North Uist, Inverness-shire, Scotland Genealogy

From FamilySearch Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Parish #113

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

History[edit | edit source]

UIST, NORTH, an island and parish, in the county of Inverness; containing the islands of Balishear, Boreray, Grimsay, Heisker, Illary, Kirkibbost, Vorgay, Orinsay, Ronay, and Vallay. This place, which is included in the Hebrides, or Western Islands, is supposed to have derived its name from its situation to the west of the Isle of Skye. The church, erected in 1764, is a plain structure containing 400 sittings. A church was erected by government, in 1828, at Trumisgarry.[1]

"The term Uist may be distinctly traced to the word Vist, which the Danes and other northern nations are said to use, signifying the west. North Uist lies nearly in the middle of the range of islands from the But, or northern-most point of the Lewis to Barra Head, the southern-most part.

"The language spoken is the Gaelic, which the people speak with uncommon fluency and elegance. The people are remarkable cleanly in their habits. The men dress in kelt or cloth of native manufacture; and the women are seen to most advantage in beautiful strips and tartans of their own manufacture.

"The ordinary food is potatoes and barley-bread, which are almost exclusively used among the poorer class. The small tenants of a better class use in addition, some milk in summer, and mutton and beef in winter.

"In some of the burying grounds, particularly in the island of Husker, are found several crosses rudely cut on stone. Also in the parish are found two stones or obelisks of large size. There is also a ruin of large dimensions and two caves of note.

"Every farm and hamlet possessed its oral recorder of tale and song. The pastoral habits of the inhabitants led them to seek recreation in listening to and in rehearsing the tales of other times; and the senachie and the bard were held in high esteem.

"Grains of every description are raised, and black-cattle and sheep of small, indigenous breeds are raised.  The breed of black-cattle has been immensely improved by the introduction of superior Highland cattle and bulls from various quarters."

The population in 1801 was 3019 and in 1831 was 4603.

The above account was written in 1837.

Source: The New Statistical Account of Scotland, for North Uist, FHL 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 for the parish you are interested in. 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. 

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

Year FHL Film Number Surname Indexes
1042641 none
1851 1042098 6344852 (3 fiche)
1861 103837 none
1871 104001 none
1881 203427 6086593 (4 fiche)
1891 208643 none

The 1901 and 1911 censuses of Scotland are indexed on scotlandspeople.($) To use them, you must register and pay a small access fee. All available censuses, 1841-1911, are indexed on this website. They are also indexed on, accessible for a fee, although the 1911 census does not appear there.

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
Births: 1821-1854 0990671 item 3
Marriages: 1821-1854 0990671 item 3
Deaths: No entries none

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 record exists prior to 1821, and even then events from the more remote districts of the parish were irregularly recorded.
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:

None available

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. 

North Uist Free Church[edit | edit source]

"Norman MacLeod, minister of Trumisgarry Parliamentary Church, in the parish of North Uist, came out [of the Established Church] in 1843, and for some years had charge of almost the whole of the long island, the remainder being served by a catechist. The charge was sanctioned in 1849. North Uist and Trumisgarry were united in one charge in 1854. Church and manse were erected in 1858, and the mission house at Sollas in 1893."
Membership: 1859, 400; 1900, 64.
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.

No known pre-1855 records.

Carinish Free Church[edit | edit source]

"Carinish was combined with North Uist when the latter charge was sanctioned in 1849. In 1854 it was disjoined from North Uist, and united in one charge with Benbecula and Lochmaddy. It was sanctioned as a separate charge in 1869. The parish is much broken up by arms of the sea. It includes Lochmaddy and the Island of Grimsay. The population, mostly crofters, in 1855 numbered 1512, of which 674 adhered to the Free Church. Church and manse were built at Cinchan in 1890, and a mission hall and missionary dwellings at Lochmaddy about 1891."
Membership: 1866, 300; 1900, 56.
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 list of ministers.

The extent of records is unknown.

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]

North Uist was under the probate jurisdiction of the Commissary Court of The Isles 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 The Isles.

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.

Estate Records[edit | edit source]

The land on North Uist was for centuries the property of the Clan MacDonald, and records of those who rented crofts from them are available to consult at the Clan Donald Centre on the Isle of Skye.  These records are a major source used by Bill Lawson when compiling his detailed North Uist Croft Histories (see below in Further Resources), an extremely valuable resource for tracing North Uist families.

Further Resources[edit | edit source]

  • Lawson, Bill.  Croft history: Isle of North Uist.  5 vols.  Northton, Isle of Harris [Scotland]: Bill Lawson Publications, c1991.  Family History Library book 941.21/N1 R2L.
  • Lawson, Bill.  North Uist in history and legend.  Edinburgh: John Donald Publishers, 2004. ISBN 0-85976-595-4.

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.