Sandsting & Aithsting, Shetland, Scotland Genealogy

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Scotland Gotoarrow.png Shetland Gotoarrow.png Sandsting & Aithsting

Parish #9

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


SANDSTING and AITHSTING, a parish, in the county of Shetland, 12 miles (W. N. W.) from Lerwick; containing the islands of Little Papa and Vementry. These ancient parishes, now united, are said to derive their names respectively from two necks of land called Ting or Taing, on which courts of justice were formerly held; the one situated near Sand, and originating the name of Sand's-ting; and the other near Aith, giving the name of Aith's-ting. The church was built in 1780, and reseated in 1824, and contains sittings for 437 persons. Previously to its erection there was a church in each of the two districts; and the present edifice was raised in a central situation, for the more regular performance of divine service; but it is found inconvenient for general attendance, many of the inhabitants being separated by a marshy tract seven miles across, and others by two arms of the sea. There is a meeting-house for Independents, and another for 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 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 Sandsting & Aithsting as well as the library numbers for any surname indexes available:

FHL Film Number
Surname Indexes
6086700 (2 fiche)

1804                                477622 Item 13

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 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 FHL Film Number
Births: 1733-1854 0919493
Marriages: 1733-1854 0919493
Deaths: 1733-1875 0919493


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 duplicate entries for 1813–1817.
Marriages: There are no entries February 1776–1793 and May 1812–October 1815.
Deaths: There is only one entry August 1741–January 1743. The page containing entries from 1750–1756 inclusive is damaged by dampness, and there are no entries February 1772–October 1775.
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 1736–1773, 1817–1821, 1826, 1830–1842
Note: Available at the Shetland Archives, Lerwick, Scotland, record CH2/324.

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.

Sandsting Congregational Churches

A congregation was formed at Sand in 1835. Another was formed at Reawick earlier but acquired its first pastor in 1842. These two congregations later joined about 1862.
Sources: A History of Scottish Congregationalism, by Harry Escott, pub. 1960; FHL Book 941 K2es and The Scottish Congregational Ministry, by Rev. William D. McNaughton, pub. 1993. FHL Book 941 K2mwd. More details are given in the sources including ministers.

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

Sandsting Baptist Church

A congregation was formed about 1843 and a church built about 1853.
Source: History of the Baptists in Scotland, by Rev. George Yuille, pub. 1926. FHL Book 941 K2hi. More details are given in the source including ministers.

The extent of records is unknown. There may be none prior to 1901. Earlier records may be included with Dunrossness. For more information write to:
Baptist Union of Scotland
12 Aytoun Road
Glasgow G41 5RT

Sandsting Methodist Society

A congregation was formed prior to 1841. Membership at that time was said to be 50–60.

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

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

Sandsting & Aithsting was under the probate jurisdiction of the Commissary Court of Orkney & Shetland until 1823, and since then has been under the Sheriff's Court of Lerwick. 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 Shetland and the subject of 'Probate records.' Then click on the link to the records of the Commissariat of Orkney & Shetland.

The library also has some post-1823 probate records for Shetland. Look in the library catalog for the 'Place-names' of Shetland and the subjects of 'Probate Records' and 'Probate Records - Indexes.'

Read more aboutScotland Probate Records.


  1. Lewis, Samuel A., A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland (1846), pp. 499-514. Adapted. Date accessed: 15 August 2014.

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