Penicuik, Midlothian, Scotland Genealogy

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Parish #697

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

History[edit | edit source]

PENICUICK, a parish, in the county of Edinburgh; containing the hamlets of Howgate, Nine-Mile-Burn, and Kirkhill, 9 miles (S. by W.) from Edinburgh. The present name of this place is supposed to be derived from a British or Gaelic word signifying "Cuckoo's hill;" and as several places in the neighbourhood also received their epithets from this bird, it is probable that it was a frequent visiter in these quarters. The church is a neat structure in the Grecian style, with a chaste portico of four Tuscan columns supporting a pediment with architrave and entablature; it was built in 1771, and is in good repair. It formerly accommodated only 500 persons; but in 1837, 300 sittings were added and in 1845 two additional galleries were erected. There are a place of worship for members of the Free Church, and two for the United Associate Synod.[1]

 The name of this parish is said to signify, in Gaelic, the Cuckoo's hill.  This parish seems, of old, to have been dedicated to St. Mungo, whose memory still lingers about a copious spring, hard by the church.  How, or when, the worthy saint became connected with the parish is not known.  About 1810, extensive paper manufactories were turned by Government into depots for prisoners of war and the cottages attached to them into barracks for the military.  The paper-mills of Valleyfield were fitted for the reception of 6000 prisoners, while those of Eskmills accommodated 1500 British soldiers.  This was very unfavorable to the social and religious well-being of the parish.  At the close of the war in 1814, the mills happily returned to their former owners and purposes.  The records of the parish registers begin in 1654 and continue to the present time (1839).  The population in 1801 was 1705, and in 1835 was 2286.  The land is primary used for cattle, sheep, and paper making.  1434 people are of the Established Church, 852 are Dissenter, chiefly of the Secession body, and there are not 10 Roman Catholics in the parish.

This account was written in 1839.

Source: New Statistical Account of Scotland (FHL 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 Penicuik, 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: 1654-1818, 1769-1818 - index 1067788items 3-5

1819-1854 - baptisms 1067789
Marriages:   1654-1819 1067788 items 3-5

1819-1854 1067789
Deaths: 1658-1760 - burials 1067788 items 3-5

1759-1855 - gurials 1067789
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 April 1655–December 1656, December 1662–August 1665, September 1666–May 1670, and August 1674–February 1712. After February 1766 is a register of Dissenters’ children, October 1735–June 1757. Regular record has no entries February 1766–December 1770, except three in 1767–1769. Irregular entries are frequent after 1780.
Marriages: Except for entries of marriage and a few transcribed entries relating to proclamations 1654–1655, there is no record until October 1658. Record for 1663–1673 is intermixed with other matters. There are no entries March 1673–December 1674, December 1677–April 1702, December 1777–October 1786, and August 1793–May 1794. Record is mainly contracts or proclamations for 1775–1810. After 1819, there are transcribed entries of irregular marriages for 1731–1807.
Deaths: Except for 1673–1677, there are only transcribed entries of Mortcloth Dues, funeral expenses, etc., before March 1745 when the record of burials begins. There are no entries August 1783–June 1784.
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 1654–1662, 1674–1685, 1708–1798
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/297.

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 Lis

Penicuik Associate Anti-Burgher Church
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The congregation, also called Bridgend, originated with members of the congregation of West Linton, resident in and about Penicuik, who desired a place of worship more favorably situated for them. In 1782, they applied to the Associate Presbytery of Edinburgh for supply of sermon which was granted. A church was built the same year and a new church was opened in 1867.
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.

Various Minutes 1788–1905 - with gaps before 1823
Accounts 1782–1937
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH3/749.

Howgate General Associate Anti-Burgher Church[edit | edit source]

This congregation originated with members of the congregations of Dalkeith and West Linton who adhered to the General Associate Anti-burgher church while the majorities of these congregations adhered to the Associate Burgher Synod at the Breach in 1747. A church was built in Howgate in 1751. A new church was built in 1856.
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.

Extent of record is unknown. None are deposited at the National Archives.

Penicuik Free Church[edit | edit source]

The minister of the parish had identified himself with the Non-Intrusion party up to a certain point but he did not “come out” in 1843. The people adhering to the Free Church were organized as a congregation. A church was built and opened for service in October 1844. A school and schoolhouse were built in 1845 and a manse in 1847. A new church was erected in 1861. The preaching station at Carlops was under the charge of Penicuik session until it became a sanctioned charge.
Membership: 1848, 180; 1900, 473.
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.

Extent of records is unknown.

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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Penicuik 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.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Lewis, Samuel A., A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland (1846), pp. 351-367. Adapted. Date accessed: 11 April 2014.

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