Alvah, Banffshire, Scotland Genealogy

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Parish #146

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

History[edit | edit source]

ALVAH, a parish, in the county of Banff, 3 miles (W. S. W.) from Banff. The origin of the name of this place, which, in different records, is variously spelled, is altogether involved in obscurity; but authentic sources of information still remain, throwing light on the apportionment of its lands, in early times, to several distinguished families. The church is a plain edifice, erected in 1792.[1]

Alvah and the adjoining parish of Forglen were originally united; but before the middle of the seventeenth century, they were erected into separate parishes. The parish extends in length about 6 English miles; and at its greatest breadth, to nearly the same distance; but in some places, to little more than two.  On the north and north-west, Alvah is bounded by the parish of Banff; on the south-west, by Marnoch; on the south, by Forglen; on the south-east, by Turriff; and on the east and north-east by King-Edward and Gamrie.

In the Advocates' Library at Edinburgh, is preserved a very ancient parchment (this parchment was formerly one of the manuscripts of the late William Rose, Esq. of Montcoffer, to whose son, Patrick Rose, Esq. Banff), containing the particulars of a transaction connected with this parish, at a distance of more than 500 years.  This document is a charter of donation made by Marjory (this countess was the daughter of Donal, alias Bayne, Earl of Mar, and wife of John, tenth Earl of Atholl and Strathbogie.  This Earl of Atholl was a great patriot, and joined Robert Bruce at the battle of Methven; but, being afterwards discovered, was conducted to London, where, notwithstanding his alliance by blood, to the English monarch, he was condemned and executed A.D. 1306.  In consequence of his royal descent, he was hanged on a scaffold thirty feet higher than ordinary.  Before life was extinct, he was taken down, when his head was cut off, and fixed on London Bridge, and his body burnt to ashes.  As a ransom for his soul, his widow gave the lands of Alvah, ut supra), relict of the deceased John Earl of Atholl, Lord Strathalveth, with consent of her son David, her lawful heir.  The tenor of the donation is, that for the salvation of her own soul, as well as that of her deceased husband, John, Earl of Atholl, Lord Strathalveth, and of her father Donald (this Donald, Earl of Mar, father of the Countess of Atholl, Strathbogie, and Strathalvah, was taken prisoner at the battle of Methven, confined eight years in London, exchanged for an English nobleman taken at Bannockburn, and conducted to Scotland in 1314), Earl of Mar, she gives to the blessed Virgin Mary, to God, and to the Abbot of Cupar, the right of patronage of the kirk of Alveth, with the whole lands of Kirktown of Alveth next the kirk.

The population in 1755 was 1161 and by 1841 1407.

The Parochial Registers consist of one quarto and six folio volumes, and appear to have been regularly kept.  However, "from the numerous applications for extracts of births and marriages, which are not to be found in the registers, it is evident, that, until within a recent period, both births and marriages have been very irregularly entered".  The earliest recorded baptism is dated 17 May 1718 and the earliest minute of session, 13 May 1718.  The earlier records are said to have been destroyed by accidental fire:  others maintain "they were carried off by Mr. George Campbell, minister of the parish, who, in 1718, was ejected from his charge on the account of his adherence to Episcopacy".

The church contained free sittings for 600 persons, and was erected in 1792 but was somewhat inconveniently situated about 4-6 miles from the southwest, south, and southeast points of the parish.  The more remote portions of the population, were conveniently "accommodated in the neighbouring churches of King-Edward, Turriff, Forglen, and the Ord chapel of Ease, recently erected in the parish of Banff, near the parish of Alvah". 

The Established Church is the only place of public worship in the parish.  The people are, in general, regular in their attendance, and about 400 communicate annually.  There are only 5 Episcopalians, 1 Seceder, 2 Baptists and 4 Catholic churches within the parish.

The above is an extract of the account written 1837 & revised in 1842.

SourceNew Statistical Account of Scotland (Family History Library book 941 B4sa, series 2; Vol. #13  Date written:  August 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  Click on ‘Browse scanned pages’ then search the parish reports for Alvah.  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 Alvah as well as the library numbers for any surname indexes available:


Years 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 and 1911 census of Scotland is indexed on  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 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
No entries

Condition of Original Registers—

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 be indexed in the International Genealogical Index. 

Births:The flyleaf at the beginning of the record contains irregular entries 1711–1729.Prior to 1759 the mothers’ names are not recorded, and not until 1772 are they inserted regularly.

Marriages:There are no entries January 1813–April 1818 except one entry for 1814 and two in 1816.

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:


Minutes and Accounts 1718–1840
Rolls of those entitled to dissent from settlement by patron if the presentees appear to be improper 1834–1838
Roll of Male Heads of Families 1840
Poor Fund Accounts 1758–1791, 1839–1868
Minutes 1841–1858 - including lists of inhabitants giving residence, age, and sometimes occupation
Decrees of Modification 1782–1900
Other post-1855 records

Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, records CH2/1313.

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.


No nonconformist churches are known.See Banff parish.

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.

Monumental Inscriptions[edit | edit source]

The Kirkyard of Alvah in Banffshire has been indexed by the North-East Scotland Family History Society.

Family History Library 

Online listing is available through the: Aberdeen and North-East Scotland Family History Society

Probate Records[edit | edit source]

Alvah 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 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 Banff 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: 20 June 2014.

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