Liberton, Midlothian, Scotland Genealogy

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Parish #693

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

History[edit | edit source]

LIBERTON, a parish, in the county of Edinburgh, 2 miles (S. S. E.) from Edinburgh; containing the village of Morton, part of New Craighall, and the late quoad sacra parish of Gilmerton. This place, supposed to have been originally called Lepers' town, from an ancient hospital for lepers, of which the memorial is retained in the name of the lands near the site, is of considerable antiquity. The church, erected in 1815, is a handsome structure with a lofty embattled tower, forming an interesting object in the landscape, and contains 1430 sittings. A church, to which a quoad sacra parish was till lately annexed, was erected at Gilmerton in 1837. The members of the Free Church have a place of worship and a school.[1]

     The name of Liberton was formerly written Libertun, and is of Saxon origin, and may have come because it was near a hospital for the sick of Edinburgh.  All traces of the hospital have vanished.  The surface is very undulating and beautiful.  The parish is intersected by two rivulets, by which eight  water mills are driven.  The parochial registers being in 1639 and have been kept regularly since.  They were recently rescured, repaired, and handsomely bound and put in a fire-proof charterchest.  Mr. Clement Little of Upper Liberton, founded the College Library of Edinburgh.  The church of Liberton is a very handsome Gothic structure, with a fine tower in a commanding situation, and was erected in 1815 from a plan by James Gillespie Graham, Esq.  The population of the parish in 1786 was 3457, and in 1831 was 4063.  The suspension of coal-work at Gilmerton has decreased the population since 1831.  The land is primarily used for potatoes, turnips, wheat, barley grass, oats, horses, pigs, coal, beans, line, and wool from sheep.  There are twenty hamlets in the parish and the largest of these is Gilmerton.  Edinburgh and Dalkeith are the the two closest market places.  There is no dissenting place of worship in the parish and most of the people profess to belong to the Established Church.  In 1836, 2873 persons belonged to the Estabished Church with 689 said to be Dissenters but a few who called themselves Dissenters were in fact heathens.  There are no Papists.

This account was written in 1839.

Source: New Statistical Account of Scotland (Family History Library book 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
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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 Liberton, 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
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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: 1624-1771 - baptisms 1067782

1771-1819 - baptisms 1067783

1819-1854, 1842-1849 - baptisms 1067784 items 1-2
Marriages: 1631-1819 1067783

1819-1854, 1842-1849 - neglected entries 1067784 items 1-2
Deaths: 1647-1783 - burials 1067783

1783-1819 - burials 1067784 items 1-2
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: There are no entries except one, July 1650–October 1651. Mothers’ names are not recorded until September 1625.
Marriages: Except one page containing entries July 1631–April 1632, there is no record until July 1654. There are no entries September 1681–May 1683 or January 1684–December 1685. After February 1689, there is a register for the meetinghouse of Craigmillar, May 1688–September 1710, a number of the leaves being partially destroyed. The regular record then begins at September 1710. After 1819 there are transcribed entries of irregular marriages January 1765–May 1783.
Deaths: There are no entries May 1689–March 1691. There is a duplicate or copy of portion June 1765–July 1801, the original of which has suffered much from dampness. The record throughout bears the fee paid for the Mortcloth. On the title page of the portion beginning 1704, however, it is described as a register of burials.
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 1639–1689, 1697–1929
Miscellaneous Minutes 1710–1713
Collections 1738–1801
Testimonials 1690–1700
Cash and Account Books 1755–1913
Deacons Court Minutes 1844–1865
Includes Gilmerton Kirk Session Minutes 1838–1843
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/383.

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.

Liberton Free Church
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For Dr. Begg, minister of Liberton parish who “came out” at the Disruption, a church was built at Newington. Walter Fairley, minister of the church at Gilmerton and his congregation also adhered to the Free Church. At first they worshipped in a hall in Gilmerton. A church was erected in the village of Stenhouse and opened in 1844. A new church and manse were built at Northfield in 1870, halls being added later. In 1856 with the consent of the assembly both Gilmerton and Liberton were included in the district assigned to the congregation and the name of Gilmerton, hitherto borne, was changed to Liberton.
Membership: 1847, 115; 1900, 288.
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.

Minutes 1843–1855
Deacons Court Minutes 1844–1865
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH3/1170.

Various Dissenters
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In 1836, there were said to be 689 dissenters within the parish but there were no places of worship. Therefore, they would have worshiped in neighboring parishes.

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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Liberton 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. 175-197. Adapted. Date accessed: 11 April 2014.

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