Inveresk, Midlothian, Scotland Genealogy

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Parish #689

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

History[edit | edit source]

INVERESK, a parish, in the county of Edinburgh, 5 miles (E. by S.) from Edinburgh; containing the town of Musselburgh, and the villages of Monktonhall, Cowpits, Craighall, Stoneyhill, and part of New Craighall. This place derives its name from its situation near the influx of the river Esk into a bay on the south shore of the Frith of Forth. The church of St. Michael, a spacious building, supposed to have been erected soon after the introduction of Christianity into Britain, was taken down in 1804, and a new structure erected on its site in 1806. The present church, containing 2400 sittings, is a plain edifice in the Grecian style of architecture, with a lofty tower and spire, forming a conspicuous landmark. A church has been built in Fisherrow, in the parish; and there are places of worship for members of the Free Church, the Relief, United Secession, Independents, and Wesleyans; and an episcopal chapel.[1]

The church and village of Inveresk are near the confluence of the the river Esk with the Firth of Forth.  The name Inveresk signifires the mouth of the river.  Musselburgh is the chief town in the parish and gets its name from an extensive mussel bank which stretches out into the sea.  In ancient charters it is almost uniformly written muschelburg.  In 1783 during some garden improvements near Inveresk House the foundations of various buildings were exposed at the depth of three or four feet.  A Roman bath of two rooms was traced.  The smaller was 9 feet by 4 1/2, the larger was 15 by 9.  There was a water source and a heat source found. All along the hill of Inveresk, Roman coins have been discovered.  Many other Roman artifacts have been found in the parish.  The parish registery begin in 1607 and have been kept pretty regularly since that period.  The penmanship of many of the early registers is curiously ornate and beautiful.  There has been injury to the bindings of several volumes.  The population in 1792 was 5392, and in 1831 it was 8961.  The land is used for cattle, sheep and the horses commonly used are of the Clydesdale breed. Corn and grass are also grown.  In the parish there is a lot of manufacturing including sail-cloth and hair-cloth, a distillery and tanneries.  In the Established Church there are 5876 members, in the Espiscopalians 153, the Relief 1468, in the Secession 789, the Independents 144, belonging to other denominations there are 112.

This account was written in 1839.

Source: New Statistical Account of Scotland (Family History Librarybook 941 B4sa, series, 2 vol.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 your parish of interest. 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 Inveresk, as well as the library numbers for any surname indexes available.

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]

Years Covered Family History Library Film Number
Births: 1607-1677 - baptisms 1067753

1678-1723 - baptisms 1067754

1723-1805 - baptisms 1067755

1804-1820 - baptisms 1067756

1820-1854 - index 1067757

1838-1854 1067758

1841-1851 - neglected births 1067758

1744-1819 1067758
Marriages: 1606-1814 1067756

1814-1819 1067757

1820-1855 - index 1067759

1746-1747, 1796-1802 1067759 items 1-3
Deaths: 1750-1821 1067757

1820-1849 1067758

1848-1854 - index, burials 1067759 items 1-3
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.  These records may be indexed in the International Genealogical Index, available on in the Historical Record Collections. 
Births: Mothers’ names are not recorded before 1634 and sometimes are omitted until 1636.
Marriages: There are no entries June 1615–July 1620, except one for 1623, December 1622–May 1680. Entries of irregular marriages are of frequent occurrence from 1757 downward.
Deaths: There are no entries August 1763–January 1783. Deaths are recorded until December 1805; burials January 1806–August 1809, after which deaths and burials are recorded.
Source: Key to the Parochial Registers of Scotland, by V. Ben Bloxham, pub. 1970. British Book 941 K23b.

Established Church—Kirk Session Records
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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 1651–1677, 1702–1719, 1757–1961
Marriages 1667–1690
Baptisms 1769–1854, 1858–1954
Scroll Minutes 1855–1948
Poors’ House Directors Minutes 1749–1779
Accounts 1655–1669, 1686–1690, 1719–1740
Collections 1838–1846
Cash Book 1840–1877, 1936–1951
Proclamations 1855–1947
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/531.

Nonconformist Church Records
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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.

