Aberlour, Banffshire, Scotland Genealogy

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Parish #145

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


History[edit | edit source]

ABERLOUR, a parish, in the county of Banff, 5 miles (W. N. W.) from Dufftown, on the road from Elgin to Grantown; containing the village of Charlestown. This parish, formerly called Skirdustan, signifying, in the Gaelic tongue, "the division of Dustan," its tutelary saint, derived its present name from its situation at the mouth of a noisy burn, which discharges itself into the river Spey. The church, a well-arranged structure, erected in 1812, is situated to the north of Charlestown, at a distance of about 300 yards from the ruins of the old church, near the influx of the burn of Aberlour into the Spey. In the valley of Glenrinnes is a missionary establishment, and a chapel of ease has been erected.[1]

The name of this parish was originally Skirkdustan, from the word Skir, meaning, in the original Gaelic, to cut or divide, and Dustan, the name of its tutelary saint; the whole signifying Dustan's division or parish.  It takes its modern name of Aberlour from its situation, the word literally signifying the locality near the influx of a noisy burn; which burn, discharges itself into the Spey, about the middle of the northern boundary of the parish.

Aberlour is situated in the western part of the county of Banff; about 34 miles from the county town; 14 miles from Keith and 14 from Elgin.  On the north, it is separated from the parishes of Knockando and Rothes by the river Spey; on the east, from Boharm, by the small river Fiddich; on the south-east, from Morlach by the Conval hills, and the brook Dullan in the vale of Glenrinnes; and on the west, from Inveraven by a line that passes from the rivulet Tervey over the western shoulder of Benrinnes and the hill of Carron to the river Spey.

The original Land-owners were four proprietors, Lord Fife; James William Grant, Esq. of Wester Elchies; Alexander Grant, Esq. of Aberlour; and the Earl of Seafield.  Lord Fife is the greatest land-owner, and the Earl of Seafield the least, the latter possessing only the small property of Mudhouse.  Aberlour is the only family seat in the parish.

The English language is universally spoken in the parish, and a very few families and servants, originally from Highland districts, are capable of using the Gaelic language.

With the suppression of smuggling, a case of which is now scarcely ever heard of within the bounds of the parish, the people were generally very well informed according to their station in life, resulting in a moral and religious community.

The cultivated parts of the parish, which may be about one-half of its whole extent, and a great proportion of which has been improved within the last twelve years, are divided into farms, of from L. 10 to L. 100 of yearly rent, generally under leases of nineteen years' duration.  The soil, when properly cultured, is in general capable of raising all sorts of grain, barley, oats, wheat, pease, etc.; and it is remarked, that the average weight of barley here is from a pound and a-half to two pounds more per bushel than in the heavier soils of the neighbouring parishes Mortlach and Glass.  All the farmers raise black-cattle of the Morayshire breed, and those near the hills keep a flock of sheep of the hardy black-faced kind; but, on the whole, grain is the staple commodity the farmer has to depend on.

The population of this parish in 1792 was 920 people; by 1831 the population had risen to 1276 souls.

A parochial register has been regularly kept since the year 1707, down to the present time, with the exception of some trifling blanks during the troublesome period of 1745.  A registration of marriages, births, and deaths was uniformly made at the commencement of this period; but that of deaths has been discontinued for the last seventy-six years.

There was a new parish church erected in the year 1812 which contains 700 sittings, all free.  The church was in good repair, as of July 1836, & was conveniently situated for the attendance of the greater part of the parish, being, with the exception of Glenrinnes, not more than 3 1/2 miles from its farthest extremity in an east and south direction, and little more than 4 miles from the farthest habitation on the west, or Inveraven side.

Source: New Statistical Account of Scotland (Family Hustory Library book 941 B4sa, series 2, Vol. 13.  Date written: July 1836)


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 Aberlour. Also available at the his

Census Records[edit | edit source]

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 Aberlour as well as the library numbers for any surname indexes available:


Year Family History Library Film Number Surname Index             
1841 1042646
1851 1042104 941.24 X22s v. 1
1861 103808
1871 103967
1881 203436 6086520 (set of 3 Fiche)
1891 208652

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 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]

Record Type
Years Covered
Family History Library Film Number



1709-1773, 1807


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 two transcribed entries for 1704 at the beginning of the record. Entries are irregular and incomplete March 1762–February 1766 and a few years out of chronological order.
Marriages: There are no entries April 1762–March 1766 and June 1774–November 1776.
Deaths: Burials are recorded for January 1709–June 1760; Mortcloth Dues are recorded for March 1723–July 1773. There is only one entry for July 1807.
Source: Key to the Parochial Registers of Scotland, by V. Ben Bloxham, pub. 1970. British Book 941K23b.

Established Church—Kirk Session Records[edit | edit source]

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 1671–1688, 1709–1873
Separate Register 1746–1914
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, records CH2/6.

Minutes 1706–1989
Communion Rolls 1843–1925
Cash Book 1773–1822
Poor Fund Accounts 1822–1846
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, records CH2/1337.

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.


Aberlour Free Church[edit | edit source]

Services were provided for followers of the Free Church beginning in 1843. After the congregation was forced to leave their meeting place, they moved to an old smithy at the Muir of Ruthrie. In 1846 a probationer was appointed, in 1847 a church was built, and in 1859 the charge was sanctioned.
Membership: 1861, 82; 1900, 180.
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.

Presbytery Minutes 1846–1900.
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, records CH3/7.
No other pre-1855 records exist.

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]

Aberlour was under the probate jurisdiction of the Commissary Court of Aberdeen until 1823, and since then has been under the Sheriff's Court of Banff.  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 Banff and the subject of 'Probate records.' Then click on the link to the records of the Commissariat of Aberdeen/.

The library also has some post-1823 probate records for Banff. Look in the library catalog for the 'Place-names' of Banffand 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. 499-514. Adapted. Date accessed: 20 June 2014.

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