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Scotland Gotoarrow.png Angus Gotoarrow.png Oathlaw

Parish #315

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



OATHLAW, Finhaven, or Finavon, a parish, in the county of Forfar, 5 miles (N. by E.) from Forfar. The original name of this parish appears from ancient documents to have been Fyniven or Finavon; but no precise account can be given, of the time or cause of its change to Oathlaw. It is supposed, however, upon the authority of an old record, that a chapel formerly stood upon some property called Oathlaw, and that, when the ancient church of Finavon fell to decay, this chapel, being used as the church, gave the name of the estate on which it was situated to the whole parish. The appellation Finavon is compounded of two Gaelic words, Fin, signifying "white or clear," and Avon or Aven, signifying "a water or a river." The church is a neat building with a finely proportioned tower, situated about the centre of the parish, and surrounded by a number of old ash trees; it was built in 1815, is in tolerable condition, and seats upwards of 200 persons.[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 http://edina.ac.uk/stat-acc-scot/. Click on ‘Browse scanned pages’ then search the parish reports for your parish of interest. Also available at the Family History Library.

Census Records

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 Oathlaw, as well as the library numbers for any surname indexes available:

FHL Film Number
Surname Indexes
941.31 X22a 1851
6086580 (12 fiche)

The 1901 census of Scotland is indexed on www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk. 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

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

Record Type Years Covered FHL Film Number
Births: 1717-1854 0993502
Marriages: 1717-1854 0993502
Deaths: 1720-1742 0993502

1783-1790 0993502


Condition of Original Registers—

Indexed: For an index to these records, see the Scottish Church Records Index available on computers at the Family History Library and family history centers.  The records may be indexed in the International Genealogical Index.
Births: Births are intermixed with marriages and other matters prior to 1742. There is a duplicate of a portion 1732–1740. Births are intermixed with marriages from 1742 and are blank December 1742–December 1745. Two pages of the record 1745–1747 are greatly deteriorated and there is a duplicate of the portion 1747–1779. Records are blank October 1766–May 1768 and June 1769–April 1771 and defective 1777–1783. Mothers' names recorded in entries 1720–1746, but often omitted 1747–1784.
Marriages: Marriages are intermixed with births and other matters prior to 1742. There is a duplicate of the portion 1732–1740 and records are intermixed with births from 1742. The records are blank December 1742–December 1745 and two pages of the record 1745–1747 are greatly deteriorated. There is a duplicate of the portion 1747–1779. Records are blank October 1766–May 1768, and June 1769–April 1771 and are defective 1777–1783.
Deaths: Mortcloth Dues prior to 1730 and burials from 1730. The death records are blank April 1742–October 1783, after which the entries are intermixed with births and marriages.
Source: Key to the Parochial Registers of Scotland, by V. Ben Bloxham, pub. 1970. British Book 941 K23b.

Established Church—Kirk Session Records

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 1716–1751, 1772–1840
Book of Discipline 1808–1860
Communion Roll 1849–1859
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/287.

Nonconformist Church Records

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.

No known nonconformist groups.  Also see Tannadice parish.

Civil Registration Records

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

Oathlaw was under the probate jurisdiction of the Commissary Court of Brechin until 1823, and since then has been under the Sheriff's Court of Dundee. Probate records for 1513- 1901 are indexed online at www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk. 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 Angus and the subject of 'Probate records.' Then click on the link to the records of the Commissariat of Brechin.

The library also has some post-1823 probate records for Angus. Look in the library catalog for the 'Place-names' of Angus and the subjects of 'Probate Records' and 'Probate Records - Indexes.'

Read more about Scotland Probate Records.


  1. Lewis, Samuel A., A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland (1846), pp. 499-514. Adapted. Date accessed: 6 June 2014.

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  • This page was last modified on 24 June 2015, at 16:27.
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