Peterhead, Aberdeenshire, Scotland Genealogy

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Parish #232 (and Blackhill)

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

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PETERHEAD, a burgh of barony, sea-port, and parish, in the district of Buchan, county of Aberdeen; containing the villages of Boddam and Burnhaven, and the late quoad sacra district of East Peterhead, 32 miles (N. N. E.) from Aberdeen, and 145 (N. E. by N.) from Edinburgh. This place, formerly called Keith-Inch, anciently belonged to the family of the Keiths, earlsmarischal of Scotland, of whom George, the fifth earl, and founder of Marischal College, Aberdeen, built the town, which he also erected into a burgh of barony. There are two harbours, separated by the isthmus which connects Keith-Inch with the main land, and which, as the extreme eastern headland on this coast, renders them, in a national view, most valuable as harbours of refuge for vessels navigating the German Sea. The parish church, erected in 1803, is a handsome structure of granite, with a spire 118 feet high, and contains 1863 sittings. A church built in 1767, in the eastern part of Peterhead, was purchased in 1834, and repaired and improved; and in 1836 a portion of the town was assigned to it as a quoad sacra parish, under the designation of the East Church: the building contains 702 sittings. There is also an episcopal chapel, a fine structure, erected in 1814; and members of the Free Church, the United Secession Synod, Independents, and Wesleyans, have places of worship.[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 Peterhead as well as the library numbers for any surname indexes available:

Family History Library Film Number
Surname Indexes
6086502 (12 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
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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]

Record Type
Years Covered
Family History Library Film Number




Condition of Original Registers—
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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: The leaf containing records January–June 1674 is very imperfect, also the leaf March–December 1683. Record is blank from latter date to July 1685. There is probably a leaf wanting after May 1738. The regular record is blank September 1783–1794. There are, however, 186 entries, on as many detached slips of stamped paper, dated between 1759 and 1794; and the record commencing at the latter date contains numerous irregular entries applicable to previous years, from 1740, downwards. The record after 1820 also contains many irregular entries of an earlier date. Mothers; names are not recorded.
Marriages: There are two imperfect leaves and probably a leaf wanting, after December 1666. Record is blank February 1764–December 1796, except two entries 1793 and 1794.
Deaths: Record of burials blank 1679–1804; but there are entries of Mortcloth Dues 1734–1756, which to some extent supply the defect. The record after 1804 was kept by the sexton.
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 1673–1695, 1734–1755
Poor’s Accounts 1759–1882
Accounts 1726–1836, 1843–1866
Session Clerk’s Memo Book 1838–1843
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/300.

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.

Peterhead First United Presbyterian Church[edit | edit source]

This congregation originated with members of the Anti-burgher congregation of Clola, resident in and about Peterhead, who finding it inconvenient to travel between those places weekly, applied to the Presbytery to be formed into a separate congregation, which was allowed in 1790. Church built in 1794. After the resignation of the minister in 1815, that position remained vacant until the union of the two great branches of the Secession in 1820, at which time the remaining members of the congregation congregation.Their place of worship was sold to the Independents. 
Annals and Statistics of the United Presbyterian Church, by Rev. William MacKelvie, D.D., pub. 1873. Film #477618. More details are given in the source.

No known Records.

Peterhead Second United Presbyterian Church[edit | edit source]

This congregation originated in a dispute which arose among the members of the First congregation. Forty–three members applied for and obtained supply of sermon from the Associate Burgher Presbytery of Perth in 1799. Church built in 1800. Second church built in 1858.
Source: Annals and Statistics of the United Presbyterian Church, by Rev. William MacKelvie, D.D., pub. 1873.Film #477618. More details are given in the source.

No known Records.

Peterhead St. Peter’s Free Church[edit | edit source]

The minister and congregation of St. Peter’s Chapel of Ease “came out” in 1843. The church, built in 1842, was just ready for occupation at the Disruption, and it was opened as a Free Church. A split in the congregation issued in the formation of a new charge, the South Free Church, sanctioned in 1875.
Membership: 1848, 807; 1900, 470.
Source: Annals of the Free Church of Scotland, 1843–1900, ed. Rev. William Ewing, D.D., 2 vols. pub. 1914. Film #918572. More details are given in the source.

No known surviving records.

Peterhead Independent Congregational Church[edit | edit source]

A church was formed in 1823. Eventually a chapel was purchased in Windmill Street which had been built by the Anti-burgher congregation.
Source: A History of Scottish Congregationalism, by Harry Escott, pub. 1960. Family HL Book 941 K2es, pages 254–7. Includes further details on each congregation plus a list of ministers. See also Family History Library Book 941 K2mwd.

The extent of Records is unknown. For information, write to:
The United Reformed Church Synod of Scotland
340 Cathedral Street
Glasgow G1 2BQ

Peterhead Baptist Church[edit | edit source]

A congregation was formed in 1840 with a meeting place at Longside.

The extent of Records is unknown. For information, write to:
Baptist Union of Scotland
12 Aytown Road
Glasgow G41 5RT

Peterhead Methodist Church[edit | edit source]

The Methodist cause may have been established in Peterhead as early as the 1770's. The first chapel was opened in about 1817. Membership about 1840 was much less than 200, the capacity of seating in the chapel. The society or church was still in existence in 1947. There appears to be no church there today.

The extent of Records is unknown. For information, write to:
Methodist Archives and Research Centre
John Rylands University Library of Manchester
150 Deansgate
Manchester M3 3EH

Peterhead Episcopal Church[edit | edit source]

This congregation was established in 1689. The chapel was erected in 1814. Membership: 1843, 1172 with about 700 communicants, by another account, 1400 to 1500 members.
Source: History of the Scottish Episcopal Church, by John P. Lawson, pub. 1843. No copy is available in the Family History Library.

Family History Library CALL NUMBER
Baptisms 1738–1788 941.25/P1 V26p X
Note: The X means the records have been extracted.

Peterhead, St Mary's Roman Catholic Church[edit | edit source]




Note:Available online for a fee, at , Edinburgh, record MP

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.

Directories[edit | edit source]

Courtesy of the National Library of Scotland, Post Office Directories are avilable online. The directory available for Peterhead is:

1853: These are available in either PDF format or viewable online.

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

The library also has some post-1823 probate records for Aberdeen. Look in the library catalog  for the 'Place-names' of Aberdeen.
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: 19 June 2014.

Return to Aberdeenshire parish list.