What are Church Records?
Our Highland Church Records are from the Church of Scotland. We hold Minutes and Financial Records for many Highland Synods, Presbyteries and Kirk Sessions. The records of the General Assembly are held in Edinburgh. The collection also includes Baptismal Registers, Marriage Proclamation Rolls and Communion Rolls. In addition to these we hold the records of certain Free Churches which re-joined the Church of Scotland – known as Secession Churches. We do not hold the records of the Free Church.
What dates do they cover?
The dates vary for each church depending on what records (if any) have survived; for Inverness Presbytery (Church of Scotland) we hold records from 1632 onwards. Records for those Free Churches which subsequently re-joined the Church of Scotland usually date from 1843, the year in which the denomination was established.
What can I use them for?
- confirm a marriage or baptism date
- find genealogical details
- check if a person lived in a parish by their presence on a Communion Roll
- learn about local, national and social history
- understand the influence and power of the church in everyday life
What will they tell me?
- The information in each volume varies but Minutes can include:
- details of people called before the Kirk Session for misdemeanours
- the list of poor supported by the church
- details of building/repair work to the church fabric
- commentary on local/national events
The relevant Registers record the details of people married and baptised.
Will there be useful information in there?
If you’re using the records for family history research there is no guarantee that you will find your ancestor mentioned but the church records are certainly worth examining. If you know he/she lived in a certain parish the Kirk Session Minutes will give you a fascinating insight into what life was like there during his/her lifetime. If you’re researching Highland history or church history the collection will definitely provide relevant information.
Do I need to know anything first?
If you’re researching a person, it’s helpful to know which parish he/she lived in. This can be established through birth, marriage, death certificates and census entries. If you’re researching social history or a particular area, it’s up to you where you start!
Are there any viewing restrictions?
Yes – due to the sensitive information within, church records are closed for 30 years.
Can I order photocopies?
Yes – digital scans. You can download our charges here.
Can I take photographs?
No – one of the conditions of these records being held with The Highland Archive Service is that they are not photographed.
Where can I find out what you hold?
- Highland Archive Centre, Inverness
- Lochaber Archive Centre, Fort William
- Skye and Lochalsh Archive Centre, Kyle of Lochalsh
- Caithness Archive Centre, Wick