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West Calder, Midlothian, Scotland Genealogy

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Parish #701

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

History[edit | edit source]

CALDER, WEST, a parish, in the county of Edinburgh, 16½ miles (W. S. W.) from Edinburgh. The church was built in 1643. In 1844 a place of worship in connexion with the Free Church was erected, and there is a meeting-house for the 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
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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 West Calder as well as the library numbers for any surname indexes available.

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
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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]

Years Covered FHL Film Number
Births: 1645-1854 baptisms 1067792 items 5-6

1804-1871 baptisms 1067793 items 1-2
Marriages: 1677-1840 1067792 items 5-6

1839-1854 1067793 items 1-2
Deaths: 1678-1840 - burials 1067792 items 5-6

1839-1854 - burials 1067793 items 1-2
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: There are no entries April 1664–November 1674 and November 1687–May 1705. Mothers’ names are not recorded until July 1677.
Marriages: There are no entries November 1683–July 1685 and October 1687–June 1752 except five entries of marriage money, 1746–1747. The lower portion of the page at January 1754 is cut off. There are no entries October 1754–June 1776. After November 1781 there are only a few transcribed entries, most of them of irregular marriages, 1797–1817, until 1820.
Deaths: Transcribed entries of Mortcloth Dues, etc., prior to 1850, except burials for 1818–1828. No dates prefixed to entries prior to 1739.
Source: Key to the Parochial Registers of Scotland, by V. Ben Bloxham, pub. 1970. British Book 941 K23b.

Established Church—Kirk Session Records
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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 1677–1687, 1707–1847
Cash Book 1692–1701, 1741–1826
Scroll Minutes 1770–1775, 1781–1786
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/366.

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.

West Calder United Secession Church[edit | edit source]

This congregation originated in the settlement of an unacceptable minister in the parish in 1794, and by disjunctions from the Secession congregations of Longridge and East Calder. The church was built in 1795.
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 ministers.

Extent of records is unknown.

Civil Registration Records
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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
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West Calder was under the probate jurisdiction of the Commissary Court of Edinburgh until 1823, and since then has been under the Sheriff's Court of Edinburgh. 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 Midlothian 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 Midlothian. Look in the library catalog for the 'Place-names' of Midlothian 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. 163-185. Adapted. Date accessed: 17 April 2014.

Return to the Midlothian parish list.