Westruther, Berwickshire, Scotland Genealogy

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Parish # 756

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

History[edit | edit source]

WESTRUTHER, a parish, in the county of Berwick, 5½ miles (E. by N.) from Lauder. This place was perhaps originally called Wolfstruther, from the number of wolves with which it was infested, but subsequently, on their disappearance, was styled Westruther, to distinguish it from an extensive morass to the east of it, now called Dogden Moss. The old church, erected on the separation of the parish from that of Gordon in 1649, has, after undergoing several alterations and repairs, been abandoned; and a new church, well adapted to the accommodation of the people, has been erected: it was opened in 1840. 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 http://edina.ac.uk/stat-acc-scot/. 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 record is a count and description of the population, taken by the government, arranged by locality and by household. Read more about Scotland Census Records

Click here[low quality link] to see the FamilySearch Catalog entry for the 1841-1891 census records of Westruther, as well as the catalog entry for the 1841 census surname index for Westruther. Other surname indexes will be found listed on the Berwickshire county page.

The 1901 census of Scotland is indexed on www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk. 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 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: 1657-1854 1067904 item 4-5
Marriages: 1657-1854 1067904 item 4-5
Deaths: None
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 September 1660–April 1677, January 1683–December 1691, November 1692–May 1696, October 1697–September 1699 and January 1775–January 1787. After 1819 there is a scroll of the record for 1746–1786.
Marriages: No entries are recorded October 1660–November 1691, and only two entries August 1692–February 1701, June 1719–May 1745, and November 1803–May 1806. Seven pages for 1745–1753 are in poor condition.
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 1655, 1659–1660, 1678–1682, 1704–1930
Communion Lists 1843–1867
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/369.

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 theScotland Church Records Union List. 

In 1834 there were 34 dissenters, members of the Secession or Associate Church, within the parish, but no chapels. They would have attended services in neighboring parishes.

Westruther Free Church
[edit | edit source]

The minister of the parish and a large part of his congregation left the Established Church in 1843. After some difficulty, a rough church was erected and used until a more substantial stone church was built in 1854. Earlston and Legertwood were at first included in the Westruther district. The congregation suffered through decline of the population.
Source: Annals of the Free Church of Scotland, 1843–1900, ed. Rev. William Ewing, D.D., 2 vols. pub. 1914. Film #918572. More details are given in the source.

Minutes 1843–1930
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH3/462.

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]

Westruther was under the probate jurisdiction of the Commissary Court of Lauder until 1823, and since then has been under the Sheriff's Court of Duns. Probate records for 1513- 1901 are indexed online at www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk. 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 Berwick and the subject of 'Probate records.' Then click on the link to the records of the Commissariat of Lauder.

The library also has some post-1823 probate records for Berwick. Look in the library catalog for the 'Place-names' of Berwick and the subjects of 'Probate Records' and 'Probate Records - Indexes.'

Read more about Scotland Probate Records.

[edit | edit source]

  1. Lewis, Samuel A., A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland (1846), pp. 588-608. Adapted. Date accessed: 03 April 2014.

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