Bowden, Roxburghshire, Scotland Genealogy

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Bowden (#783)

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


History[edit | edit source]

BOWDEN, a parish, situated in the district of Melrose, county of Roxburgh, 3 miles (S. by E.) from Melrose containing the village of Midlem. This parish, which, in ancient records, is called Bothenden, Botheldene, and Boulden, was, early in the 12th century, granted to the abbey of Selkirk. The parish is situated on the river Ale, by which it is bounded on the south. The church, situated near the eastern extremity of the parish, is an ancient structure, of which the original foundation is unknown; it affords accommodation for nearly 400 persons, and is in a state of good repair; the oldest date that appears on any part of the building, is 1666. There are places of worship for members of the Free Church and the Associate Synod of Original Seceders.[1]

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 Bowden. 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 Scotland Census Records.

Click here for a list of the Family History Library microfilm numbers for the census records of Bowden.

Below is information for any known surname indexes:


Years Surname Index                
1841 941.47/B3 X2m 1841
1851 941.47/B3 X2m 1851
1861 941.47/B3 X2m 1861
1881 6086664 ( 3 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 indexes through the library.

Church Records[edit | edit source]

The Established Church of Scotland was Presbyterian. Read more about Scotland Church Records.

Here are the pre-1855 records that exist for this parish.

Established Church—Old Parochial Registers[edit | edit source]

Years Covered FHL Film Number
Births: 1697-1854 1067932 item 4-5
Marriages: 1697-1807, 1822-1848 1067932 item 4-5
Deaths: 1697-1803, 1822-1848 1067932 item 4-5
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 are frequently out of order of time after 1768. There is an index to the portion after 1768.
Marriages: Only transcribed entries of marriage money until 1707; marriages 1707–1742, and proclamation fees, 1742–1772. There are no entries except a few regular marriages until December 1784. From April 1796, except four for 1805–1806 and a few transcribed entries of proclamation fees 1796–1807, the record is blank until 1822.
Deaths: Mortcloth Dues until 1772, then no entries until January 1785. Deaths 1785–1794. Mortcloth Dues 1795–1803.
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           1692–1694, 1697–1771, 1775–1795, 1803, 1815, 1817, 1832–1920
Accounts         1761–1769, 1805–1819, 1817–1860
Collections       1807–1817
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/752.

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 Lists.


Bowden Free Church[edit | edit source]

Thomas Jolly, minister of the parish and nearly all his congregation, "came out" at the Disruption. The church was built in 1843; a house was bought and enlarged to serve as a manse.
Membership: 1848, 176; 1900, 113.
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.

Minutes                    1843–1900
Communion Roll        1843–1848
Baptismal Register    1843–1859
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH3/834.

Midholm General Associate Anti-burgher Church now extinct[edit | edit source]

In 1740, when the congregation of the parish of Bowden was split over the presentation of a new minister, a great portion of the people withdrew from the Established Church, and acceded to the Associate Presbytery. Supply of sermon was provided to the Seceders here, alternately with those in Ettrick, until a minister was settled in Midholm. Church built in 1746. The majority of this congregation adhered to the General Associate Anti-burgher Synod at the breach in 1747. The last minister, Mr. Inglis, joined the Synod of Original Seceders soon after his resignation, and a short time afterwards his former congregation also went over to that denomination.
Source: Annals and Statistics of the United Presbyterian Church, by Rev. William MacKelvie, D.D., pub. 1873. Film #477618. More details may be given in the source.

Extent of records is unknown.

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]

Bowden was under the probate jurisdiction of the Commissary Court of Peebles until 1823, and since then has been under the Sheriff's Court of Jedburgh. 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 Roxburgh and the subject of 'Probate records.' Then click on the link to the records of the Commissariat of Peebles.

The library also has some post-1823 probate records for Roxburgh.  Look in the library catalog for the 'Place-names' of Roxburgh 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. 124-151. Adapted. Date accessed: 21 March 2014.

Return to the Roxburghshire parish list.