Duffus, Moray, Scotland Genealogy
This is a guide to the history and major genealogical records of Scotland as they pertain to the parish of Duffus. To learn more about how to use these records to search for your ancestors, go to the Scotland: Research Strategies.
- 1 History
- 2 Census Records
- 3 Church Records
- 4 Civil Registration Records
- 5 Land and Property
- 6 Probate Records
- 7 References
DUFFUS, a parish, in the county of Elgin; including the villages of Burgh-Head, Cummingston, Hopeman, and the hamlets of Roseisle, College of Roseisle, and Old Roseisle; 5 miles (W. N. W.) from Elgin. The name of Duffus is supposed to be derived from the Gaelic word Dubuist, signifying the black lake, in reference to the lake of Spynie, now drained, or to some other lake of which there is no trace left. The church, situated at some distance from the population, at the eastern extremity of the parish, is an old and ill-constructed edifice, and of unsightly appearance, but with a very picturesque and ancient porch; it was repaired in the year 1782, and is in good condition. There is a chapel of ease at Burgh-Head, where are also two Secession meeting-houses; and near Kaim is an episcopal chapel.
This parish, the name of which is supposed to be derived from the Gaelic word, “Dubuist” signifying “black lake,” and having reference to the lake of Spynie. Duffus is bounded to the north by the sea, and on the other points by the adjoining parishes of Drainie, New Spynie, and Alves.
This parish is distant about three miles (at the south border) from Elgin, the market, post, and county town, with which it enjoys easy communication by means of a turnpike road at its west, and a good commutation road at its east end. Duffus, Hopeman, Burghead, and Port-Cumming are the principle villages in the parish of Duffus.
The principal land-owners in the parish are, Sir Archibald Dunbar of Northfield, Baronet, and his eldest son Archibald Dunbar, Esq. to which family half the parish belongs; Sir William Gordon Cumming of Altyre and Gordonstown, Bart.; Charles L. Cumming Bruce, Esq. of Roseinle and Kinnaird; William Stuart, Esq. of Inverugie; Thomas Brander, Esq. of Roseislehaugh; and William Young Esq. of Burghead.
The whole resident population of the parish of Duffus in the year 1662, inferred from the average number of baptisms in that and the two succeeding years, as compared with those of 1831, was 1482 souls; and they appear to have resided chiefly in the four villages of Burghead, Roseisle, Kaim, and Kirktown, and in the hamlets of College, Buthill, starwood, Inskiel, and Unthank. The population in 1801 was 1389, in 1811, 1623, and in 1821, the count was 1950.
There are three kinds of fishing carried on in this parish, viz, the salmon, herring, and the white fisheries. Shell-fish are not abundant, but the supply of all the ordinary varieties of white fish is plentiful and excellent. About eighty boats are generally congregated in autumn for the herring, and ten boats employed during the year at the white fishing.
The parish church, (of which Sir A. Dunbar of Northfield is patron,) is very inconveniently situated at the eastern extremity of the parish; which evil, however, is less felt, since the erection of a chapel of ease at Burhead. There is a chapel of ease to the Established church situated at Burghead, the clergyman of which is paid partly by the seat rents, and partly by the Society for Propagating Christian Knowledge and the Committee for managing the Royal Bounty. There is a Secession meeting-house in the village of Burghead, but not always open, from the scantiness and poverty of the congregation. An Episcopalian chapel, near Kaim, is attended by a very limited by respectable congregation. Fully three-fourths of the population however attend the Established Church; and twelve families are Episcoplians. The number of communicants at the parish church is about 400. There is no mention made in this account of parish records.
This account was written April 1835.
Source: The New statistical Account of Scotland for Duffus, Family History Library book 941 B4sa, 2nd series, vol 13.
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 edina.($) Click on ‘Browse scanned pages’ then search the parish you are interested in. Also available at the Family History Library..
A Brief History of the Parish of Duffus. A brief history of Duffus with a list of landowners and dates. Also listed are candidates as Elders of the Church in 1843, illustrated with hand drawn maps of Duffus Parish about 1450 and 1750. Article covers years 1097-1846. The Land and People of Moray pt 19, 2004 pages 1-10, Family History Library Ref. 941.23 H2b pt.19.
A census is a count and description of the population, taken by the government, arranged by locality and by household. Read more about census records.
Here is a list of the Family History Library microfilm numbers for the census records of Duffus as well as the library numbers for any surname indexes available:
|| Family History Library Film Number
|| Surname Indexes|
|| 6086568 (2 fiche)|
The 1901 census of Scotland is indexed on scotlandspeople.($) 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.
A Brief History of the parish of Duffus. A history of Duffus including a list of candidate elders in 1846, with hand drawn maps of Duffus about 1450 and 1750, also facsimilies of abstracts of Censuses 1801 and 1811, and 1821 housed in the National Archives of Scotland, facsimile of description of Duffus and page from the Kirk Session Minutes 26 July 1791 showing distributions to the poor. Article covers years 563-1846. Article in The Land and People of Moray. pt 18, 2004, pages 1-14. Family History Library Ref. 941.23 H2b pt 18.
Kirtoun of Duffus, New Duffus, and Burnside. A history of these towns giving a list of some pre-census inhabitants showing name, date, residence, relation ship. Also a list of residents moved from old Kirktoun to the new village of Duffus, 1811.Hand drawn maps of area about 1750 and 1825. Article covers years 1512-1880. Article in The Land and People of Moray. pt. 18, 2004 pages 15-38, Family History Library Ref. 941.23 H2b pt. 18.
