Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Scotland Genealogy

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Scotland Gotoarrow.png Aberdeenshire Gotoarrow.png Aberdeen

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


ABERDEEN, a city, and sea-port town, the seat of a university, the capital of the county of Aberdeen, and the metropolis of the North of Scotland, 109 miles (N. N. E.) from Edinburgh, and 425 (N. by W.) from London; containing parts of the parishes of Old Aberdeen and Banchory-Devenick. This ancient city, which is, by some historians, identified with the Devana of Ptolemy, is supposed to have derived its name, of British origin, from its situation between the rivers Dee and Don, near their influx into the sea, and from each of which, previously to the diversion of the latter into its present channel, it was nearly equidistant. The city originally constituted the parish of St. Nicholas alone, which was divided by the authority of the Court of Teinds, in 1828, into the six separate Parishes of East, West, North, South, the Grey Friars, and St. Clement. The parish of the East Kirk is situated in the centre of the city. The church, originally the choir of the collegiate church of St. Nicholas, was rebuilt in 1837, it is a handsome structure in the later English style, 86 feet in length, and is separated from the West church, which formed the western portion of the old edifice, by the lofty arches of the tower. Externally, the two churches are connected, and embellished with an elegant facade of granite. There are places of worship for United Secession and Original Burgher congregations, and an episcopal chapel dedicated to St. Paul, erected in 1722. The parish of North Kirk is situated within the town, and is a handsome structure of dressed granite, in the Grecian style, with a lofty tower, and an elegant portico of the Ionic order, erected in 1831. There are a place of worship for Independents, a Roman Catholic chapel, an episcopal chapel dedicated to St. John, and one dedicated to St. Andrew. The parish of South Kirk is situated within the town, was originally a chapel of ease, it was rebuilt in 1831. There are places of worship for members of the United Secession Congregation and for Independents. The parish of the Grey Friars was formerly the conventual church of the monastery of the Grey Friars. It is a very ancient structure, enlarged and improved some years since, and contains 1042 sittings. There is a place of worship for the Society of Friends. The parish of St. Clement is to the south-east of the town, in the district of Futtie, erected in 1787, on the site of an ancient chapel, was afterwards rebuilt, on a larger scale, it is capable of accommodating 1300 persons.[1]

The city of Aberdeen formerly constituted the parish of St. Nicholas alone, which in 1828 was divided into the six separate parishes of East, West, North, South, the Greyfriars, a former ancient monastery, and St. Clement.  See also Old Machar parish.

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.

Archives and Libraries

The Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire Archives has put the catalogue to their collection on the Internet. Their collection of genealogical value includes:

  • Records of the poor relating to Aberdeenshire, Morayshire, Banffshire and Kincardineshire
  • School records for Aberdeenshire, Morayshire, Banffshire, Kincardineshire and Aberdeen City
  • Burial records for some City cemeteries, as well as some in Aberdeenshire
  • Registers of shipping and sea fishing vessels for the Port of Aberdeen
  • Aberdeen Burgh records: Council minutes from 1398, Register of Sasines (including Town Clerk’s Protocol Books) from 1484 -1809, Register of Deeds from 1569, Apprentice Registers from 1622, and Register of Burgesses from 1632. 
  • Records for other burghs in Aberdeen and Moray shires.
  • Kirk Session records for St. Nicholas, St. Clement’s, St. Clement’s Free, John Knox, Langstane and Greyfriars parishes in Aberdeen
  • Congregational, Episcopal and Methodist Church Records for a number of congregations in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire
  • Tax lists from as early as the 15th century 
  • Valuation Rolls and Registers of Electors

Some burial records in their collection have been digitized and are searchable at http://www.deceasedonline.com/.

The Aberdeen City Library has a local studies collection that includes:

  • Parish and local histories
  • Biographies and family history
  • Education, literature and architecture sources
  • Local authority minutes and development plans
  • Electoral and valuation rolls
  • Newspapers and Periodicals
  • Directories
  • Maps
  • Photographs

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.

Click Census records for Aberdour 1841-1891; The 1881 census of Aberdeenshire has been completely indexed by surname.  Click here[low quality link] to go to the library catalog entry for the index.