Musselburgh Associate Secession Church, Bridge Street[edit | edit source]

In the 1720s a number of persons in Inveresk formed themselves into a praying association in Fisherrow and the members of it were among the earliest acceders to the Associate Presbytery when it formed in 1738. They met at first at Easthouses in the parish of Newbattle. In 1742, after the meeting place was moved to Dalkeith, the society in Musselburgh petitioned the Presbytery to be disjoined, which was refused. At the Breach in1747, most of the seceders in Inveresk sided with the Burghers. They were finally formed as a separate Burgher congregation in 1766. Their first church was built the following year and their second in 1820. In 1794, membership stood at 559, which would include some coming from other parishes. Part of the congregation broke away and formed a separate church in 1843.
Source: Annals and Statistics of the United Presbyterian Church, by Rev. William MacKelvie, D.D., pub. 1873. Family History Library Film #477618. More details may be given in the source including ministers.

Baptismal Roll 1785
Session Minutes 1782–1886
Account Book 1783–1840
Managers’ Minutes 1823–56
Library Borrowing Book 1843
Other post–1855 records
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH3/1495.

Musselburgh Relief Church, Mill Hill[edit | edit source]

About 1783, several members of the parish church of Musselburgh removed themselves due to unhappiness with certain circumstances concerning the minister and his assistant and petitioned the Relief Presbytery of Edinburgh to be formed as a congregation and be supplied with sermon, which was granted. A church was built that year, but they did not obtain a fixed minister until 1786. In 1794, membership was 516. By the mid–1830s membership was counted as 1100 due to an especially popular minister. It dropped somewhat again after he left.
Source: Annals and Statistics of the United Presbyterian Church, by Rev. William MacKelvie, D.D., pub. 1873. amily History Library Film #477618. More details may be given in the source including ministers.

Session Minutes 1803–1919
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, record CH3/241.

Mussselburgh Free Church
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The minister of Inversk parish did not Acome out” in 1843, but four elders and a large number of his members adhered to the Free Church and were at once organized as a congregation. The church was built shortly after the Disruption on a prominent site on the Mall. It was rebuilt in 1889, a clock and tower being added. The introduction of the railway, the growth of Inveresk paper mills, the net factory, and the development of the mining industry all tended to the increase of the population of Musselburgh. In early days many of the Fisher fold attended the Free Church who later were attracted by the Scottish Coast Mission.
Membership: 1859; 1900, 306.
Source: Annals of the Free Church of Scotland, 1843–1900, ed. Rev. William Ewing, D.D., 2 vols. pub. 1914. Family History Library Film #918572. More details may be given in the source including ministers.

Session Minutes 1843–1904
Deacons’ Court Minutes 1848–1866
Cash Book 1839–1859
Communion Roll 1843–1847
Other post–1855 records
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH3/1496.

Musselburgh Congregational Churches
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In 1798 James Haldane addressed a meeting in the Millhill Burgher Church. As a result, forty persons decided to meet regularly every week for fellowship and eventually Sunday services were added. A place of worship was built in 1801 on Fisher Row. A new church was built on Links Street in 1894. This church left the Congregational Union in 1993.
A second congregation was formed in 1839 and built a chapel in Victoria Place in 1843. In 1846 it was in connection with the Evangelical Union. It dissolved in October and reformed in December of that same year and was known as the Musselburgh Independent Secession Church. It eventually disbanded sometime after 1856.
Source: A History of Scottish Congregationalism, by Harry Escott, pub. 1960. Family History Library book 941 K2es.

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

Musselburgh Baptist Church
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A church was formed about 1820 but no history is available. It ceased by 1844.

Extent of records is unknown. For information write to:
The Baptist Union of Scotland
12 Aytoun Road
Glasgow G41 5RT

Musselburgh Episcopalian Church
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A history is unavailable.

Family History Library Call Number
Christenings 1754–1757 941 B2sa vol. 9
Other: Christenings 1821–1854
Note: Available from the minister. Write to:
The Rectory
12 Windsor Gardens
Musselburgh EH21 7LP

Other Nonconformist Churches[edit | edit source]

A Wesleyan Methodist congregation also existed in Musselburgh by 1846, but a history is unavailable and extent of records is unknown.
For information about the Methodist Church in Scotland, try this Internet web site:

Civil Registration Records
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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
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Inveresk was under the probate jurisdiction of the Commissary Court of Edinburgh until 1823, and since then has been under the Sheriff's Court of Edinburgh. 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 Midlothian and the subject of 'Probate records.' Then click on the link to the records of the Commissariat of Edinburgh.

The library also has some post-1823 probate records for Midlothian. Look in the library catalog  for the 'Place-names' of Midlothian and the subjects of 'Probate Records' and 'Probate Records - Indexes.'

Read more about Scotland Probate Records.

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  1. Lewis, Samuel A., A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland (1846), pp. 555-584. Adapted. Date accessed: 11 April 2014.

Return to the Midlothian parish list.