Fordyce, Banffshire, Scotland Genealogy

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Parish  #153

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

History[edit | edit source]

FORDYCE, a parish, in the county of Banff; containing the villages of Sandend and New Mills, and the town of Portsoy, 2½ miles (W. S. W.) from Portsoy. The name of this place, which appears to have undergone no orthographical variation since the most ancient times, is supposed to be derived from the two Gaelic words fuar, cold, and deas, south, which, from their original appropriation as descriptive of the southern portion of the parish, have been subsequently used as an appellation for the whole of it. The church, built in 1804, contains 1050 sittings.[1]

This parish appears, from the earliest times, to have borne its present name.  The names seems to have been derived from the two Gaelic words, Fuar (cold) and Deas (south); so that Fuardeas, or, as it is now commonly written, Fordyce, would signify "a cold south."  The parish resembles this description as the south part of it consists of low, wet, or moorish lands, far inferior, both in productiveness and climate as to those along the sea-coast.

The whole of the parish, including the whole of the quoad sacra parish of Portsoy, is of a quandrangular form.  Its greatest breadth, in a straight line along the sea-coast, is 6 miles; its least, at the southern extremity, 2 miles; its greatest length, from the mouth of the Burn of Boyne to the top of the Knock Hill, 8 miles; and its least, from Logie Head to the same point, 7 miles.  It is bounded on the north, by the Moray Frity; on the west, by Cullen, Rathven, and Deskford; on the south, by Grange and Ordiquhill; and on the east, by Ordiquhill and Boyndie.

The remains of the encampment on the hill of Durn are still visible; appearing to have been originally of considerable extent; and is most probably to be referred to the time of the Danish invasions.  There are other relics which seem plainly to show that this parish had been the scene of repeated hostile feuds.  There was a tumulus was opened at Auchmore in 1828, in which was found an earthen urn, containing ashes.  The urn was placed in a kind of rude coffin, formed of stones laid together for that purpose.  This and the large mound raised over it would seem to indicate, that it had been a person of distinction whose ashes had been deposited here.  Leading people to believe that they may have been those of some warlike chief, who had fallen in an engagement, of which there is a tradition that it took place near to the spot.  The urn is now preserved in the museum at Banff.

The population seems to have been about 1,525 in 1831.

The registers of dicipline have been regularly kept since 1658, and of baptisms since 1665.  The marriage register does not commence till 1723, since which time it appears to have been regular.

The parish church of Fordyce is centrally situated as respects the whole quoad civilia parish, and also its own ecclesiatical one, now only connected with it.  The distance from it to the boundaries, varies from one and a-half to 5 miles.  It was built in 1804.  It will accommodate about 1100 sitters.  The former chapel of ease at Portsoy was erected in 1836 into a regular quoad sacra parish church.  The new parish comprehending the town and a district of from one to two miles in circuit, lies wholly within the old parish. 

There is an Eqiscopalian Chapel, and also a Roman Catholic one in Portsoy.  The number of Episcopalians in the quoad sacra parish is 95; of Roman, 112; Dissenters, 23, leaving 3134 in connection with the Established Church of whom 1450 are in the ecclesiastical parish of Fordyce, and 1684 in that of Portsoy. 

The above is an extract of the account written in February 1842.

Source:  The New Statistical Account of Scotland for Banff.  Family History Library book 941 B4sa, 2nd series, Vol. 13.   


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 Fordyce. 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 Fordyce as well as the library numbers for any surname indexes available:

Years Family History Library Film Number Surname Index            
1841 1042647
1851 1042105 941.24 X22s v. 1
1861 103809
1871 103968
1881 203439 6086520 (set of 3 Fiche)
1891 208654

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 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
0990824 item 2


1837-1854 - mortcloth dues

[edit | edit source]

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: Prior to July 1717, mothers’ names are not recorded in the entries. Two pages have been lost with entries December 1740–August 1741. After 1788 irregular entries are frequent, and several members of a family are sometimes recorded together.
Marriages:  No entries exist for November 1747–June 1748.
Deaths:  Mortcloth Dues; there are no entries 1751–1786 and 1807–1845.
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: 1622–1634, 1640–1688, 1707–1725, 1725–1769, 1776–1864
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, records CH2/305.

Minutes - Discipline Book 1658–1684
Minutes and Accounts 1684–1723, 1740–1751; 1751–1786
Poor Fund Accounts 1736–1746
Cash Book 1760–1786, 1846–1863
Minutes 1786–1825, 1839–1888
Accounts 1786–1845
Register of Deeds, Cartulary, 1678–1902
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, records CH2/1114.

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.

Fordyce Free Church[edit | edit source]

The parish minister remained with the Established Church at the Disruption. However, some in his parish left the church to form a congregation. The charge was sanctioned in August 1844.
Membership: 1848, 108; 1900, 128.
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.

Minutes 1843–1909
Deacons’ Court minutes 1846–1900
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, records CH3/1250.

Portsoy Free Church[edit | edit source]

The minister and some of the congregation of the quoad sacra parish left the Established Church in 1843. Membership declined due to changes in the fishing industry, as well as emigration from the area.
Membership: 1848, 274; 1900, 240.
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.

FHL Film Number
Baptisms and Marriages, 1843–1855 0304671 item 25 X
Session Minutes, 1843–1911 1886469
Deacons’ Court Minutes, 1844–1854 1886469
Baptisms, 1875–1915 1886470 items 1–3
Marriages 1904–1914 1886470 items 1–3
Deaths, 1896–1915 1886470 items 1–3
Communion Roll, 1845–1876 1886470 items 1–3
Note: The X means records have been extracted.

Portsoy Roman Catholic Church[edit | edit source]

This congregation began about 1790 and the church was dedicated to The Annunciation in 1858.
Source: Catholic Missions and Registers, 1700–1880, Scotland, by Michael Gandy, pub. 1993. FHL Brit Ref. Book 942K24gm, vol. 6.

Registers of Births 1822–1939
Note: Available online for a fee, at,  Edinburgh, record MP/30

Portsoy Episcopal Church[edit | edit source]

There is no history available. However, the 1851 census report noted a total of about 500 attending services at four places of worship within the county. See also Banff, Keith, and Rathven parishes.

FHL Film Number
Registers of Christenings 1799–1911 0924056 item 2
Registers of Marriages 1839–1911 0924056 item 2
Registers of Burials 1828–1911 0924056 item 2
See also book 941.24/P1 V26p

Note:Available online for a fee, at , Edinburgh, record MP

Portsoy Branch, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter–Day Saints[edit | edit source]


FHL Film Number
Record of Members, 1848–1853 0104155 item 10

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]

Fordyce 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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