Prestonkirk, East Lothian, Scotland Genealogy

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Parish #717

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

History[edit | edit source]

PRESTONKIRK, a parish, in the county of Haddington, 5 miles (E. N. E.) from Haddington; containing the village of Linton. This place, originally called Linton from the principal village, assumed at the time of the Reformation the appellation of Prestonhaugh, from the position of its church near a meadow on the bank of the Tyne. The church was built in 1770, and enlarged in 1824; it is a neat substantial edifice adapted for a congregation of 800 persons. There are places of worship for members of the Free Church, and the United Associate Synod.[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 for a list of the Family History Library microfilm numbers for the census records of Prestonkirk.  Below is information for any known surname indexes:


Years Surname Index            
1851 CD-ROM no. 3567
1881 6086586 ( 2 fiche)

The 1901 census of Scotland is indexed on  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 church records.
Here are the pre-1855 records that exist for this parish.

Established Church—Old Parochial Registersters[edit | edit source]

Scotland Church Records

Event Type Years Covered FHL Film Number
Births: 1658-1820 - baptisms 1067854 item 3-4

1820-1855 1067855 item 1
Marriages: 1658-1821 1067854 item 3-4

1820-1855 1067855 item 1
Deaths; 1846-1855 - burials 1067855 item 1
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: No entries February–November 1662. The lower portion of leaf is torn off at February 1785. After December 1810 there are irregular entries on two pages 1806–1832. Mothers’ names not recorded until November 1689.
Marriages: Records are blank June 1661–December 1662, October 1678–August 1681, and December 1688–October 1691. There is a separated record of proclamations 1663–1678 after marriages 1726.
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 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 and Collections 1691–1785, 1835–1851
Cash Books 1786–1846
Register of Heads of Families 1836–1837
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/306.

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.


East Linton Associate Burgher, later United Presbyterian, then United Free Church[edit | edit source]

This congregation originated with members of the Established Church who were dissatisfied with the life and doctrine of the incumbent minister of the parish, and on that account applied for and obtained supply of sermon from the Associate Burgher Presbytery of Edinburgh in 1792. Church built in 1795. This congregation apparently became United Presbyterian in 1847 and United Free Church of Scotland in 1900. It united with the Prestonkirk Free Church in 1910, and it is assumed it rejoined the Established Church of Scotland in 1929.
Source: Annals and Statistics of the United Presbyterian Church, by Rev. William MacKelvie, D.D., pub. 1873. Film #477618. More details may be given in the source including a list of ministers.

Minutes 1795–1910
Managers’ Minutes 1811–1859
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH3/778.

Prestonkirk Free Church[edit | edit source]

The minister of the parish, with three elders and many of his people, “came out” in 1843 and formed the Free Church congregation. Mr. Christie of Markle made over to the Free Church a house and garden which he had purchased in anticipation of the Disruption. The church was built in the garden. It was built of stones from an old disuntilery, on the site of which the manse was erected in 1846. A tower and bell were added to the church about 1881. The church was known as St. Andrew’s. The population of the district, purely agricultural, considerably declined. This congregation united with the East Linton United Free Church in 1910, and it is assumed it rejoined the Established Church of Scotland in 1929.
Membership: 1870, 294; 1900, 274.
Source: Annals of the Free Church of Scotland, 1843–1900, 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.

Minutes 1843–1910
Deacons’ Court Minutes 1843–1855 scroll, 1843–1994
Accounts 1844–1894
Sustentation Fund Accounts 1845–1882
List of Subscribers to Declaration of Adherence 1843
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH3/779.

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]

Prestonkirk was under the probate jurisdiction of the Commissary Court of Edinburgh until 1823, and since then has been under the Sheriff's Court of Haddington.  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' of East 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 East Lothian. Look in the library catalog for the 'Place' of East 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. 388-396. Adapted. Date accessed: 04 April 2014.

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