Nigg, Ross and Cromarty, Scotland

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Parish  # 78

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

History[edit | edit source]

NIGG, a parish, in the county of Ross and Cromarty, 2 miles (N.) from Cromarty; containing the village of Shandwick. The name appears to have been corrupted from the word Wigg, by which the parish is called in some ancient records; and this word is thought to be a derivation of the Saxon Wich, signifying "a bay or harbour." The church, built in 1626, underwent extensive repairs in 1725 and 1786, and accommodates 425 persons. The members of the Free Church and United Secession have places of worship.[1]

In some old records of the parish, the name is spelled Wig and Wigg. It is probably of the same origin as the names of the parishes of Uig and Wick. Bailey, in his Etymological Dictionary says, that Wick or Vich is a Saxton word for bay or harbor.

It is bounded on the south-east by the Moray Firth; on the south and west by the Cromarty Firth; and on the north by the parishes of Logie Easter and Fearn. The Sands of Nigg ( name given to a large bay of the Cromarty Firth) belong partly to the parish of Nigg and partly to the parish of Logie Easter, a small rivulet (named Pot) being the boundary.

Cromarty and Tain are the nearest market-towns.

The first era to which reference can be made, in the history of this parish, is the tenth and eleventh centuries, in which the Danish invasions took place. There is a tradition, that the daughter of the royal Scandinavian having married the Thane of Ross, was so ill used by her husband, that she ran to complain to her father, and that he and his three valiant sons, and all his mighty men of war, came to avenge the cause of the injured countess.

The next era in the history of this parish, of which there is any account, is the year 1179, when William, surnamed the Lion, King of Scotland, caused a castle to be built on the top of the rock fronting Cromarty. The object of its erection is said to have been the suppression of robbers; and from this, it is supposed to have got its name Dunscath in Gaelic, Dunskeath in English.

About the middle of the seventeenth century, a Sir John Sinclair, in Caithness, became proprietor of the lands of Culiss and Wester Rarichie. This led to the introduction into the parish, of various individuals of the name of Gunn, from the boundary that separated Caithness from Sutherland. The people of the parish called them “Na Gallich,” the Caithness men.

Three important events have occurred at various periods since 1694, that have had marked effects on the identity and character of the population. The first was the seven years of famine between 1694 and 1701. During that time, many died of want, the rich became poor, the lands changed their occupants, and the whole face of society was changed.

The second event is the cruel and unchristian settlement of a minister, in 1756. The people subsequently became true Seceders under the ministry of Mr. Buchanan from Perthsire.

The third event is the introduction of the large farm system, and the improvement of the soil to raise crops.

The landowners are, Charles Cockburn Ross of Shandwick; Sir Charles Ross, Bart. of Balnagown; Robert Mitchell of Bayfield; Hugh Ross of Cromarty; William Murray of Westfield; Mrs. Taylor of Nigg and James Taylor, Esq. her husband; and George Ross of Pitcalnie.

The population of the parish in 1801 was 1443 people, and by 1831, the last count, was 1404.

There are few sheep in the parish, and these consist of Southdown, Cheviot, and the small country kind. In the rocks of Castlecraig, there are goats that feed on herbs, which no other animals can approach. There is little attention paid to the rearing of black cattle. Wheat is the farmer’s mainstay, and the quality in general is excellent.

The parish church is not more than four miles from any extremity of the parish. The church appears to have been built in 1626, and affords legal accommodation for 425 persons, and all the sittings are free, though formally divided among the heritors. 

The session records of the parish commence on the 17th of December 1705. They have not in general been well kept, and some of them were accidentally burnt. They consist of three volumes, there are sessional records of an older date; but they have been lost.

This account was revised September 1836.

Source: New Statistical Account of Scotland for Nigg, FHL book 941 B4sa, series 2, vol. 14.

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 you are interested in. 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 Nigg as well as the library numbers for any surname indexes available:

FHL Film Number
Surname Indexes

6037266 (6 fiche)




6086658 (4 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 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]

Record Type Years Covered FHL Film Number
Birth: 1730-1854  0990657 item 2
Marriage: 1730-1854  0990657 item 2
Death: No entries none

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 October 1836–May 1750, except one for 1747 and November 1751–September 1779, only two entries 1772–1776. After November 1783 except for six irregular entries 1773–1791, there are no baptisms recorded until 1801. Record commencing at the latter date contains many entries applicable to previous years, some of them reaching back to about 1780.
Marriages: There are no entries December 1734–November 1735, October 1736–November 1747, and March 1750–April 1777. There are only two marriage entries October 1779–May 1782 and except for four entries for 1783–1787, December 1782–December 1801.
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 1705–1709, 1729–1736, 1778–1841
Poor Fund Accounts 1788–1844
Minutes 1844–1978
Certificates Anent Lairs (plots) in Burying Ground 1810–1849
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, records CH2/1438.

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.

Nigg Free Church[edit | edit source]

The minister and the whole congregation "came out" in 1843. The church was built in 1844 and renovated in 1880 when a hall was added. The manse was erected in 1849. The population eventually decreased greatly.
Membership:1853, 167; 1900, 90.
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.

Baptismal Register 1843–1922 The Highland Family History Society has published the baptisms 1843-1922, Marriages 1898-1899, and Deaths 1895-1900. It can be purchased from them and also is available at The Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah British Book 941.16 K2fnc
Other post-1855 records
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH3/1434.

The Register is held in Highland Council Archives, Inverness, Scotland (Reference CH3/143/4).  Other Records held for Nigg Free Church include the following:

Minutes 1855-1923 & Communion Roll 1866-1922

Decons Court Minutes 1910-1948

Collections 1882-1965

The Highland Family HIstory Scoiety has published The Nigg Free Church records of Baptisms 1843-1922, Marriages 1898-1899, and Deaths 1895-1900.

The Family History Library has a copy of this publication

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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Nigg was under the probate jurisdiction of the Commissary Court of Ross until 1823, and since then has been under the Sheriff's Court of Ross & Cromarty. 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 Ross & Cromarty and the subject of 'Probate records.' Then click on the link to the records of the Commissariat of Ross.

The library also has some post-1823 probate records for Ross & Cromarty. Look in the library catalog  for the 'Place-names' of Ross & Cromarty 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: 1 August 2014.

Return to Ross & Cromarty parish list.