Linlithgow, West Lothian, Scotland Genealogy

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Parish #668

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

History[edit | edit source]

LINLITHGOW, a royal burgh, a parish, and the seat of a presbytery, in the county of Linlithgow, of which it is the principal town; containing part of the village of Linlithgow-Bridge, 8 miles (E. S. E.) from Falkirk, and 16 (W.) from Edinburgh. This place derives its name, signifying in the Saxon language "the lake of the sheltered valley," from the beautiful expanse of water on which it is situated, in a secluded and richly fertile vale. The town is beautifully situated on the south bank of the lake from which it takes its name. The parish is bounded on the west by the river Avon. The church, supposed to have been founded by David I., as the chapel-royal, and dedicated to St. Michael, is an ancient and venerable structure in the early English style of architecture, with a square embattled tower formerly surmounted by a turret in the form of an imperial crown. It was repaired and enlarged in 1813, and now contains 1100 sittings. There are also a Free Church, two places of worship for members of the United Secession, and one for Independents.[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 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 Linlithgow, as well as the catalog entry for the 1881 surname indexes .

The 1901 and 1911 census of Scotland is indexed on To use it, you must register and pay a small access fee. All available censuses, 1841-1911, 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 Scotland 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; 1613-1674 1066631

1674-1799 1066632

1799-1820 1066633

1820-1854 1066635
Marriages: 1673-1683, 1687-1819 1066633

1820-1854 1066635
Deaths: 1652-1699 - mortcloth Dues 1066633

1708-1742 - burials 1066633

1699-1785 - accounts 1066634

1785-1825 - accounts 106634
Condition of Original Registers—[edit | edit source]

Indexed: 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 are no entries for December 1642–August 1647 except eight for February 1644. There are no entries for November 1647–November 1649. There is one entry for August 1650–August 1651 and one for December 1651–May 1653. After December 1655, however, there is a separate record for November 1651–July 1660. Most of the entries are different from those in the principal register. A half page at May 1796 is pasted over and entries are pasted over on several pages for 1800–1806. Nine entries for 1797–1808 are inserted at September 1807. Mothers' names are not recorded until July 1633 and are again omitted January 1688–July 1691.
Marriages: The entries are actually proclamations. There are no entries for December 1719–May 1730. The fact of marriage is sometimes added to the entries, and after 1760 entries of irregular marriages occur frequently.
Deaths: The record is mostly all treasurers' accounts.
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:

Minutes 1646–1660, 1666–1682, 1690–1968.
Testimonials 1645–1647.
Scroll Minutes 1753–1758.
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/740.

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.

Craigmailen Associate Presbyterian Congregation[edit | edit source]

This congregation originated with a number of praying societies in the surrounding district, which had existed from the times of the Solemn League and Covenant. Fifteen elders and 122 private members withdrew from the Established Church and formally joined the Associate Presbytery in October 1738. The Correspondence of West Lothian, as the congregation was named, embraced a wide extent of country. In May 1740 a number of persons resident in and about Linlithgow joined the congregation. Eventually there was a four–fold division of the congregation.
Source: Annals and Statistics of the United Presbyterian Church, by Rev. William MacKelvie, D.D., pub. 1873. FHL Film #0477618. More details are given in the source.

The extent of records is unknown.

West Church First Associate Burgher Congregation
[edit | edit source]

At the Breach in 1747, a portion of the seceders residing in Linlithgow adhered to the Associate Burgher Synod while the majority of the congregation of Craigmailen adhered to the General Associate Anti-burgher Synod. A large secession of the parishioners of Torphichen from the Established Church took place soon after. The Associate Burgher seceders attended public ordinances at Torphichen until 1770 when they were formed into a separate congregation.
Source: Annals and Statistics of the United Presbyterian Church, by Rev. William MacKelvie, D.D., pub. 1873. FHL Film #0477618. More details are given in the source.

Managers' Minutes 1772–1834
Communion Roll 1839–1859
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH3/754.

East General Associate Anti-burgher Church
[edit | edit source]

In 1805, those worshipping at Craigmailen made the decision to abandon their old church and build a new in Linlithgow, and thus the congregation moved there.
Source: Annals and Statistics of the United Presbyterian Church, by Rev. William MacKelvie, D.D., pub. 1873. FHL Film #0477618. More details are given in the source.

Communion Roll 1834–1867
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH3/755.

Linlithgow Free Church[edit | edit source]

This congregation was organized in 1843. The population was diminished through loss of the boot and shoe contract for the army and navy about 1880, and later through the collapse of the Linlithgow Oil Company.
Membership: 1848, 132; 1900, 373.
Source: Annals of the Free Church of Scotland, 1843–1900, ed. Rev. William Ewing, D.D., 2 vols. pub. 1914. FHL Film #0918572. More details are given in the source.

Various Minutes 1843–1900
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH3/756.

Linlithgow Congregational Church[edit | edit source]

A cause began here in 1800. A preacher was settled, and a chapel was opened for worship in April 1806. A small church of 16 members was formed in July 1807. The fellowship grew slowly and suffered much from the removal of members to other parts. The church ceased in 1883, but a new church was formed in 1887 and joined the Evangelical Union the following year. The church ceased in 1940.
Source:A History of Scottish Congregationalism, by Harry Escott, Glasgow, 1960. FHL British Book 941 K2se, page 294–5. More details are given in the source.

The extent of records is unknown. For availability of records write to:
The United Reformed Church, Scottish Synod Office
P.O. Box 189
240 Cathedral Street
Glasgow G1 2BX

Linlithgow Roman Catholic Church
[edit | edit source]

A congregation was formed in 1850. A church was built and consecrated to St. Joseph in 1878.

Baptisms 1851 1857
Marriages 1851 1857
Note: Available online for a fee, at,  Edinburgh, record MP/94.

Linlithgow and Oakley Branch, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter–day Saints[edit | edit source]

                                                   FHL Film Number
Record of Members   1847–1850     0104154 item 18

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]

Linlithgow was under the probate jurisdiction of the Commissary Court of Edinburgh until 1823, and since then has been under the Sheriff's Court of Linlithgow. 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 West Lothian 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 West Lothian. Look in the library catalog for the 'Place-names' of Lothian 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. 175-197. Adapted. Date accessed: 17 April 2014.

Return to the West Lothian parish list.