Strath, Inverness-shire, Scotland Genealogy

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Parish #119 

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

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STRATH, or STRATH-SWORDALE, a parish, in the Isle of Skye, county of Inverness, 25 miles (S. S. E.) from Portree; containing the village of Kyleakin, and the isles of Scalpa and Pabay. This place derives the former of its names from a Gaelic term signifying "a valley," and the latter from some lands nearly in the centre of the parish, which anciently gave to the whole neighbourhood their name as a distinguishing appellation. The old church, a very ancient structure, being greatly dilapidated, and not safe, a church has been erected in the village of Broadford; it is a substantial and neat structure containing 600 sittings. There is also a missionary station for Scottish Baptists in the parish.[1]

This parish is known by the names of Srath Mhie Johmhuinn, or Mackinnon’s valley, and of Strath-Swordale, from the Gaelic word Srath, signifying a valley through which a river runs, and Swordale, a place situated in the centre of the parish. But for the sake of brevity, it is always called Strath.

This parish is known to have been, as far back as the year 1354, the family property of the Mackinnons, who took a prominent part in the turbulent proceedings of that period, as well as in the more recent disturbances of 1715 and 1745.

The only heritors in the parish are Lord Macdonald, and Mr. Macalister of Strathaird. This parish originally the property of Mackinnon, was purchased about eighty years ago by the Trustees Sir James Macdonald.

There is some acrerage used for oats and bear, a species of barley,and the cultivation of wheat has been attempted with no success.  Potatoes however, form the principle crop.  Sheep of the Cheviot breed, and small flocks of the black-face breed, graze in the hill pastures.

The earliest entry in the parochial register is dated 1821; from that period it has been regularly kept.

The church is situated in the burying ground of Kilchrist, and might accommodate about 200 sitters. It is very old, and was formerly a Roman Catholic place of worship. It is now in a very ruinous condition, so much so, that for nearly two years there has been no preaching in it. A new church at Broadford is being constructed, which will seat 600.

Public worship is generally well attended; but, owing to the extent of the parish, the ruinous state of the church, and the remote distance from it at which the great majority of the people reside, their attendance is much influenced by the state of the weather.

This account was written April 1840.

Source: New Statistical Account of Scotland, for Strath Family History Library 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  Click on ‘Browse scanned pages’ then search 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 Strath, as well as the library numbers for any surname indexes available:

Year Family History Library Film Number Surname Indexes
1841 1042642 none
1851 1042099 6344852 (3 fiche)
1861 0103837 none
1871 0104002 none
1881 0203429 6086593 (4 fiche)
1891 0208645 none

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 the separate 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 Registers
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Record Type Years Covered Family History Library Film Number
Births: 1820-1854 0990672 item 5
Marriages: 1823-1854 0990672 item 5
Deaths: No entries none


Condition of Original Registers—
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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.
Note: No record prior to 1820

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:

No known pre-1855 records.

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.

Strath Free Church[edit | edit source]

After the Disruption this district was served by catechists. By the efforts of John S. Macphail of Sleat, a preaching station was organized. In 1857 the charge was sanctioned. In 1850 the parish was described as 27 miles long by 7 broad, with seven separate groups of population, and without exception the most neglected portion of the Church. Strathaird Church was built about 1845.
Membership: 1861, 200; 1900, 44.
Source: Annals of the Free Church of Scotland, 1843–1900, ed. Rev. W. Ewing, 2 vols. pub. 1914. Film #918572. More details may be given in the source, including list of ministers.

The extent of records is unknown.

Broadford Baptist Church[edit | edit source]

Baptist missionaries arrived in Skye in 1805–1806, and a small church was formed in Uig about 1808. The congregation at Broadford was established in 1827. Revivals in the 1840's resulted in an increase of membership from 34 to 63. The time of the Great Famine was hard on the people of Strath and many emigrated. In 1926 the Baptist population at Broadford stood at 19. The Broadford church closed in 1944.
Source:  History of the Baptists in Scotland, by Geo. Yuille, 1926, Family History Library British Book 941 K2hi, includes list of ministers; also The Baptists in Scotland, A History, by D. W. Bebbington, 1988, Family History Library British Book 941 K2bs.

The extent of records is unknown. For more information write to:
The Baptist Union of Scotland
12 Aytoun Road
Glasgow G41 5RT

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]

Strath 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 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.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Lewis, Samuel A., A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland (1846), pp. 499-514. Adapted. Date accessed: 30 July 2014.

Return to Inverness-shire parish list.