New Spynie, Moray, Scotland Genealogy

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Parish #136

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

History[edit | edit source]

SPYNIE, NEW, a parish, in the county of Elgin, 2½ miles (W. by N.) from Elgin; containing the village of Bishopmill. This place derived its name from Loch Spynie, originally an arm of the sea three miles in length and one mile in breadth, but which, by the receding of the waters, has become inclosed. Its distinguishing adjunct, New, arose from the desertion of its ancient church, which was situated at the eastern extremity of the parish, and the erection of the present structure, in 1736, on a more centrical and commodious site. The church, situated on the hill of Quarrywood, was erected in 1736, and is a neat substantial structure containing 400 sittings.[1]

Spynie, the ancient name of this parish, is derived from the Loch known by that name, which, before it was drained, bounded the parish along it north side. The parish is bounded on the south by the river Lossie, excepting a fine field of about 50 acres called Burrough-bridge. It is bounded on the west by the parish of Alves; on the east by the parish of St. Andrews; and on the north by the parishes of Duffus and Drainie, or in other words, by the ground anciently covered by the loch of Spynie.

There is only one village in the parish, that of Bishopmill. It is almost close to Elgin, the market-town, and by the late Reform Act is included in that burgh.

The only land-owners are the Crown, the Earl of Fife, the Trustees of the late Earl of Fife, the Earl of Seafield, Mr. Sellar of Westfield, and the Heirs of the late Colonel Grant of Findrassie.

The palace of Spynie, the ancient residence of the Bishops of Moray, is situated in the eastern extremity of the parish, on the south bank of the ancient lake where the water had been deepest. The palace had been a magnificent and spacious building, and now the ruins are in a very dilapidated state and so rent, as to be incapable of repair.

There is, near the summit of Quarrywood-hill, a free-stone quarry, very hard and durable, which supplies a large extent of country with mill-stones, and the town of Elgin and neighborhood with stone for building.

The population in 1801 was 843 persons, and by 1831 there were 1121 inhabitants. The population has evidently been increased by the building of the village of Bishopmill, which contains 621 inhabitants; while the rest of the parish contains only 500.

There are now few sheep in the parish, the former pasture for them being either planted with wood, or cultivated and brought into tillage. The most approved breeds of cattle have been gradually introduced by some of the farmers; and much attention paid to their improvement.

The church and manse were originally most pleasantly situated at the eastern extremity of the parish, in the vicinity of the Bishop’s Palace; but in the year 1736, they were removed to Quarrywood, a more centrical, though much more bleak situation, nearly under the highest part of the north side of the hill. The church affords accommodation for about 400 persons, and all the sittings are free.

There is no Dissenting or Seceding chapel in the parish; but about 36 persons, chiefly inhabitants of Bishopmill, are Dissenters, and 10 of them Episcopalians. There are no Roman Catholics in the parish. Divine service at the Established Church is generally well attended, and the average number of communicants is about 100.

The earliest entry in the parochial register of baptism was made in 1708; and since that period the register has been pretty regularly kept.

This account was written October 1835.
Source:  The New Statistical Account of Scotland for New Spynie, FHL book 941 B4sa, 2nd series, vol. 13

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.

Myreside.  A brief history of Myreside and a short list of some of the inhabitants, illustrated with a hand drawn map of the estate for 1788. Article covers years 1565-1825, Article in The Land and People of Moray. Family History Library Ref.941.23 H2b pt.2. 2001, pages 36-38.

History of the Parish of Spynie.  This is a brief background history of the parish of Spynie. A hand-drawn map is included of Elgin, Spynie and surrounding areas for early seventeenth century, covers years 1208-1861. Article in The Land and People of Moray pt. 2 2001, pages 1-8, Family History Library Ref. 941.23 H2 H2b pt.2.  and another one in pt.3. 2001. pages 1-8, Another article is The 'Toun' of Spynie, A brief history of the town or village of Spynie and map of the estate in 1788. pages 39-50, pt 2, 2001.

