Shapinshay, Orkney, Scotland Genealogy
This is a guide to the history and major genealogical records of Scotland as they pertain to the parish of Shapinshay. To learn more about how to use these records to search for your ancestors, go to the Scotland: Research Strategies.
- 1 History
- 2 Census Records
- 3 Church Records
- 4 Civil Registration Records
- 5 Probate Records
- 6 References
SHAPINSHAY, an island and parish, in the county of Orkney, 3 miles (N. N. E.) from Kirkwall. This island, which is bordered by the Frith of Stronsay, is said to have been visited by the Roman general Agricola, in his voyage round Britain. The church is a neat and commodious structure erected in 1821. There is a place of worship for the United Associate Synod.
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.
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 Shapinshay, as well as the library numbers for any surname indexes available:
|| Family History Library Film Number
|| Surname Indexes|
|| 6086634 (2 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.
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 Number|
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: Birth registers are incomplete August 1650–June 1658, and there are no entries 1699–August 1758.
Marriages: There are no marriage entries January 1651–October 1658, and July 1702–November 1758.
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 1645–1649, 1658–1678, 1679–1705, 1758–1791, 1793–1933
Note: Available on Film at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/1100.
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.
Shapinshay United Associate Secesson Church
Shapinshay is an island in Orkney containing a population of about 1000 souls. The United Associate Presbytery of Orkney fixed upon this place as a preaching station in 1831. A congregation was organized and a place of worship was built the following year.
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.
Minutes, Various 1832–1933
Other Post–1855 Records
Note: Available on Film at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH3/1111.
Shapinshay Evangelical Union Church
A church was formed in 1852 by persons who had adopted Evangelical Union principles. The meetings at first were held in a barn, then in a joiner’s ship, and subsequently in different parts of the island. A building was opened for worship in September 1853. The church joined the Evangelical Union in 1855, and Thomas G. Salmon became its pastor in the same year. This congregation was dissolved in April 1962.
Source: A History of Scottish Congregationalism, by Harry Escott, pub. 1960. Contains a list of the ministers. Family History Library British Book941 K2es
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 2BX
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.
Shapinshay 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 Kirkwall. 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 Orkney 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 Orkney. Look in the library catalog for the 'Place-names' of Orkney and the subjects of 'Probate Records' and 'Probate Records - Indexes.'
Read more about Scotland Probate Records.
- Lewis, Samuel A., A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland (1846), pp. 499-514. Adapted. Date accessed: 15 August 2014.
Return to Orkney parish list.