Shempston, Old Duffus, Duffus Castle and Waterton. A brief history of Duffus Castle and nearby lands including a list of some of the pre census inhabitants giving name, date, residence, relationship, illustrated with hand drawn map of the area about 1750, and a facsimile description of Duffus Castle published in 1785. Covers years 1151-1846. Article in the Land and People of Moray. pt 18 2004, pages 39-45, Family History Library Ref. 941.23 H2b pt. 18.
Keam, Begrow, Philaxdale, Mossyards and Unthank. A brief description of the farm towns including a list of some of the pre census inhabitants, giving name, date, residence, relationship with a hand drawn map of the area about 1750. Article covers years 1534-1846. The Land and People of Moray, pt. 18, 2004 pages 46-55, Family History Library Ref. 941.23 H2b part 18.
Buthill, Bridgend, Inchkeil, Outlet, Kirkhill, Starwood, Standingstone and Longhillock. A brief history of the area including a list of some of the pre - census inhabitants, illustrated with had drawn maps about 1750 and 1773. Article covers years 1632-1846. The Land and People of Moray pt. 18, 2004. pages 56-65, Family History Library Ref. 941.23 H2b pt. 18.
Roseisle, College of Roseisle, Oldtown of Roseisle. A brief history of the village and lands of Roseisle with a list of some of the pre census inhabitants giving name, date, residence, or reason for being mentioned. Illustrated with a hand drawn map of Roseisle about 1773 and a facsimile page of horse tax records of 1797. The Land and People of Moray, pt. 19. 2004, pages 11-22. Family History Library Ref. 941.23 H2b pt.19
Burghead. A history of Burghead with a list of pre-census inhabitants giving name, date residence, illustrated with maps of Burghead in 1749, the new harbour, 1801 and new town of Burghead 1808. Facsimiles of pages from the Kirk Session Miutes 20 Dec. 1830. History of fishing from Burghead, with names and year of folk, who lost their lives in the fishing industry. Article covers years 400-1854, The Land and people of Moray. pt. 19, 2004, pages 23-52. Family History Library Ref. 941.23 H2b pt. 19.
Hopeman, Cummingston, Inverugie and Clashach. A brief description and history of these new towns with a list of some of the pre-census inhabitants giving name, date, residence, illustrated with a hand drawn map of Hopeman and Cummingston about 1815. Article covers years 1805-1880. The Land and People of Moray. pt 19, 2004, pages 53-56, Family History Library Ref. 941.23 H2b pt.19.
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|
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: There are no entries for October 1632–January 1662. The entries are numbered but sometimes erroneously. There are no birth entries for April 1694–May 1699. Numbering of entries ceased in March 1716. The records are rather irregular and defective for 1721–1724 and 1752–1754. Entries are frequently out of chronological order throughout, and after 1780 there are a good many inserted and marginal entries.
Marriages: Numerous entries appear to be missing because the first entry is numbered 248. Some entry numbers are erroneously repeated. One series of numbers terminates in March 1694 when another begins, ending at January 1716. There are no entries for January 1733–May 1739, August 1753–October 1754, April 1758–August1759, and December 1765–June 1782. There are only three entries for March 1785–March 1797 and only three for October 1800–November 1821.
Deaths: Several entries appear to be missing since the numbering starts with #531 in 1662 and continues’ to #2187 in May 1694. A new series of numbers then begins, continuing to #767 in April 1716 when the record ends.
Source: Key to the Parochial Registers of Scotland, by V. Ben Bloxham, pub. 1970. Family History Library BritishBook 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 and Accounts 1742–1781, 1839–1951
Cash Book 1782–1845
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/96.
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.
Burghead Free Church
The minister and many of his people joined the Free Church in 1843. For about a year they continued to worship in the parish church. When they were forced to leave that building, they met outdoors and then in a granary before they could build a church and manse.
Membership: 1848, 274; 1900, 289.
Source: Annals of the Free Church of Scotland, 1843 1900, ed. Rev. William Ewing, D.D., 2 vols. pub. 1914. Family History Library Film #918572. More details are given in the source.
Extent of the records is unknown.
Hopeman Free Church
Residents of the eastern part of the Burghead congregation obtained separate services and met in a school in Hopeman. In 1852 they built their own church, and the charge was sanctioned in 1856.
Membership: 1858, 135; 1900, 437.
Source: Annals of the Free Church of Scotland, 1843 1900, ed. Rev. William Ewing, D.D., 2 vols. pub. 1914. Family History LibraryFilm #918572. More details are given in the source.
Extent of the records is unknown.
Burghead United Presbyterian Church
Burghead is a village on the Moray Firth in the parish of Duffus. By 1821 the United Presbyterian faith had about 700 followers in this area but no house of worship. The charge was sanctioned in 1822 and a church erected. In 1861, the congregation built a new church.
Source: Annals and Statistics of the United Presbyterian Church, by Rev. William MacKelvie, D.D., pub. 1873. Family History Library Film #477618
Extent of the records is unknown.
Duffus Episcopal Church
Lewis's Topographical Dictionary of Scotland 1846 notes the existence of an Episcopal congregation near the village of Kaim (or Keam). However, no records or history is available, and no church exists there now. This chapel may have been short-lived.
Extent of the records is unknown. None may exist.
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.
Land and Property
Duffus was under the probate jurisdiction of the Commissary Court of Moray until 1823, and since then has been under the Sheriff's Court of Elgin. Probate records for 1513- 1901 are indexed online at scotlandspeople ($). 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 Moray and the subject of 'Probate records.' Then click on the link to the records of the Commissariat of Moray.
The library also has some post-1823 probate records for Moray. Look in the library catalog for the 'Place-names' of Moray and the subjects of 'Probate Records' and 'Probate Records - Indexes.'
Read more about Scotland Probate Records.
- Lewis, Samuel A., A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland (1846), pp. 499-514. Adapted. Date accessed: 27 June 2014.
Return to Moray parish list.