Dirleton, East Lothian, Scotland Genealogy

From FamilySearch Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search

Scotland Gotoarrow.png East LothianGotoarrow.png Dirleton

Parish #705

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


DIRLETON, a parish, in the county of Haddington; including the villages of Fenton and Gulane, 2½ miles (W. S. W.) from North Berwick. This place, anciently called Golyn, a Gaelic term signifying a small lake, derived that appellation from a sheet of water near the village of Gulane, which has long been drained. The parish is bounded on the north by the Frith of Forth, and on the south by the small river Peffer. The church is a substantial and handsome edifice, erected in 1612, and repaired within the last few years; it is well situated for the accommodation of the parishioners, and adapted for a congregation of 600 persons. The members of the Free Church have a place 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 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 record is a count and description of the population, taken by the government, arranged by locality and by household. Read more about Scotland Census Records.

Here is a list of the Family History Library microfilm numbers for the census records of Dirleton, as well as the library numbers for any surname indexes available.

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 Scotland Church Records.

Here are the pre-1855 records that exist for this parish.

Established Church—Old Parochial Registers


Event Type Years Covered FHL Film Number
Births: 1683-1854 - baptisms 1067795 item 3-6
Marriages: 1683-1742, 1759-1854 1067795 item 3-6
Deaths: 1830-1854 - burials 1067795 item 3-6
Duplicate: bapisms, marriages, and burials 1067796 item 1
Condition of Original Registers—

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: Births and marriages are intermixed prior to 1683. Births are blank July 1693–February 1698, and December 1702–January 1713 excluding five entries for 1707. Mothers’ names not recorded until February 1698.
Marriages: Records are blank December 1690–May 1698, February 1700–June 1705, November 1705–February 1713, and June 1748–May 1759. The leaves of the record 1713–1759, are all more or less imperfect, and the greater part of the leaf after October 1760 has been destroyed.
Deaths: “Mortcloth Dues” until 1703; then record is blank until 1830, after which there are burials.
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 Kirk 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:

                                              FHL Film Number
Church Minutes    1664–1736    1067795 item 3–6
Minutes and Accounts 1655–1658, 1703–1727, 1737–1787
Register of Deaths 1783–1792
Minutes 1806–1817 - lists of poor included 1817–1843, 1848–1911
Excerpts from Minutes 1655–1845 with reference to the poor fund
Accounts 1752–1805
Kirk Session Funds 1822–1845, 1847–1903
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/1157.

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.

The New Statistical Account of Scotland for Dirleton 1836 states that there were 87 dissenters within the parish at that time and they attended services in North Berwick or elsewhere.

Dirleton Free Church

The minister of the parish “came out” in 1843. The congregation worshiped for a time in a barn at Castlemains. A site was speedily secured, and a church erected.
Membership: 1848, 180; 1900, 190.
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 a list of ministers.

                                                              FHL Film Number
Session Minutes           1844–1932           1484191 item 2–3
Communion Roll            1843–1896           1484191 item 2–3


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

Dirleton was under the probate jurisdiction of the Commissary Court of Edinburgh until 1823, and since then has been under the Sheriff's Court of Haddington.  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 East Lothian and the subject of 'Probate records.' Then click on the link to the records of the Commissariat of Edinburgh.

The library also has some post-1823 probate records for East Lothian. Look in the library catalog for the 'Place-names' of East Lothian 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. 280-297. Adapted. Date accessed: 04 April 2014.

Return to the East Lothian parish list.