The Loch of Spynie. A brief description of the Loch of Spynie over the years, illustrated with hand drawn maps of the Loch, 500 BC, 800AD, 1100AD, 1480 AD, 1560 AD, 1783 AD and 1850 AD. Article in The Lands and People of Moray. 941.23 H2b pt. 11, 2003 pages 1-11.

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.

Here is a list of the Family History Library microfilm numbers for the census records of New Spynie, as well as the library numbers for any surname indexes available:

FHL Film Number
Surname Indexes
6086568 (2 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.

Aldroughty. History of the estate of Aldroughty including list of pre-census inhabitants, and hand drawn map of Aldroughty and Scroggiermill. Covers years 1393-1928 - article in The Lands and people of Moray. pt 2, year 2001 pages 9-13, Family History Ref. 941.23 H2b pt.2

Bishopmill. Sometimes known as Frankoklaw. List of rentals for 1774 Directory for Bishopmill 1852. Maps 1783,1822 &1838. Article covers years 1187-1839. The Lands and People of Moray. pt.3. year 2001. pages 31-48. 941.23 H2b

Borough Briggs. Covers years 1570-1740 in the above named and numbered journal. pages 27-30

Findrassie. A brief history of Findrassie and a pre-census listing of some of the inhabitants illustrated with a had drawn map of the Findrassie Estate for 1785 and a pedigree chart for the Leslies of Findrassie. covers years 1226-1884, Article in The Land and People of Moray. pt. 2. 2001. pages 30-35. Family History Library Ref. 941.23 H2 H2b pt2

Quarrywood, Rosehaugh and Kintrae. A brief history of Quarrywood, and a pre-census list of some of the inhabitants of the area, illustrated with hand-drawn maps of the village of Quarrywood for the late 19th Century and the estate of Quarrywood about 1780. Article covers years 1162-1852, Article in The Land and People of Moray. pts. 2001. pages 18-29, Family History Library Ref. 941.23 H2 H2b pt 2.

Westfield. A brief history of Westfield and a pre-census list of some of the inhabitants, illustrated with hand-drawn maps for 1650,1790 and late 19th century. Article covers years 1240-1833. Article in The Land and People of Moray, vol. pt. 2. 2001 pages 9-17, Family History Library Ref. 941.23 H2 H2b pt 2.

Morriston. A brief history of the estate of Morriston with a list of some of the pre-census inhabitants, illustrated with a hand-drawn map of Morriston early 19th century. Article covers years 1309-1820. To be found in The Lands and People of Moray part 3, 2001. pages 20-26. Family History Library Ref. 941.23 H2b pt 3.

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]

Record Type
Years Covered
FHL Film Number
No entries

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 of these records may be indexed and searchable on

Births: Pages 1 to 14 of the birth record, which probably began in 1708, are now lost. One page at July 1719 and five pages after November 1724 were partially destroyed. From the year 1733, the pages are generally super-scribed by the minister and subscribed by the session clerk. Numerous entries dated 1779 downwards occur in the record 1799–1819.
Marriages: No marriage entries exist for December 1717–April 1724, only three exist for November 1750–July 1753, and none exist for May 1756– July 1766, July 1769–August 1774, and December 1776–February 1792. Pages attested from 1733.
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 1721–1818, 1846–1958
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/746.

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.

There are no known nonconformist groups.

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.

Land and Property[edit | edit source]

Probate Records[edit | edit source]

New Spynie was under the probate jurisdiction of the Commissary Court of Moray until 1823, and since then has been under the Sheriff's Court of Elgin. 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 Moray and the subject of 'Probate records.' Then click on the link to the records of the Commissariat of Moray.
The library also has some post-1823 probate records for Moray. Look in the library catalog for the 'Place-names' of Moray 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: 27 June 2014.

Return to Moray parish list.