Golspie as well as the library numbers for any surname indexes available:

Family History Library Film Number
Surname Indexes
6086688 (1fiche)

The 1901 census of Scotland is indexed on www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk. 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: 1739-1854 0990563 Item 1
Marriages: 1744-1853 0990563 Item 1
Deaths: No entries none


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: Registers are incomplete 1756–1785. Families are occasionally recorded in groups after 1776. There is a duplicate of entries in volume 1 to February 1817.
Marriages: There are no entries May 1799–January 1807 and May 1807–August 1810, seven entries after 1815 and no record 1817–1825.
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 1731–1756, 1776
Contributions for Support of Government 1798
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/615.

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.

Golspie United Free Church[edit | edit source]

At the Disruption the people adhering to the Free Church in the parish were put under the care of two neighboring ministers. They worshiped in a chapel belonging to Abbey Close congregation, Paisley, which was made over to the Free Church. The charge was sanctioned in 1845, when a church was in course of erection.
Membership: 1855, 500; 1900, 370.
Source: Annals of the Free Church of Scotland, 1843–1900, ed. Rev. William Ewing, D.D., pub. 1914. Film #918572. More details may be given in the source, including ministers.

No known pre–1855 records.

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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Golspie was under the probate jurisdiction of the Commissary Court of Caithness until 1823, and since then has been under the Sheriff's Court of Dornoch. 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 Sutherland and the subject of 'Probate records.' Then click on the link to the records of the Commissariat of Caithness.
The library also has some post-1823 probate records for Sutherland. Look in the library catalog for the 'Place-names' of Sutherland 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: 7 August 2014.

Return to Sutherland parish list.