Avoch, Ross and Cromarty, Scotland

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Parish  #59

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

History[edit | edit source]

AVOCH, a parish, in the county of Ross and Cromarty, 1¾ mile (S. W. by W.) from Fortrose. This place apparently derives its name, signifying, in the Gaelic language, "shallow water," from the small river on which it is situated. The church, a neat plain structure, erected in 1670, and repaired in 1833, is situated close to the village, and contains 600 sittings. There is a place of worship for Independents.[1]

Avoch (a name which in the opinion of an ingenious etymolgist, signifies "shallow waters.")

The celebrated Scots historian, priest and Lord of Session, Chambers of Ormond, was born in this parish about the year 1530.  He was proprietor of Castleton and Ormond Hill, which gave title to Douglas, Earl of Ormond.  Sir George Mackenzie of Rosehaugh resided in this parish, and had very extensive possessions in it and its vicinity.

The nearest market-town to Avoch in the royal burgh of Fortrose, about a mile and three-quarters distant.

There are three land-owners: Sir James W. Mackenzie of Scatwell, Baronet, Lord Lieutenant of the county; Alexander Mackenzie, Esq. of Avoch; and John Matheson, Esq. of Bennetsfield.

The parish church is very conveniently situated on the southern side of the parish, close to the village, in which nearly one-half of the whole population reside.  It was built in 1670, new roofed and enlarged in 1792, the ceiling was lathed and plastered in 1833.  It affords accommodation for more that 600; some of the seats are the property of private individuals, the remainder in general belong to farms on the estates of the heritors, for which no payment in required.

There is a parochial register regularly kept.  The earliest entry in the oldest register of this parish, which was by no means regularly kept, is dated 1727.

The amount of the population of this parish in 1831 was 1956; males 906, females 1050.  The amount of population this year (1839) in 1936.

This account was written February 1840.

Source: New Statistical Account of Scotland for Avoch, 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 http://edina.ac.uk/stat-acc-scot/.  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 Avoch as well as the library numbers for any surname indexes available:

Family History Library Film Number
Surname Indexes
6307266 (6 fiche)
6086658 (4 fiche)

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 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
0990578 item 1
0990578 item 1
0990578 item 1
0990578 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: Entries irregular around 1770. There is only one entry September 1784–October 1787. There is a separate record of dissenters' children from 1820.
Marriages:Nearly every entry prior to 1737 was signed by the session–clerk. There are only two entries, 1746, November 1744–April 1767. No entries September 1767–June 1771 and September 1773–November 1787.
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 1728–1891
Cash Book, Poor Funds 1787–1847, 1867–1874
Baptisms 1856–1883
Communion Rolls 1865–1886
Heads of Families 1835–1838
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/794.

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.

Avoch Free Church[edit | edit source]

The minister of Avoch did not "come out" in 1843. In 1846 a church was erected. The Assembly sanctioned the charge in 1850 and a minister was settled in 1851. A new church was built in 1872. Nearly all of the people of this fishing village belonged to the Congregational Church. The Free Church drew its members from the surrounding district in which the population decreased.
Membership: 1855, 220; 1900, 47.
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.

There are no pre-1855 records.

Avoch Congregational Church[edit | edit source]

This congregation was formed early in 1808 as the result of the evangelistic labors of Alexander Dewar. He became the first pastor of the church and was the means of gathering a large and prosperous congregation that was still active 150 years later. In addition to his pastoral labors Dewar was a zealous evangelist and for many years an itinerant preacher in many parts of Ross and Sutherland. A church was built in 1819.
Source: A History of Scottish Congregationalism, by Harry Escott, published Glasgow, 1960. Family History Library 941 K2es

The extent of records is unknown. For availability of records, write to:
The United Reformed Church, Scottish Synod Office
PO Box 189
240 Cathedral Street
Glasgow G1 2BX

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]

Avoch 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 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 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.