Rosemarkie or Fortrose, Ross and Cromarty, Scotland

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Rosemarkie or Fortrose

Parish # 80

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

History[edit | edit source]

ROSEMARKIE, a parish, in the Mainland district of the county of Ross and Cromarty, 11 miles (N. N. E.) from Inverness; containing the burgh and late quoad sacra parish of Fortrose. This place is supposed to have derived its name, signifying in the Gaelic language "a headland or promontory, and the resort of mariners," from the elevated situation of its church on the shore of the Moray Frith. The church, erected on the site of the ancient edifice about the year 1821, is a spacious and handsome structure in the later English style, and contains 800 sittings. A church to which an adjacent district of the parish was annexed quoad sacra by act of the General Assembly, has been raised in the town of Fortrose, where are also an episcopal chapel, a place of worship for members of the Free Church, and one for Baptists.[1]

The original name of the parish was Rosmarkyn, and is supposed to be of Gaelic etymology, composed of Ros, signifying a promontory or headland, and Maraichin, seamen. The parish lies along the north side of the Moray Firth, bounded by the parishes of Resolis and Cromarty; on the north and north-east, and on the west, by the parish of Avoch.

The town of Rosemarkie, though no large, is of considerable antiquity. It was erected into a royal burgh by Alexander, King of Scotland, probably Alexander II. The town of Chanonry was united to the burgh of Rosemarkie by a charter granted by King James II., anno 1444, under the common name of Fortross, which charter was ratified by King James VI., anno 1592; and confirmed in a still more ample form by the same monarch in the year 1612.

The principal proprietors, are, Roderick Mackenzie, Esq. of Flowerburn; James Fowler, Esq. of Raddery; Evan Baillie, Esq. of Dochfour and Ethies; Sir James W. Mackenzie of Scatwell, Bart.; the Rev. R. M. Millar of Kincurdie; and Malcolm Maclean, Esq. of Hawkhill.

The population in 1755 was 1140 persons, and by 1838 there were 1813 persons living in the parish.

The origin of the parish church in the ancient town of Rosemarkie, was founded by St. Boniface. On the same site where the church had stood for centuries, was erected a modern edifice. It is large and commodious, having been built for at least 800 sitters. With few exceptions the bulk of the more remote parishioners in the county part, may be said to be within three miles of the church. Besides the parish church, the only other place of public worship is an Episcopal chapel, in Fortrose, a mile from Rosemarkie.

The loss of some of the old registers, by accident or carelessness, and the negligence of the people in former times, in registering the births of their children, these records do not extend far back, and are somewhat incomplete, previous to the induction of the present incumbent, in the year 1815. Since then, the session records of births, marriages, deaths, and poor’s funds, have been regularly kept.

This account was drawn up May 1839 and revised February 1840.

Source: New Statistical Account of Scotland for Rosemarkie, 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
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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 Rosemarkie as well as the library numbers for any surname indexes available:

FHL Film Number
Surname Indexes
6037266 (6 fiche)
6206400 (4 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
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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 FHL Film Number
Birth: 1744-1854 0990658 item 1
Marriage: 1739-1854 0990658 item 1
Death: 1775-1854 0990658 item 1


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: Entries are irregular and incomplete prior to 1792 and 1796–1809. Births are regularly kept from 1815. Duplicate of portion 1815–1819 preceded by irregular entries on ten pages, dated 1748–1826. There is a separate register of dissenters 1814–1822.
Marriages: There are only a few entries prior to 1797 at which date the regular record begins. There is one entry 1798–1805 and one for 1808. Marriage records are regularly kept after 1815 and there is a duplicate of the portion 1815–1818.
Deaths: There are only a few entries before 1809.
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 1737–1781 (pages 1–24 missing), 1815–1935
Register of Male Heads of Families 1837–1897
Money Book 1810–1916 (last 11 pages missing)
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/811.

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.

Fortrose Free Church[edit | edit source]

The minister and congregation of Fortrose quoad sacra church "came out" in 1843. They continued to use the church until April 1844. A church was built in 1845. A new church was erected and opened in 1898. A house was purchased for a manse in 1851. This was later sold and a new manse erected in 1883.
Membership:1848, 64; 1900, 137.
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.

Family History Library Film Number
Baptisms 1843–1855 1068236 Available through Familysearch

The Highland Family History Scoiety has published the Fortrose Free Church Baptisms 1844-1855 and 1874-1929 for purchase.

The Family History Library has a copy of this publication of Fortrose Free Church Baptisms 1844-1855 and 1874-1929

The first part of the register is held by The National Archives of Scotland (Reference MR 42/1)

The second part of the register is held by Highland Council Archives, Inverness, Scotland (Reference CH3/768)

Minutes 1843, 1868-1931

Deacon's Court Minutes 1844-1933

List of Communicants 1882-1891

Communion Roll 1884-1908

UF Communicants Roll 1908-1929

Baptismal Roll 1875-1965

Fortrose Baptist Church[edit | edit source]

The congregation was founded in 1805 by David McRae who had left the Congregational Church and joined the Baptists. He served as Fortrose's first minister. Fortrose was the most northern Baptist congregation in Scotland. It died out about 1890 after the death of its last minister.

The extent of records is unknown. Contact:
Baptist Union of Scotland
Baptist Church House
14 Aytoun Road
Glasgow, G41 5RT

Fortrose Episcopalian Church[edit | edit source]

The New Statistical Account of Scotland for Rosemarkie 1840, states that an Episcopalian chapel was built at Fortrose some time since. The congregation was very small at that time.

The extent of records is unknown. Write to the church at:
St. Andrew's Rectory
1 Deans Road
Fortrose IV10 8TJ

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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Rosemarkie 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.