Orwell, Kinross-shire, Scotland Genealogy

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Parish #463 

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

History[edit | edit source]

ORWELL, a parish, in the county of Kinross, 2 miles (N. N. E.) from Kinross; containing the villages of Middleton and Milnathort. This place derives its name, of Gaelic origin, from an estate so called on the banks of Loch Leven; and the term is supposed to be descriptive of the parish as situated in a green or fertile retreat. The church, erected in 1729, is an exceedingly plain cruciform edifice, but conveniently situated, standing on a knoll above the village of Milnathort; it is adapted for a congregation of 646 persons. There is a place of worship for the United Associate Synod: a chapel, which formerly belonged to the Original Burghers, is now a chapel of ease to the Established Church.[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 http://edina.ac.uk/stat-acc-scot/. Click on ‘Browse scanned pages’ then search the parish reports for Orwell. 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 Scotland Census Records.

Click here[low quality link] for a list of the Family History Library microfilm numbers for the census records of Orwell.

Below is information for any known surname indexes:

Year Surname Index
1841     http://member.melbpc.org.au/~andes/scotland
1851 941.34 X22k, 2 vols.; 6203965 (set of 2 fiche)
1861 None
1871 None
1881 fiche 6086604
1891 None

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 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]

Record Type Years Covered FHL Film Number
Births: 1688-1854 1040204 item 1
Marriages: 1693-1793 1040204 item 1
Deaths: 1783-1785 1040204 item 1

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: The record is very defective for July 1736–February 1767. Except in the case of irregular entries, mother's names are not recorded until 1777. Entries are out of date order after 1790, and after 1819 there are eight pages of omitted entries dated 1742–1783. There is also a record of births of children of Seceders, 1739–1766.
Marriages: Prior to 1597 they are recorded among births for same period. A separate record starts June 1697. The record is blank July 1736–October 1783. The record terminates January 1793.
Deaths: Burials

Source: Key to the Parochial Registers of Scotland, by V. Ben Bloxham, pub. 1970. British Book 941 K23b.

Note: The New Statistical Account of Scotland for Orwell (1839) states: “The parish register is not large, owing to a great disinclination on the part of the people to register either births or deaths. Many of the inhabitants never make any registration either of births or deaths, and several people have died in the parish that are buried and registered elsewhere.”

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 and Accounts 1681–1682, 1691–1737, 1743–1798
Minutes 1801–1809, 1816–1908
Accounts 1791–1865
Marriages 1783–1793 - copy
Heritors Minutes 1787–1788 - incomplete
Baptisms 1855–1875
Communion Rolls 1843–1877
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/551.

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 Lists.

Orwell Milnathort First Associate Session Old Light Burgher, later Free Church[edit | edit source]

The minister of Orwell parish and his parishioners seceded from the Established Church in 1737 and joined the Associate Presbytery. Being increased by seceders from Kinross and Portmoak, the congregation at one time numbered 2000 members, but the Presbytery was reluctant to divide them into separate congregations. At the Breach in 1747, the majority adhered to the General Associate Anti-burgher Synod. The minister disagreed with the Synod on some principals and was suspended in 1755 but he continued to preach to his congregation. After his death in 1768, the congregation was received, upon application, into connection with the Associate Burgher Synod. In 1799, the majority of the congregation, and the minister, separated from the Associate Synod and adhered to the Original Associate, Old Light Burgher Synod. The congregation rejoined the Established Church in 1839. Then at the Disruption in 1843, they joined the Free Church. In 1845 the Presbytery resolved that the church should bear the name of the parish Orwell, not that of the village Milnathort.
Membership: 1837, 472; average attendance 300.
Sources: Annals of the Free Church of Scotland, 1843–1900, ed. Rev. William Ewing, D.D., 2 vols. pub. 1914. FHL Film #918572 and Annals and Statistics of the United Presbyterian Church, by Rev.William MacKelvie, D.D., pub. 1873. FHL Film #477618. More details may be given in the sources including a list of ministers.

Records—                                         FHL Film Number
Manager Minutes 1748–1778               1886233 items 3-6
Minutes 1801–1892                             1886233 items 3-6
Manager's Minutes 1771–1853             1886234 items 1-4
Deacons Court Minutes 1850–1892       1886234 items 1-4
Baptisms 1859–1883                           1886234 items 1-4

Milnathort Second Associate Session Anti-burgher, later United Secession, later United Presbyterian Church
[edit | edit source]

When the minister of the First congregation was suspended from the General Associate Anti–burgher Synod, a minority of his congregation gave up hope of his retraction and in 1761 applied for and obtained supply of sermon from that Synod. This congregation apparently joined the United Secession Church in 1820 and the United Presbyterian Church in 1847.
Membership: 1837, 714; average attendance: 400.
Source: Annals and Statistics of the United Presbyterian Church, by Rev. William MacKelvie, D.D., pub. 1873. FHL Film #477618. More details may be given in the source including a list of ministers.

Baptisms 1850–1927
Minutes 1766–1793, 1821–1873
Manager's Minutes 1771–1823, 1838–1880
Cash Book 1844–1860
Seat Book 1844
Receipt Book 1808–1857
Congregational Library Minutes and Accounts 1833–1857
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH3/542.

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]

Orwell was under the probate jurisdiction of the Commissary Court of St. Andrews until 1823.  It was then under the Sheriff's Court of Alloa until 1847 and under the Sheriff's Court of Kinross since then. 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 thelibrary catalog for the 'Place' of Kinross and the subject of 'Probate records.' Then click on the link to the records of the Commissariat of St. Andrews.

Read more about Scotland Probate Records.

[edit | edit source]

  1. Lewis, Samuel A., A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland (1846), pp. 324-337. Adapted. Date accessed: 17 April 2014.

[Return to the Kinross-shire parish list.]