Alness, Ross and Cromarty, Scotland

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Parish # 57

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

History[edit | edit source]

ALNESS, a parish, in the county of Ross and Cromarty, 9 miles (N. E. by N.) from Dingwall. This parish, which takes its name from two Gaelic words signifying a "burn," or small river, and a "point," is bounded on the south by the Cromarty Frith. The church, which was built in 1780, is in good condition, and holds 800 people. A Free Church place of worship has been erected.[1]

Alness appears to be the only name that has been given to this parish.  It is compounded of two Gaelic words, auld, signifying a burn or small river, and neas, a point.  The parish of Alness is bounded on the north by imaginary lines dividing it from that of Kincardine; and on the south, by the shores of the Cromarty Firth.  On the east, it is divided from the parish of Rosskeen by the river of Alness; and on the west, by Kiltearn by the river Auldgrande

 It is said that, soon after the accession of William III, the parish suffered a famine of such severity, that in one district, that was well populated, the number of inhabitants was reduced to three.  If the accounts of tradition can be believed, the people were under necessity of forming common coffins, into which the dead, being thrown promiscuously, were buried without the ordinary solemnities of a funeral.

During the period which succeeded the restoration of Charles, an attempt was made to do away with the Presbyterian form of worship in Scotland, and to introduce Prelacy in its place.

A noteworthy individual connected with this part of the country is Mr. James Fraser, one of the ministers of Alness.  This eminent individual was born in the year 1700, and was the son of the Rev. John Fraser, also a minister of the parish, he is well known on account of the sufferings which he endured for his steady adherence to the principles and constitution of the Church of Scotland during the persecution of 1679 or 1680.

Another individual of  note from this parish is General Sir Hector Munro, K.B.  He was one of the principal proprietors, and rendered himself famous by his exploits in India during the war which was carried on there towards the close of the eighteenth century.

The proprietors of the parish are, H.A. J. Munro of Novar, Major-General Munro of Teaninich, and Finlay Munro of Lealty.

In the former Account, which was written in the year 1793, the number of persons then inhabiting the parish is stated at 1121, of whom 800 are stated as having been above seven years of age.  The number now living in the parish is 1440.

There is no entire village in this parish.  The village of Alness is divided nearly equally between this and the neighbouring parish of Rosskeen.  In the village of Rosskeen, there is a market held monthly for the purpose of selling cattle.

The church is situated in the southern extremity of the parish, only about a mile from the shores of the Firth, and is inconvenient for the people to attend.  All the people of the parish belong to the Established Church, and are regular in their attendance to worship services.

This account was written February 1840.

Source: New Statistical Account of Scotland for Alness, Family History Library book 941 B4sa, series 2, vol. 14. 

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 you are interested in. Also available at the Family History Library.

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

Family History Library Film Number
Surname Indexes
6037266 (6 fiche)
6086658 (4 fiche)

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]

Record Type
Years Covered
Family History Library Film Number
0990577 item 1
0990577 item 1
No entries


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: Intermixed throughout with marriages, otherwise, regularly kept.
Marriages: Same as for births.
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 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:

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.

Alness Free Church[edit | edit source]

The minister and a large part of the congregation of Alness "came out" in 1843. Sites for the church and manse were given in perpetuity, at a nominal rent. The church was built in 1843, and renovated in 1893. A school was provided. The congregation suffered heavily through young people leaving the parish.
Membership: 1848, 80; 1900, 79.
Source: Annals of the Free Church of Scotland, 1843–1900, ed. Rev. William Ewing, D.D., 2 vols. pub. 1914. Film #918572. More details may be given in the source, including ministers.
Marriages 1847–1912
Baptisms 1843–1929
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH3/750.

Civil Registration
[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]

Alness was under the probate jurisdiction of the Commissary Court of Ross until 1823, and since then has been under the Sheriff's Court of Ross & Cromarty. 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 Ross & Cromarty and the subject of 'Probate records.' Then click on the link to the records of the Commissariat of Ross.
The library also has some post-1823 probate records for Ross & Cromarty. Look in the library catalog for the 'Place-names' of Ross & Cromarty 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. 499-514. Adapted. Date accessed: 30 July 2014.

Return to Ross & Cromarty parish list.