Belhelvie, Aberdeenshire, Scotland Genealogy

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Parish #174

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


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 Belhelvie as well as the library numbers for any surname indexes available:

Year FHL Film Number Surname Index
1841 1042653 none
1851 1042113 none
1861 103779 none
1871 103929 noen
1881 203452 6086502 (12 fiche)
1891 208673 none

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 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: 1624-1762 0991256

1763-1854 0991257
Marriages: 1624-1762 0991256

1763-1854 0991257
Deaths: 1698-1763 0991256

1764-1854 0991257

Condition of Original Registers—

Index: For an index to these records, see the Scottish Church Records Index available on computers at the Family History Library and family history centers.  The records may be indexed in the International Genealogical Index.
Births: Portions of thirteen pages for August 1635–October 1645 are destroyed. The record is blank from the latter date to March 1699. Several pages commencing from this last date are imperfect. The record is defective for January 1715–March 1716. The whole record prior to 1792, has suffered much from dampness.
Marriages: The marriage record is blank for June 1645–March 1699. Pages from the latter date to August 1715 have been much injured by dampness. There are no entries for August 1715–January 1716. Mothers’ names not recorded in the entries until 1747. There is only one entry for December 1790–April 1792 and the record is blank for June 1794–July 1797.
Deaths: Burial records are blank for October 1706–January 1709 and August 1715–March 1716. Portions have been injured by dampness. The record is blank for January 1788–February 1792.
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 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 1623–1917
Cash Book 1850–1932
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/32.

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.

 Shiels United Presbyterian Church

This congregation originated from the attentions of the minister of the Craigdam congregation who preached here occasionally. It was accepted by the General Associate, Anti-burgher Presbytery of Elgin as a preaching station. The cause prospered and the congregation was disjoined from Craigdam in 1782.
Source: Annals and Statistics of the United Presbyterian Church, by Rev. William MacKelvie, D.D., pub. 1873. Film #477618. More details are given in the source.

Session Minutes 1828–1829
Account Book with Managers’ Minutes 1808–1850
Treasurers’ Accounts 1852
Post-1855 records also available.
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH3/41.

Belhelvie Free Church

The Belhelvie charge was sanctioned in 1844, though the members had been meeting for a while. A church was erected at Potterton in 1843. The Belhelvie Free Church and the Shiels United Free Church, formerly United Presbyterian, united in 1905 and formed the Belhelvie and Shiels Free Church.
Membership: 1848, 120; 1900, 121
Source: Annals of the Free Church of Scotland, 1843–1900, ed. Rev. William Ewing, D.D., 2 vols. pub. 1914. Film #918572. More details are given in the source.

There are no known pre-1855 records for Belhelvie.

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

Belhelvie was under the probate jurisdiction of the Commissary Court of Aberdeen until 1823, and since then has been under the Sheriff's Court of Aberdeen. 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' of Aberdeen and the subject of 'Probate records.' Then click on the link to the records of the Commissariat of Aberdeen.
The library also has some post-1823 probate records for Aberdeen. Look in the library catalog for the 'Place' of Aberdeen and the subjects of 'Probate Records' and 'Probate Records - Indexes.'

Read more about Scotland Probate Records.

Return to the Aberdeenshire parish list