Kilmuir, Inverness-shire, Scotland Genealogy

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Parish #112 

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

History[edit | edit source]

KILMUIR, a parish, in the Isle of Skye, county of Inverness, 18 miles (N. by W.) from Portree; containing nearly all of the quoad sacra parish of Steinscholl. This place, which forms the northern extremity of the Isle of Skye, is known to have derived its name from the dedication of its church to St. Mary. The church was built in 1810, and contains 700 sittings.[1]

Kilmuir is the most northern parish in the island of Skye. The name signifies the “Church of Mary”, and is derived from the Gaelic words Cill, a chapel, or burying-ground, and Muire, Mary. The parish originally consisted of a variety of Cills, [chapels] which were dedicated to their respective tutelary saints, such as Kileana, Kilmartin, Kilmorie, Kildorais, Kilmalaugh, Kilvaxter, Kilbride, to each of which was attached a portion or district of the parish.  These cills are now in ruins.

The original inhabitants of this and the surrounding isles, were a mixture of the ancient Caledonians or Picts, and the Albanaich, or first settlers, in what is now known as the kingdom of Scotland. The language of the inhabitants is purely Celtic.

The Highland breed of cattle is universally reared, as are some sheep. In 1736 the population of the parish was 1230. In 1791 it was 2060, and in 1837 it was 4011.  

In this and other parishes of the Hebrides the names of hamlets, hills, bays, and promontories are of Scandinavian origin, due to the area having been conquered by Vikings in very early times.  There are the ruins of several Danish forts within the parish. There is also the ruins of the castle of Duntlum, the ancient residence of the family of Macdonald, the most famous of whom was Flora MacDonald, the young maid who helped to conduct the unfortunate Bonnie Prince Charlie to safety, disguised as a maid-servant. 

Kilmuir was formerly famous for its pipers; but they are now extinct. The leading performers and teachers of this ancient and martial music were the MacArthurs. A little green hill in close vicinity to Piengowen, called Cnoc-phail, was the general rendezvous of the MacArthurs and their pupils. To the top of this hill they went daily to practice their tunes.

This account was written November 1840.

'Source: New Statistical Account of Scotland for Kilmuir,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 Kilmuir, as well as the library numbers for any surname indexes available:

Family History Librarry Film Number
Surname Indexes
6344852 (3 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

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
0990671 item 2
0990671 item 2
No entries


Condition of Original Registers—

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
No entries prior to 1823. If there were any registers previous to that date, they were either lost or destroyed. No further notes.
Source: Key to the Parochial Registers of Scotland, by V. Ben Bloxham, pub. 1970. British Book 941 K23b.

Established Church—Kirk Session Records
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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 1851–1923
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/867.

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.

Kilmuir and Staffin Free Church

The people who formed the Free Church congregation here were the fruit of a revival movement, which began at Kilmuir about 1812. They separated from the Established Church and ultimately in a body joined the Free Church. For about twenty years after the Disruption services were held for them by probationers and catechists. Church and manse were erected, and a minister was settled in Kilmuir 1864. The people of Eastside had to worship on the hillside until 1875, when a church was erected there. The population of this purely crofting parish numbered over 2000, the great body of them adhering to the Free Church.
Membership: 1866, 500; 1900, 165.
Source: Annals of the Free Church of Scotland, 1943–1900, ed. Rev. William Ewing, D.D., 2 Vols. Pub. 1914. Film #918572. More details may be given in the source, including a list of ministers.

The extent of records is unknown.

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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Kilmuir 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 Inveress.

The library also has some post-1823 probate records for Inverness-shire. 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.

Return to Inverness-shire parish list.