Tranent, East Lothian, Scotland Genealogy

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Parish #722

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

History[edit | edit source]

TRANENT, a parish, in the county of Haddington; containing the villages of Cockenzie, Elphinstone, Meadowmill, and Portseaton, 7 miles (W.) from Haddington, and 10 (E.) from Edinburgh. The name of this place is of uncertain derivation, though it is generally supposed to be of Gaelic origin, and descriptive of the position of the ancient village at the head of a deep ravine watered by a small rivulet. The parish is bounded on the north by the Frith of Forth. The parish was anciently of much greater extent than at present, including the whole of the parish of Prestonpans, which was severed from it in 1606, and also parts of the parishes of Gladsmuir and Pencaitland. The church, erected in 1801, is a neat substantial structure adapted for a congregation of 912 persons. A church was erected in the village of Cockenzie in 1838, by subscription, aided by grants from the General Assembly and the East Lothian Church Extension Society. It is a neat edifice containing 452 sittings. There are in the village of Tranent places of worship for members of the Free Church and United Secession.[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 Tranent.

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 Registers[edit | edit source]

Scotland Church Records

Event Type Years Covered FHL Film Number
Births: 1611-1645, 1661-1683 - baptisms 1067860 item 4-6

1685-1687 0304667 item 1

1688-1693 1067862 item 1-2

1688-1693 1067860 item 1-2

1711-1749 1067860 item 4-6

1750-1826 1067861

1826-1855 1067862 item 1-2

1835-1846 - neglected entries 1067862 item 1-2
Marriages: 1611-1644, 1668-1682 1067860 item 4-6

1688-1693 1067862 item 1-2

1718-1749 1067860 item 4-6

1626-1854 1067862 item1-2
Deaths; 1618-1632 - burials 1067860 item 4-6

1782-1854 1067861
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: Records are blank February 1621–September 1626. Early leaves are much wasted, particularly 1626–1632, many entries being almost entirely destroyed. Records are also blank August 1645–August 1661, and April 1662–January 1668. Seven leaves of entries, 1671–1680 are at June 1683. Records are blank June 1683–December 1711, and March 1717–November 1718. Records are tabulated 1718–1762. Mothers’ names are not recorded until April 1643.
Marriages: Marriage records prior to 1644, are on occasional pages of the register of births. They are blank July 1644–February 1668, November 1683–December 1711, from which date until March 1717, entries are intermixed with births. Records are blank March 1717–November 1718. Two leaves at this date are imperfect. Records blank April 1745–July 1747 and a large number of the marriages recorded after 1750 are irregular.
Deaths: Entries 1618–1632 are mixed with births. They are blank November 1620–October 1626, and excluding one entry 1632 October 1631–January 1782; also excluding one entry 1793, May 1787– December 1802.
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 1651–1657, 1670–1680, 1684–1686, 1701–1904
Accounts 1711–1786, 1834–1843
Stipend Accounts 1806–1807, 1823–1848
Heritors’ and Session Minutes Concerning the Poor 1722–1753
Seat Rents etc. 1822–1833
Mortality Bill 1754–1781
Decreets of Locality 1826–1827 and 1832
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/357.

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.

The New Statistical Account of Scotland for Tranent 1839 states that there were at that time within the parish about 640 nonconformists, about 18% of the population.

Tranent Burgher Church, later United Presbyterian, then Wishart United Free Church
[edit | edit source]

When the church and parish of Tranent became vacant in 1740, the majority of the parishioners disapproved of the patron’s choice of a new minister. The reclaiming party seceded to the Associate Presbytery, but as the Presbytery was unable to supply them with preachers, they joined themselves to the congregation of Haddington, then forming. The following year they petitioned to be formed into a separate congregation, but before that could take place, the Burgess Oath controversy divided them, as it did all other members of the denomination throughout the country. Thirty years passed before those members of the First Secession congregation of Haddington, resident in and about Tranent, applied for and, after much opposition, obtained supply of sermon in Tranent in 1771. A church was built; a second was built in 1826. This congregation apparently became United Presbyterian in 1847 and United Free Church in 1900.
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 1777–1819, 1822–1846, 1872–1913
Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/560.

Tranent Free Church[edit | edit source]

The parish ministers of Tranent and Gladsmuir did not “come out” in 1843. The people adhering to the Free Church in these parishes formed the congregation in Tranent. A minister was settled in August 1843 and a church was erected. It was repaired and reseated in 1898. A school, later used as a hall, was built in 1846, and reconstructed in 1887.
Membership: 1848, 240; 1900, 171.
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.

                                           FHL Film Number
Baptisms       1843–1888      0889488 item 1

Minutes 1845–1895
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH3/561.

Tranent Branch, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter–Day Saints
[edit | edit source]


                                                        FHL Film Number
Record of Members,    early to 1868    0104156 item 6

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]

Tranent 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. 546-567. Adapted. Date accessed: 04 April 2014.

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