Haddington, East Lothian, Scotland Genealogy

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Scotland Gotoarrow.png East LothianGotoarrow.png Haddington

Parish #709

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


HADDINGTON, a burgh, market-town, and parish, in the county of Haddington, of which it is the capital, 16 miles (E.) from Edinburgh, and 373 (N.) from London. This place, of which the name is of very uncertain derivation, is of unquestionable antiquity, though, from the repeated destruction of its ancient records. The town is pleasantly situated on the Tyne. The church, supposed to have been built in the 14th century, is a venerable and elegant cruciform structure in the decorated English style, with a lofty square embattled tower. A handsome chapel of ease was erected in 1838. There are also an episcopal chapel, and places of worship for members of the Free Church, the Old Light Seceders, members of the United Secession, Independents, and Wesleyans.[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 Haddington, 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: 1619-1674 - baptisms 1067799 item 3-4

1674-1785 1067800

1785-1819, 1820-1854 - indexed 1067848
Marriages: 1619-1622 1067799 item 3-4

1622-1842 1067848

1820-1854 1067849 item 1
Deaths: 1619-1622 - burials 1067799 item 3-4

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: Entries are tabulated prior to September 1622. The upper portion of the leaf at January 1646 has been destroyed. The record is blank May 1646–September 1650 and there are only two entries March 1710–January 1711. There is a small volume containing entries February 1713–March 1724, many of which are embraced in the larger record for the same period, it is indexed from 1720 to about 1780.
Marriages: Prior to July 1622, the entries are recorded in parallel of the register of births. After 1686 the fact of marriage is seldom recorded.
Deaths: Burials are recorded in parallel columns of the register of 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 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:

Minutes 1629–1631, 1640–1703, 1711–1729, 1781–1861
Baptisms 1653–1658
Testimonials 1658–1661, 1704–1710
Scroll Minutes 1704–1707, 1711–1715
Copy Minutes 1733–1736
Accounts 1667–1668, 1675–1685, 1703–1723, 1728–1734, 1743–1745
Poors’ Fund Minutes and Accounts 1724, 1744, 1754–1756, 1784–1819
Certificates of Marriage 18th and 19th century
Disbursements 1724–1728, 1734–1735
Treasurer’s Accounts 1736–1738, 1748–1739, 1753–1779, 1784–1894
Collections for Poor 1748–1781
Collections 1781–1818
Scroll Accounts 1852–1862
Seat Rent Book 1781–1810
Communion Roll 1834–1836, 1847–1850
Miscellaneous Papers 1731–1912, 17 Item
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/799.

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.


Haddington First Secession Associate Burgher, later East United
Presbyterian Church

A number of praying societies in East Lothian acceded to the Associate Presbytery in March 1737. They were united in a General Association and designated “The Correspondence of East Lothian.” They were publicly recognized as a congregation in connection with the Presbytery in October of that year. In February 1741, this association was further increased by the accession of three elders and forty private members who had withdrawn from the Established Church. The congregation worshiped in the open air and in barns until 1742–1743 when they took possession of a place of worship which they had erected for themselves, with Haddington being the seat of the congregation. A second church was built on the same site in 1765. The minister, along with the minority of the congregation, adhered to the General Associate Anti-burgher Synod at the Breach in 1747, while the majority adhered to the Associate Burgher Synod. The minister and minority withdrew and formed the Second Secession congregation (see below). The majority called a new minister.
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 including a list of ministers.

                                                                                                              FHL Film Number
Baptisms                                      1851–1885                                           6903210
Session Minutes                            1741–1852 - with baptisms .                  0889475 item 1
Session Minutes                            1852–1903 - with baptisms 1851–1872   1484620 item 2

Haddington Second Secession General Associate Anti-burgher
Church, later Knox’s Free Church =

This congregation was formed by a minority of the First Secession congregation of Haddington, consisting of 12 elders, 6 deacons, and a part of the congregation, who adhered to the General Associate Anti-burgher Synod at the Breach in 1747. They worshiped for some time in the open air but in 1752 bought a malt barn and had it fitted up as a church. In 1805, the minister and the majority of his congregation withdrew from the General Associate Synod and helped to form the Constitutional Presbytery, which later merged into the Synod of Original Seceders. The majority retained the church property and the minority withdrew and formed the Third Secession church of Haddington (see below). The Original Secession congregation joined the Free Church in 1852, taking the name of “Knox’s Free Church.” At the death of the minister in 1871, the congregation was dissolved and the members joined with St. John’s Free Church (see below).
Sources: Annals and Statistics of the United Presbyterian Church, by Rev. William MacKelvie, D.D., pub. 1873. Film #477618. also: 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 sources including lists of ministers.

