Kelso, Roxburghshire, Scotland Genealogy

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Scotland Gotoarrow.png Roxburghshire Gotoarrow.png Kelso

Kelso (#793)

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


KELSO, a burgh of barony, market-town, and parish, in the district of Kelso, county of Roxburgh, 23 miles (S. W.) from Berwick, and 41 (S. E.) from Edinburgh, containing the village of Maxwellheugh. This place is said to have derived its name, anciently written Calchow, or Calkow, from the chalky cliff on which the original village was situated. The town is finely situated on the north bank of the river Tweed, near its confluence with the Teviot. The church, erected in 1773, and repaired and reseated in 1833, is an octagonal edifice, conveniently situated, and is adapted for a congregation of 1314 persons. An additional church was erected in 1837, on a site to the north of the town. It is a handsome edifice in the later English style of architecture, with a lofty square tower, and contains 877 sittings. The parish also contains an Episcopal chapel, and places of worship for members of the Free Church, Reformed Presbyterians, Original Seceders, Relief, United Secession, the Society of Friends, and Wesleyans: some of these are of very recent erection.[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 Click on ‘Browse scanned pages’ then search the parish reports for Kelso.  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 Scotland Census Records.

Click here for a list of the Family History Library microfilm numbers for the census records of Kelso.

Below is information for any known surname indexes:

Years Surname Index
1841 941.47/B3 X2m 1841
1851 941.47/B3 X2m 1851
1861  941.47/B3 X2m 1861
1881 6086664 ( 3 fiche)

The 1901 census of Scotland is indexed on  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 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

Years Covered Family History Library Film Number
Births: 1598-1745 1067945 item 2-3
1745-1820 1067946
1820-1854 1067947 item 1-3
Marriages: 1597-1819 1067946
1820-1854 1067947 item 1-3
Deaths: 1614-1660 1067946
1798-1813, 1836-1839 1067947 items1-3
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 is a duplicate of portion October 1605–December 1608, and they are incomplete November 1691–1697.
Marriages: There are no entries January 1605–August 1608, March 1629–March 1630 and November 1691–October 1697 and two deleted entries at 1792. After the record for 1819 is a scroll of proclamations 1793–1797.
Deaths: There are no entries except three, September 1657–November 1659. The record ends March 1660, except for three entries for 1839.
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 1622–1628, 1633–1661, 1668–1689, 1692–1749, 1709–1720, 1755–1780, 1795–1798, 1800–1915
Marriages 1696–1698
Proclamations 1840–1845
Consignations 1696–1698
Baptisms 1696–1698, 1840–1845
Testificates 1693–1698
Collections 1696
Scroll Minutes 1723–1724, 1727–1739, 1742–1743, 1809–1820, 1830–1837, 1845–1855
Treasurer's Accounts 1701–1708, 1751–1908
Douglas Fund Accounts (for education of children in Kelso) with other fund accounts 1782–1865
Roll Book 1777–1801
List of Names of Communicants 1834–1876
Funerals 1798–1813
Roll of Heads of Families Communicants 1835–1841
Cartulary 1760–1845
Sabbath School Income and Expenditure 1843–1888
List of Children (young communicants) 1841–1843
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/1173.

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 Lists.

Kelso First Associate Session Burgher Presbyterian Church

In 1739, Seceders in the area of Kelso organized a congregation in the neighboring parish of Stitchel. In October, one of the elders of the Established church, and several private members of the congregation, withdrew and formally acceded to the Associate Presbytery. Due to objections against an appointee to the Established church, 112 persons including 14 elders, also seceded and connected themselves to the church at Stitchel in 1750. Supply of sermon was now afforded to Stitchel and Kelso alternately. In 1753 the two congregations disjoined. A church was built in Kelso in 1787–1788.
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.

                                                  Family History Library Film Number
Presbytery Records  1782–1820    1562919 items 2–3

Records of the Kelso congregation:
Minutes 1753–1754, 1784–1791, 1803, 1820, 1830, 1847–1869
Scroll Minutes 1844–1847
Scroll Minutes of Meetings of Session and Deacons 1844–1847
Baptisms 1836–1850
Managers' Minutes 1761–1842
Money Received 1788–1804
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH3/606.

Kelso Second General Associate Anti-burgher Church, extinct

The members of the congregation at Stitchel who adhered to the General Associate Anti-burgher Synod at the Breach in 1747, erected a place of worship at a village called Hume. They had hoped to assemble with others from Kelso and Earlston, but the others chose to have sermon supplied in their towns. Sermon was supplied every other Sunday, alternating between Kelso and Earlston. Finally in 1777 this congregation formed a junction with the one in Kelso, and the church in Hume was moved to Kelso. Church became extinct about 1843.
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.

