St. Boswells, Roxburghshire, Scotland Genealogy

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St. Boswells

Boswells (#804)

This parish was formerly Lessudden

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

History[edit | edit source]

BOSWELL'S, ST., a parish, situated in the district of Melrose, county of Roxburgh, 4 miles (S. E.) from Melrose; containing the village of Lessudden. This place derives its name from its church, which is supposed to have been first founded by St. Boswell, abbot of Melrose. The church, situated at the eastern extremity of the parish, was built near the site of a more ancient structure which had fallen into decay, and probably about the year 1652; it was enlarged and thoroughly repaired in 1837, and affords accommodation to 430 persons. A place of worship has been erected in connexion with the Free Church.[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 Boswells.  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 St. Boswells.

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 Register[edit | edit source]

Years Covered FHL Film Number
Births: 1692-1854 1067951 item 3-4
Marriages: 1697-1825, 1830-1854 1067951 item 3-4
Deaths: 1784-1854 1067951 item 3-4
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 also be indexed in other FamilySearch collections for Scotland.
Births: Records are irregular about 1784–1785. Mothers' names are not recorded until 1783.
Marriages: There are no marriage entries December 1782–January 1787, August 1789–July 1791, from which date until 1825 there are only transcribed entries of proclamation fees, and no entries 1825–1830.
Deaths: Burials until January 1795 then Mortcloth Dues are recorded, 1796–1854. There are also burials October 1819–August 1820.
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 1691–1694 - few leaves, 1719–1753, 1837, 1849, 1857, 1870–1900
Accounts 1719–1760
Scroll Minutes 1717–1736, 1738–1778, 1744–1787 and some fragments
List of Communicants 1836–1851
Accounts and Receipts, 19th and 20th Century
Miscellaneous Papers 1786–1947
Papers Relating to Claims for Enrollment in Freeholders' Rolls 1832–1839
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/318.

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.

St. Boswells Free Church[edit | edit source]

This congregation was formed at the Disruption. For some months public worship was held in a barn on the Green. The church was built and opened July 1844. Flooring was added later. The farmers carted the stones; Miss Binnie, Dryburgh, presented the bell, and W. Smith of Riddleton Hill the organ, in memory of his wife. The feu was purchased with a legacy left by Miss Kay in 1881. The manse was built in 1854, and the vestry in 1862.
Membership: 1848, 150; 1900, 192.
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 1843–1940
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH3/823.

Newtown St. Boswells Associate Session Church[edit | edit source]

This church originated in three members of the First Congregation, Selkirk, residing in Newtown and elsewhere, who were desirous of having a place of worship in their own connection more conveniently situated for them. They applied for and obtained supply of sermon from the Associate Burgher Presbytery of Kelso in 1771. A church was built in 1772 and a new one was built in 1868.
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.

Minutes 1844–1949
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH3/835.

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]

St. Boswells 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  catalog for 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. 124-151. Adapted. Date accessed: 27 March 2014.

Return to the Roxburghshire parish list.