                                                          FHL Film Number
Session Minutes          1852–1876       1484620 item 3

Haddington Third Secession, later West United Presbyterian Church

When the minister and majority of the Second congregation withdrew from the General Associate Synod in 1805, the minority formed the Third congregation and eventually purchased the former Relief Church property. This congregation apparently became part of the United Secession Church in 1820 and then part of the United Presbyterian Church in 1847. It is assumed they rejoined the Church of Scotland in 1929.
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 including a list of ministers.

The extent of records is unknown.

Haddington Relief Church

When the parish minister of Haddington died in 1790, some of the parishioners objected to his replacement. They withdrew from the Established Church, built a place of worship, and applied to and obtained supply of sermon from the Relief Presbytery of Edinburgh. A congregation was soon organized. After the resignation of their second minister in 1800, the congregation declined and at length became extinct. The property was sold to the Messrs Haldane of the Independents. When they became Baptist, the property was sold to the West Secession congregation.
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 including a list of ministers.

The extent of records is unknown.

St. John’s Free Church

Dr. Lorimer, senior minister of the parish church, and sixty or seventy of his people, along with the minister of the quoad sacra church of St. John’s, and the great majority of his members including all the elders, adhered to the Free Church in 1843. All were united in one congregation under the joint pastorate of the two ministers. They worshiped in St. John’s Church until it was claimed by the Established Church in 1849, after which it long stood vacant. A church and manse were built on an adjacent feu. The Original Secession Church of Haddington joined the Free Church in 1852, and became known as “Knox’s Free Church.” In 1872 it was dissolved, and thence forward the Free Church in Haddington was represented by one strong congregation. A mission hall was built in 1878. A new church and hall were erected in 1890. The old church and manse were sold in 1896, when a new manse was purchased.
Membership: 1848, 475; 1900, 319.
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.

The extent of records is unknown.

Haddington Independent Church

This congregation was formed in 1804 by 16 members of the North College Street congregation in Edinburgh who lived in the Haddington area and wanted to worship closer to home. The former Relief Chapel at Westport was purchased for them, but they removed from it about 1808. From 1815, they worshiped in a chapel on Hardgate Street. The congregation ceased to meet in 1878. An Evangelical Union church was formed in Haddington in 1848, but it was short lived.

Source: A History of Scottish Congregationalism by Harry Escott, pub. 1960. Source includes a list of ministers. FHL book 941 K2es

Extent of pre–1855 records is unknown. Contact:
The United Reformed Church, Scottish Synod Office
PO Box 189
240 Cathedral Street
Glasgow G1 2BX, Scotland

Haddington Methodist Church

A Methodist chapel was built in Haddington in 1816. It closed by 1835 due to debt and was sold about 1841. No history of the congregation is available.

The extent of records is unknown. For information write to:
Methodist Archives and Research Centre
John Rylands University Library of Manchester
150 Deansgate
Manchester M3 3EH

Haddinton Episcopal Church

A chapel existed by 1835. A history is unavailable.

For extent of records, write to:
The Rectory
Church Street
Haddington EH41 3EX

Haddington Roman Catholic Church

Haddington was served from Edinburgh from 1830. A Haddington church was formed by 1853. The church was consecrated to St. Mary in 1866. No further history is available.

Baptisms 1853–1881
Marriages 1853–1881
Note: Available online for a fee, at www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk, Edinburgh, record RH21/86.

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

Haddington 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.

Read more about Scotland Probate Records.


  1. Lewis, Samuel A., A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland (1846), pp. 527-539. Adapted. Date accessed: 04 April 2014.

Return to the East Lothian Parish List.