Chirnside, Berwickshire, Scotland Genealogy

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Parish #730

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

History[edit | edit source]

CHIRNSIDE, a parish and burgh of barony, in the county of Berwick, 4½ miles (S. W. by W.) from Ayton. The name of this place is interpreted "the Sepulchral Tumulus on the side of the hill." The church, which is very ancient, is in tolerable repair; the western door is Saxon, and on one of the walls, evidently of later erection, is a tablet dated 1572, with the inscription Helpe the Pur; the edifice affords accommodation for 500 persons. The United Associate Synod have a place of worship, as have also the Reformed Presbyterian Congregation.[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 record 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[low quality link] to see the FamilySearch Catalog entry for the 1841-1891 census records of Chirnside, as well as the catalog entry for the 1841,1851, and 1861 surname indexesfor Chirnside.  Other surname indexes will be found on the Berwick county page.

The 1841-1911 census of Scotland is indexed on with images. To use it, you must register and pay a small access fee. All available censuses, 1841-1911, are indexed on this website. It may be easier for you to pay to use the website rather than access the separate indexes and records 1841-1901 through the Family History Library.  Other for pay websites that will have indexes 1841-1901 and possibly the 1911 are and

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]

Event Type Years Covered FHL Film Number
Births: 1660-1854 1067867
Marriages: 1660-1853 1067867
Deaths: 1784-1815** 1067867
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 and Marriages: The records of births and marriages are intermixed with other matters until 1669. No births were recorded September 1688–February 1691. Mothers’ names are rarely recorded until 1769. There are no entries August 1669–January 1691, June 1705–November 1747. From October 1779–March 1781 there is only one entry.
Deaths: Burials, only three entries exist after October 1809, dated 1810, 1813, and 1815. **See also the Kirk Session records below.
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]

Minutes 1691–1703, 1748–1801, 1806, 1811, 1814, 1837–1838, 1846, 1850–1851, 1858–1908
Collections and Disbursements 1691–1704, 1768–1812, 1819–1947
Interments in the Churchyard of Chirnside 1817–1854 (FHL book 941.455/C6 K2m)  This book can also be purchased through Graham Maxwell Ancestry at
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/407.

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.

Chirnside Associate Presbyterian Church[edit | edit source]

In 1738, several residents of Chirnside acceded to the Associate Presbytery. and joined the congregations of Stitchel and Dunse. At the Breach in 1747, those who belonged to the General Associate, Anti-burgher Synod attended church in Dunse and those who belonged to the Associate, Burgher Synod attended at Stitchel. When the Stitchel congregation began to grow in 1763, they petitioned to form a congregation in Chirnside. Soon others in surrounding parishes joined with them, and the group moved to Dunse in 1764. In 1836, seceders who belonged to the congregations of Ayton, Berwick, and Dunse left those groups and formed a separate congregation at Chirnside. They built their church in 1838.
Source: Annals and Statistics of the United Presbyterian Church, by Rev. William MacKelvie, D.D., pub. 1873. Film #477618. More details are given in the source.

Accounts 1837–1865
And other post-1855 records
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH3/337.

Chirnside Reformed, later Free Presbyterian Church[edit | edit source]

By the 1700s, Covenanters were in the Chirnside area and supported the Unitarian congregation in Edinburgh in 1753. In 1773, the congregations of Merse and Teviotdate left the Chirnside group. Between 1780 and 1783, the Chirnside parish built a church, later replaced in 1897. From 1785 to 1788, part of the congregation met in Kelso. They were rejoined until 1820 when the Kelso group again separated from the main congregation. In 1876, the Chirnside parish joined with the Free Church. In 1919, they united with Erskine.
Membership: 1842, 140; 1877, 158; 1900, 239.
Source: The Reformed Presbyterian Church in Scotland, by W. J. Couper, pub. 1925. FHL book 941 K2c.

Records—                             FHL Film Number
Baptisms        1843–1860       0304672 item 4 X
Marriages        1844–1860       0304672 item 4 X
Deaths            1843–1860       0304672 item 4 X
Note: The X means records have been extracted.
Session Minutes 1839–1952
List of Members 1844–1891
And other post-1855 records
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH3/336.

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]

Chirnside 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 . 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.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Lewis, Samuel A., A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland (1846), pp. 185-200. Adapted. Date accessed: 28 March 2014.

Return to the Berwickshire parish list.