The 1901 nd 1911 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, 1841-1911, 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 Family History Library Film Number
Births: 1563-1591, 1602-1631 0991133
1631-1672 0991134
1672-1704 0991135
1704-1771 0991136
1771-1820 0991137
1820-1842 0991199
1843-1855 0991200
1793-1847 (East Church) 1068235 item 7
Marriages: 1568-1686, 1695-1776 0991138
1776-1819 0991139
1788-1819 (Dissenters*) 0991139
1804-1819 (various churches*) 0991139
1820-1844 0991201
1845-1856 0991202
1820-1831 (St. Clement) 0991202
1839-1859 (North Church) 1068225 items 5-7
1839-1859 (East Church) 1068226 items 1-6
1839-1844 (South Church) 1068226 items 7-8
1841-1859 (South Church) 1068227 items 1-5
1839-1845 (West Church) 1068227 items 6-8
1846-1859 (West Church) 1068228 items 1-3
1839-1849 (Greyfriar's) 1068228 items 4-8
1850-1859 (Greyfriar's) 1068229 items 1-2
1839-1841 (St. Clement's) 1068229 items 3-4
1844-1854 (St. Clement's) 1068229 items 5-7
1854-1859 (St. Clement's) 1068230 item 1
Deaths: 1560-1687 0991198
1789-1819 0991198
1793-1820 (St. Clement's) 0991198
1820-1854 0991203
1820-1854 (St. Clement's) 0991203
1846-1855 (South Church) 1068235 item 5
1813-1852 (neglected entries) 0991204

Marked with asterisk (*):  These marriages performed by ministers of churches other than St. Nicholas, including those of Dissenters. Many marriages were performed in private homes rather than a church.

Condition of Original Registers

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 records for July 1699–December 1700, December 1703–January 1706, except for five entries in 1705 and April 1707–November 1713.  There are only two entries for May 1714–March 1719 and three entries April 1721–March 1725.  It is again blank for August 1725–February 1726 and January 1733–May 1734.  It is defective for January 1753–October 1754.  There are many irregular entries during 1790–1820.

Marriages: Except for eight entries dated between May and July 1703, the record is blank December 1700–April 1734.  It is also blank April 1740–July 1742 and October 1751–May 1786. From the latter date to February 1790, the entries occur among the births for the same period.  The record is blank February 1790–January 1817, except for one entry in 1813, from which date a separate record is again kept. 

Deaths:  Burials for March 1787–October 1790 are recorded among the births and marriages.  There is a separate record for December 1790–May 1793.  The record is blank 1793–January 1817 after which the record is resumed on occasional pages of the baptismal register.  It is blank for 1826–1847.

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 he 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:

St. Nicholas
Minutes 1562–1563, 1568, 1573–1578, 1602–1624, 1629–1640, 1651–1922
Scroll Minutes 1739–1744, 1749–1926
Accounts 1768–1896
Cash Books 1845–1890, 1897–1937
List of recipients of money allocated from the Communion Collections 1839–1846
Note: Available at the Aberdeen City Archives, Aberdeen, Scotland, record CH2/448.

St. Clement
Minutes 1828–1965
Various Accounts 1845–1897
Scroll Minutes 1828–1839, 1849–1954
Note: Available at the Aberdeen City Archives, Aberdeen, Scotland, record CH2/1369.

East Kirk, St. Mary’s Chapel
Minutes 1828–1914
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/741.

Gilcomston Chapel
Minutes 1834–1852
Cash Book 1814–1850
Seat Rent Book 1821–1845
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/1487.

Greyfriars Church
Minutes 1828–1890
Note: Available at the Aberdeen City Archives, Aberdeen, Scotland, record CH2/492.

Roll of Male Heads of Families

An 1834 list of male heads of families in this parish can be found here.

John Knox Mounthooley
Communicants Rolls 1839–1842, 1846–1863, 1866–1987
Managers’ Minutes 1836–1896
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/1493.

South Church                   Family History Library Film Number
Marriages 1850–1866          0304659 item 1
Deaths 1846–1865              0304659 item 1

Union Terrace Chapel of Ease (Bon Accord Free Church after 1843)

Various Minutes 1828–1848
Communion Roll 1829–1835
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/908.

Woodside North
See Woodside Free Church, in the list of Nonconformist churches, for records.  

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 List.

Click here for a list of Aberdeen city nonconformist churches and their records.


Post office directories are available online through the National Library of Scotland, each one is in a PDF format that can be downloaded or one can view it online.

Post Office directories: 1824-1912


War Memorial for WWI and WWII located at the Ruthrieston Church, Aberdeen, Scotland (Courtesy of Colin Milne)


1885 Scottish Burgh MapsAberdeen Eastern Section | Aberdeen Western Section: Courtesy of London Ancestor


There were 3 workhouses in this county:

A description with drawings and photos of them today along with databases of those living there from the 1881 Census are provided on the links above located on the site entitled "The Workhouse: The Story of an Institution" which is owned and operated by Peter Higginbotham.

Probate Records

Aberdeen 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 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 Aberdeen and the subject of 'Probate records.' Then click on the link to the records of the Commissariat of Aberdeen.  Ancestry.co.uk also has many probate records for Scotland and Scottish people indexed from 1861-1941

The library also has some post-1823 probate records for Aberdeen. Look in the library catalog for the 'Place-names' of Aberdeen 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: 12 June 2014.

Return to the Aberdeenshire parishes list.