Torphichen, West Lothian, Scotland Genealogy

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Parish #671

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

History[edit | edit source]

TORPHICHEN, a parish, in the county of Linlithgow; containing the village of Blackridge, 2¾ miles (N. by W.) from Bathgate. This place, which is supposed to have derived its name from its hills, was anciently the seat of a commandery of the Knights of Malta and St. John of Jerusalem. The church, which is adjacent to the ancient commandery, near the eastern extremity of the parish, is a neat building erected in 1756, and containing 550 sittings. A church has been erected in the village of Blackridge, and the members of the Free Church have a place of worship.[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.

Clickhere[low quality link] to see the FamilySearch Catalog entry for the 1841-1891 census records of Torphichen, as well as the catalog entry for the 1881 surname indexes.

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.

Churh 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]


Event Type Years Covered FHL Film Number
Births: 1675-1692, 1808-1854 1066638 items 1-3

1697-1809 1066637 item 4
Marriages: 1697-1711, 1808-1854 1066638 items 1-3
Deaths: 1808-1854 - Mortcloth Dues 1066638 items 1-3

1686-1704 - Mortcloth dues 0844775 item 1

See also book # 941 B4sr vol.40

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 be indexed in the International Genealogical Index. 
Births: There is only one entry for March 1712–April 1714 and none for December 1751–January 1753. Two pages containing entries for May 1762–March 1763 are recorded after those for January 1760 and there is one page of irregular entries for 1756 before September 1760. Mothers' names are not recorded until 1701.
Marriages: Proclamation fees are intermixed with Mortcloth Dues and other matters.
Deaths: Mortcloth Dues are intermixed with proclamation fees and other matters.
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 Kirk 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 Accounts 1673–1851, 1855–1878
Disbursement of Half Crowns 1700–1714
Certificates on Leaving Parish 1808–1823
Collections 1850–1879
Collections Register 1743–1754
Cash Book 1753–1808
List of Poor and Their Allowances 1756–1758
Expenditure for Part of Parish West of Logie Water 1828–1835
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/503.

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.

Torphichen Associate Burgher Church, extinct[edit | edit source]

In 1747, some parishioners who were unhappy with the choice of a new parish minister withdrew from the Established Church and applied to the Associate Burgher Presbytery of Edinburgh to be formed as a congregation. This was granted.
Source: Annals and Statistics of the United Presbyterian Church, by Rev. William MacKelvie, D.D., pub. 1873. FHL Film #0477618. More details are given in the source.

Session Minutes 1843–1894
Deacons Court Minutes 1844–1884
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH3/438.

Torphichen Free Church[edit | edit source]

This congregation was organized at the Disruption in 1843, and the parish minister also adhered to the Free Church. A school was built here. With the development of industries in the district, the old agricultural population gradually gave place to a new industrial class.
Membership: 1848, 150; 1900, 117.
Source: Annals of the Free Church of Scotland, 1843–1900, ed. Rev. William Ewing, D.D., 2 vols. pub. 1914. FHL Film #0918572. More details are given in the source.

The extent of records is unknown.

Blackridge Free Church[edit | edit source]

At the Disruption in 1843, the congregation at Blackridge adhered to the Free Church. However, this was a preaching station until 1898. The members originally were farmers and farm servants. The opening of the mines changed the character of the population.
Membership: 1849, 60; 1900, 104.
Source: Annals of the Free Church of Scotland, 1843–1900, ed. Rev. William Ewing, D.D., 2 vols. pub. 1914. FHL Film #0918572. More details are given in the source.

There are no known records.

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]

Torphichen was under the probate jurisdiction of the Commissary Court of Edinburgh until 1823, and since then has been under the Sheriff's Court of Linlithgow. 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 West 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 West Lo. Look in the library catalog
 for the 'Place' of [County] and the subjects of 'Probate Records' and 'Probate Records - Indexes.'

Read more about Scotland Probate Records.

Read more about Scotland Probate Records.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Lewis, Samuel A., A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland (1846), pp. 546-567. Adapted. Date accessed: 17 April 2014.

Return to the West Lothian Parish List.