Dunnichen, Angus, Scotland Genealogy

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Scotland Gotoarrow.png Angus Gotoarrow.png Dunnichen

Parish #283

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


DUNNICHEN, a parish, in the county of Forfar; including the villages of Bowriefauld, Cotton of Lownie, Craichie, Drummetermont, and Letham; 3½ miles (E. S. E.) from Forfar. This place, which is of considerable antiquity, derives its name, signifying in the Gaelic language " the hill or fort of the valley," from a prominent hill overlooking the vale of Lunan, and on which are still some remains of an ancient fort of loose stones. The church, seated on an eminence in the small hamlet of Kirkton, was erected in 1802, but from the dampness of the situation, and the bad construction of the roof, which was covered with flags of sandstone, it was found necessary, in 1817, to cover it with a new roof of slate; it is a plain edifice adapted for a congregation of 456 persons. There are places of worship for members of the Free Church and Congregationalists; the linen-hall of the village of Letham is also appropriated as a place of worship by Seceders.[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 Dunnichen, as well as the library numbers for any surname indexes available:

Family History Library Film Number
Surname Indexes
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
Family History Library Film Numbers

1856-1877 - burials
1068238 item 5


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 are intermixed with marriages until 1741. Pages of record prior to 1741 are severely damaged. Records are blank except for two imperfect pages 1711–1714 and four pages April 1738–July 1741 and September 1708–November 1747, after which are separate records for births and marriages. Records are blank April 1758–June 1760. Mothers' names are not recorded until June 1692 and again omitted 1747–1758.
Marriages: Marriages are intermixed with births until 1741.
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 1777–1896
Accounts 1763–1808
Communion Roll 1839–1903
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/108

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.

Letham United Presbyterian Church

The Associate Burgher Presbytery of Perth fixed upon Letham as a preaching station, 1792, and continued supply of sermon until 1802, when it was discontinued for want of encouragement. A place of worship which had been built in the interim, passed shortly afterwards into the hands of the Independents. Letham was again fixed upon as a preaching station by the United Associate Presbytery of Arbroath in 1820, and this time with greater success. In 1833, about 60 persons attended services and a church was built in 1838.
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


Record Type Years Covered Family History Library Film Number
Baptism: 1850-1856 0304671 item 17
Baptism: 1839-1856 0889475 item 2
Marriages: 1839-1856 0889475 item 2
Session Minutes: 1839-1861 0889475 item 2
Communion Roll: 1850-1854 0889475 item 2

 Other: Congregational and Managers Minutes 1827–1874
Accounts 1833–1838
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH3/213

Dunnichen Free Church

The minister of the parish and many of his people came out in 1843. They secured for a time the use of the chapel at Letham. Their own church was erected in 1845. It has been several times renovated. The manse was built in 1860. There was a division in the congregation during the ministry of Dr. Gardner and at his retirement in 1850 it was reduced to a station. In 1851 sanction was restored. The congregation suffered through the passing away of handloom weaving, and also through the decrease in the population of the rural districts.
Membership: 1848, 100; 1900, 191.
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.

Various Minutes 1843–1894
Communion Roll 1844–1852
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH3/897.

Letham Congregational Church

A Congregational church was constituted at Letham in the parish of Dunnichen in 1803. The New Statistical Account of Scotland, dated December 1833, FHL book 941 B4sa Ser. 2, vol. 11 pt. 2, states that about 20 persons attended at that time. However, the members always struggled to maintain a minister, and the congregation was dissolved in 1886.

The extent of records is unknown. For more information write to:
The United Reformed Church Scottish Synod Office
PO Box 189
240 Cathedral Street
Glasgow G1 2BQ

== 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

Dunnichen 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: 30 May 2014.

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