Ratho, Midlothian, Scotland

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Scotland Gotoarrow.png Midlothian Gotoarrow.png Ratho

Parish #698

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


RATHO, a parish, in the county of Edinburgh; containing the village of Bonnington, 7 miles (W. by S.) from Edinburgh. The name of this parish is supposed to be derived from an ancient British word signifying "a bare or plain place," originally used in reference to a conspicuous spot in the parish, on which a mansion stands. The church, supposed to have been built about 1683, stands north of the village, and is encompassed with thick foliage, through which it is partially seen by the traveller. It was originally a long and narrow ordinary building, with the pulpit in the centre; but an addition was raised to accommodate altogether 800 persons. The members of the Free Church have no place of worship.[1]

     The name of this parish is of British origin, being derived from the word Rhath, plural is Rathau which signifies a cleared spot, a bared place or plain.  The parish registers begin in 1692 but have not be regularly kept and regularly.  The population in 1792 was 825, and in 1838 it was 1454.  The land is used primarily for wheat, rye-grass, sheep, cattle, potatoes, turnips, oats, and barley.  There are two villiages in the parish, Ratho and Bonnington.  The nearest market town is Edinburgh.  There are 1286 people in the parish that belong to the Established Church, and 132 Seceders, 17 are Episcopalians, and 19 are Roman Catholics.

This account was written in 1839.

Source:New Statistical Account of Scotland (Family History Library book  941 B4sa, series 2 vol. 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 Ratho, as well as the library numbers for any surname indexesavailable.

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

Years Covered Family History Library Film Number
Births: 1682-1689, 1738-1854 - baptisms 1067790 items 1-3
Marriages: 1741-1855 1067790 items 1-3
Deaths: 1682-1689 - burials 1067790 items 1-3
Condition of Original Registers

Index: 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 be indexed in the International Genealogical Indexs. 
Births: The record prior to 1689 is a copy. There are no entries March 1689–August 1738. An entry for April 28, 1788 is pasted on a page of the register. Mothers’ names not recorded until March 1685.
Marriages: The register is described as one of marriages, but the entries record the proclamations only.
Deaths: Record is transcribed entries of Mortcloth Dues.
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 1682–1947
Accounts 1692–1722, 1760–1786, 1844–1854
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/309.

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.

Ratho and Kirknewton Free Church

The ministers of the two parishes, Ratho and Kirknewton remained in the Established Church at the Disruption. For the people adhering to the Free Church services in each parish were at first provided. Later the two were combined and a church erected of Wilkieston on the Edinburgh mid Calder Road, midway between the two parish churches.
Membership: 1845, 110; 1900, 163.
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 may be given in the source including ministers.

Session Minutes 1845–1969
Deacons Court Minutes 1845–1969
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH3/268.

Dalmahoy Episcopalian Chapel

Dalmahoy Estate was owned by the Earl of Morton whose family was Episcopalian. The chapel was a part of the estate.

Christenings, Marriages, and Burials 1851–1854
Note: Records may be available by writing to:
Scottish Episcopal Church
Dalmahoy, St Marys
Kirknewton EH27 8EB

St. Cuthbert’s Parish

See after Edinburgh

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

Ratho was under the probate jurisdiction of the Commissary Court of Edinburg until 1823, and since then has been under the Sheriff's Court of Edinburgh. 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 Midlothian 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 Midlothian. Look in the library catalog for the 'Place-names' of Midlothian 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. 399-416. Adapted. Date accessed: 11 April 2014.

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