Melrose, Roxburghshire, Scotland Genealogy

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Melrose (#799)

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


History[edit | edit source]

MELROSE, a market-town and parish, and anciently a burgh of barony, in the district of Melrose, county of Roxburgh; including the villages of Buckholmside, Darlingshaugh, Darnick, Gattonside, Newstead, and Newtown; 7 miles (N. W. by N.) from Jedburgh, and 36 (S. E. by S.) from Edinburgh. This place derived its ancient name, Mullross, of which its present is only a slight modification, from the Gaelic words Mull or Moel, bare, and Ross, a promontory, descriptive of its position on a peninsula formed by the river Tweed, and which at that remote period was literally a barren and rugged rock. The town is pleasantly situated on the banks of the Tweed, over which is a handsome suspension-bridge for foot passengers and single horses. The church, erected in 1810, is situated on Wear hill, a little to the west of the town. There are a Free church, and two places of worship for the United Associate Synod, one of them in the town, and the other in a romantic dell through which the Bowden rivulet flows into the Tweed.[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 Melrose.  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 Melrose. 

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 Family History Library Film Number
Births: 1642-1723 1067948 item 7
1723-1854 1067949
Marriages: 1642-1723 1067948 item 7
1723-1855 1067949
Deaths: 1669-1702 see below
1734-1741, 1781-1854 1067949
1760, 1763-1781 0304667 item 10
Condition of Original Registers[edit | edit source]

Indexed: 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 be indexed in the International Genealogical Index. 
Births: There are no entries April 1686–November 1690. From 1723–1738 the record is intermixed with other matters. Mothers' names are not recorded until 1698.
Marriages: There are no entries December 1650–August 1651, November 1656–May 1659 and April 1666–November 1690 except four for 1657. The records from December 1723–January 1739 are among baptisms for the same period. After June 1723 the record is with few exceptions, one of the persons "booked for marriage".
Deaths: Mortcloth Dues for 1669–1702 were published by the Scottish Record Society Family History Library book 941 B4sr, vol. 45, p. 463; film 0844776. There are more Mortcloth Dues until 1741, after which deaths are recorded. Record is blank 1741–1763, except for one entry for 1760.
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 1642–1660, 1668–1686, 1690–1721, 1741–1912
Collections and Disbursements 1690, 1702, 1711–1726, 1745–1852, 1852–1911
Accounts of Robert Moffat's Mortification 1761–1787
George Aillie's Mortification 1775–1787
Moffat's and Aillie's Mortificatin Accounts 1817–1820
Langshaw School Mortification Accounts 1839–1867
Communion Roll 1822–1867

Personal Details of Schoolmasters within the Presbytery of Chairnside 1768–1842
Minutes of Schoolmasters' Meetings 1830–1879
Population of Melrose Parish 1831
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/386.

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.

Melrose Free Church, St. Aidan's[edit | edit source]

The parish minister did not "come out" in 1843; but a Free Church congregation was formed at the Disruption. A site was given free by Miss Douglas of Old Melrose – afterwards Mrs. Pringle Pattison, who laid the foundation stone of the church. It was opened in November 1843. A school was provided in 1844. The manse was built in 1846. A new church was erected in 1852. The congregation was considerably reduced by the emigration of residents; a loss not counterbalanced by the influx of tourists and summer visitors.
Membership: 1848, 325; 1900, 251.
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 1843–1946
Deacons’ Court Minutes 1844–1946
Accounts 1843–1857
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH3/805.

Melrose United Associate Congregation[edit | edit source]

This congregation originated with 103 persons, some of whom were members of Newtown, Earlston and Galashiels, who petitioned the United Associate Presbytery of Selkirk for supply of sermon The 15th of May 1821, which was granted, and the church congregated the 26th of November 1822. A church was built in 1823 and a new church was opened in 1867. It was enlarged and improved in 1872.
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.

Congregational Minutes 1822–1825
Managers’ Minutes 1822–1939
Communion Roll 1846 and earlier–1871
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH3/904.

Newtown Associate Burgher Presbyterian Church[edit | edit source]

This congregation originated with three members of the First congregation, Selkirk, resident in Hawkslee, Dryburgh and Newtown, who were desirous of having a place of worship in their own connection more conveniently situated for them than the one they were accustomed to attending. They applied for and obtained supply of sermon from the Associate Burgher Presbytery of Kelso, 1771. Church built 1772. A new church was opened in 1868.
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.

Extent of records is unknown.

Melrose Evangelical Union Church[edit | edit source]

The church in Melrose was formed in March 1842. A chapel was opened in September 1842 and a new place of worship in 1878. The congregation joined the Evangelical Union in 1883 and it was closed in 1930.
Source: A History of Scottish Congregationalism, by Harry Escott, pub. 1960; Family History Library British Book 941 K2es.

Extent of records is unknown. For more information 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]

Melrose 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 catalogfor 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. 244-255. Adapted. Date accessed: 27 March 2014.

Return to the Roxburghshire parish list.