Dunse, Berwickshire, Scotland Genealogy

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Parish #735

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

History[edit | edit source]

DUNSE, a market-town, burgh of barony, and parish, in the county of Berwick, 15 miles (W.) from Berwick, and 42 (S. E.) from Edinburgh; containing, with the late quoad sacra district of Boston, 3162 inhabitants. This place derived its name from the situation of the ancient town on the north-western acclivity of a hill. The parish is bounded on the north and east for a considerable space by the river Whiteadder. The church, erected in 1790 to replace the ancient building, of Norman character, which had fallen into decay, is a plain neat edifice adapted for a congregation of 837 persons. There are places of worship for members of the Free Church, members of the United Associate Synod, and those of the Relief Synod.[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 aboutcensus records.

Click here[low quality link] to see the FamilySearch Catalog entry for the 1841-1891 census reords of Dunse, as well as the catalog entry for the 1841,1851, and 1861 census surname index for Dunse.  Other surname indexes will be found on the Berwick countypage.

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[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]

Here is a list of the surviving church records for this parish. 

Event Type Years Covered Family History Library Film Number
Births: 1615-1819 1067893

1820-1854 1067894

1797-1854 - index 1067894

1832-1853 - neglected 1067894
Marriages: 1797-1854 - with index 1067894
Deaths: 1797-1854 - with index 1067894
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: Double records occur April 1666–July 1694. Irregular entries occur frequently after 1770.
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:

There are no pre-1855 records.

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

Dunse, East General Associate Church[edit | edit source]

In 1737 when some parishioners could not eject a much-disliked new minister, they left the Established Church and petitioned the Associate Presbytery for supply of sermon. They were later joined by several parishioners from Bunkle, an adjoining parish. They built a church in 1742 and another in 1843. Most of this group adhered to the General Associate, Anti-burgher Synod at the Breach in 1747 and retained their church. In 1829, they joined the United Associate Church.
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.

Extent of records is unknown.

Dunse, South Relief Church[edit | edit source]

In 1748, when another unpopular minister settled in the parish church, unhappy parishioners first attended the newly formed General Associate Church. Later, they joined the Relief movement, built a church in 1763, and in 1767 were organized into a congregation. In 1852, they built another church.
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.

Extent of the records is unknown.

Dunse, West Associate Burgher Church[edit | edit source]

At the Breach in 1747, some members of the East Congregation adhered to the Associate Burgher Synod. Their worship services were 11 miles away at Stitchel until 1763 when the Presbytery gave them supply of sermon at Chirnside. The congregation moved to Dunse the following year. They first built a church in 1770 and another in 1821. In 1820 this group joined the United Associate Church.
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.

Records—Extent of the records is unknown.

Boston Free Church[edit | edit source]

The minister of Boston “quoad sacra” parish and his small congregation left the Established Church in 1843. They maintained ownership of the church they had built in 1839.
Membership: 1848, 300; 1900, 298
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 1843–1863
Communion Roll 1843–1855
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH3/

Duns Episcopal Church[edit | edit source]

No history is available. It was dedicated as Christ Church in 1854.

Registers of Christenings 1853–1854 are in the hands of the incumbent.
For information write to:
The Rectory
Duns TD11 3EH
Tel: 011–44–1361 882209

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 =-

Dunse 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. 320-349. Adapted. Date accessed: 28 March 2014.

Return to the Berwickshire parish list.