                                     Family History Library Film Number
Baptisms   1771–1799    1484432
Marriages   1798            1484432

See also records listed under Earlston in Berwickshire.

Kelso East Relief Church

Due to the great distances that individuals from this area adhering to the principles of the Relief church had to travel to go to church, application for sermon was made to the Edinburgh Presbytery, on the part of several most respectable members of the Secession Church, with other inhabitants of Kelso and its vicinity. This application was made in 1791 and was granted. The church was built in 1793.
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.

Baptisms 1813–1819  (FHL book 941.47/K1 K2m)
Minutes 1825–1867
Baptisms 1824–1853
Marriages 1825–1849
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, records CH3/667and CH3/818.

Kelso East, Sprouston Free Church

The minister of Sprouston parish, and part of his congregation, "came out" in 1843. They worshiped in the old Original Secession Church in Kelso until their new church, in the outskirts of the town, was opened in 1846. The church was renovated in 1882. In 1883, the name of the congregation was changed from Sprouston to Kelso, East.
Membership: 1848, 414; 1900, 221.
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.

Minutes 1843–1906
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH3/1463.

Kelso North Free Church

Dr. Horatius Bonar, minister of the North Church, and his congregation, "came out" in 1843. The church had been built in 1837 in connection with the Church Extension Scheme. The congregation retained it until in 1864 it was claimed by the Established Church. A new church was built and opened in 1867.
Membership: 1848, 360; 1900, 281.
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.

Minutes 1839–1881 (Parish church 1839–1843)
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH3/819.

Evangelical Union Church

The church was formed in 1841 and joined the Evangelical Union in 1871. It met in the Friends’ Meeting House and for many years had no settled minister. John Hunter Rutherford was the first pastor. The church ceased in 1877.
Source: A History of Scottish Congregationalism, by Harry Escott, pub. 1960; Family History Library British Book 941 K2es.

A list of ministers is found in: The Scottish Congregational Ministry, 1794–1993, by Rev. Dr. William D. McNaughton, pub. by the Congregation Union in 1993; Family History Library British Book 941 K2mwd.

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 2BX

Kelso Baptist Church

Although an earlier meeting of Baptists existed in Kelso, the present Church there owes its origin largely to Miss Scott Macdougal of Makerstoun, who was a keen Baptist and zealous for temperance reform. She employed a missionary, Mr. James Work, and by his agency a Church was formed in February 1877, consisting of 10 members. Mr. Work became Pastor and they met in the Baptist meeting house. A church was built in 1878 of stone quarried from Makerstoun Estate.
Source: History of the Baptists in Scotland, by Rev. George Yuille, pub. 1926; Family History Library British Book 941 K2hi Source contains a list of ministers and further information.

Extent of records is unknown. For more information write to:
The Baptist Union Office
Baptist Church House
14 Aytoun Road
Glasgow, G41 5RT

Society of Friends, Quakers, Kelso Monthly Meeting

Friends were meeting near Kelso in 1669 at Stichill. A meeting house existed at Kelso from early in the 1700s. The meeting was discontinued in 1798 though the meeting house continued in possession of the Friends until demolished in 1905. There was a burial ground.
Source: The Quaker Meeting Houses of Britain, by David M. Butler and the Friends Historical Society, pub. c.1999 Family History Library book 942 K24bd, vol. 2.

FHL Film Number
Registers of Births, Marriages, Proposals
of marriage, and deaths1647–1878 - for Edinburgh
and other places in Scotland 0823635
941 V26q
Duplicate of early years 1647–1728 0441406 item 3
Births 1662–1787
Marriages 1749, 1753, 1778 - 3 entries
Deaths 1667–1695, 1795
Meeting Minutes 1748–1791
Visitors to Kelso Meeting 1749–1795
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, record CH10/1/25.

Kelso Catholic Church

A congregation was formed in 1849 but the church was not built and consecrated to the Immaculate Conception until 1854. It was served from Hawick prior to that date. See that parish for records.

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.

Prison Records

A transcription index has been published by Maxwell Ancestry (of Lockerbie, Dumfriesshire) of the following:

  • Kelso Prison Register, 1844-1862    (FHL book 941.47/K1 J62m)

Probate Records

Kelso was under the probate jurisdiction of the Commissary Court of Peebles until 1823, and since then has been under the Sheriff's Court of Jedburgh.  Probate records for 1513- 1901 are indexed online at  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 Roxburgh and the subject of 'Probate records.' Then click on the link to the records of the Commissariat of Peebles.

The library also has some post-1823 probate records for Roxburgh.  Look in the library catalog for the 'Place-names' of Roxburgh 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. 1-22. Adapted. Date accessed: 27 March 2014.

Return to the Roxburghsire parish list.