Duirinish, Inverness, Scotland Genealogy

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Scotland Gotoarrow.png Inverness-shire Gotoarrow.png Duirinish

Parish #110

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


DUIRINISH, a parish, in the Isle of Skye, county of Inverness; containing the late quoad sacra parish of Waternish. The parish is bounded on the north and north-east by Lochs Snizort and Grieshernish, on the south and south-east by Lochs Bracadale and Carroy, and on the west by the channel of the Minch. The church, erected in 1824, is a substantial and handsome structure in the centre of the parish, and contains 550 sittings. An extension church, containing 330 seats, has been built in the district of Arnizort, about twelve miles from the parish church; and there is a similar church on the west side of the loch of Dunvegan.[1]

Duirinish, or more properly Durinish, is by some resolved into two words of Scandinavian origin, signifying the promontory of Deer; but more probably, the name is derived from the Gaelic Dur, which like the Latin Durus, signifies hard or rocky, and Innis, a very common Celtic term, signifying indifferently promontory or island. This parish is, both in conversation and in writing, sometimes designated Kilmuir, a corruption of Cill-Mhuire, namely a place consecrated to the Virgin Mary; but Durinish is the name by which it is generally known.

This parish is bound on the west by what is called the Minch, the channel which separates Skye from the Outer Hebrides; on the north and north-east, by Loch Grieshernish, or Arnizort, a branch of Loch Snizort (except that a small strip of land to the east of this loch belongs to it); on the south and south-east by Loch Bracadale, and one of its branches called Loch Carroy, and on the east partly by the parish of Snizort, and partly by that of Bracadale.

Tradition speaks of some sanguinary battles fought between the Macleods and the Clann Roannuill or Macdonalds of Uist, who made repeated attempts either to possess themselves of the country, or at least to plunder and ravage it.  The fiercest and bloodiest of these balltes was fought at a place called Ardmore.

It is well known that the great bag-pipe, the instrument on which the national music of Scotland was chiefly played for so long a time, has still so striking an effect in rousing the martial spirit of the Highlanders.  It was cultivated with greater success by the Macrimmons, the hereditary pipers of the Macleods, than by any others in the Highlands.

Almost the whole population is engaged more or less in agriculture. There are 1900 acres now in cultivation, and upwards of 3000 which were once cultivated, but are now in pasture Thus, there are about 40,000 acres which have always remained waste. There are still some of the caoirich bheaga, or little sheep, that is the breed of sheep indigenous to the Highlands.  They are kept by the poor people, but they are worthless compared with the larger kinds introduced from the south. Their wool is fine quality; and their mutton possesses a delicacy of flavor which far surpasses that belonging to the best fed of the larger kinds.

The parochial registers have been much neglected; there being none extending farther than thirty years back .Sessions-records, it may be mentioned, were not kept with any degree of fullness before the commencement of the year 1840.

This account was written February 1841.

Source: The New Statistical Account of Scotland for Duirinish, Family History Library book 941 B4sa, series 2 vol 14.


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 you are interested in. 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 Duirinish, as well as the library numbers for any surname indexes available:

Family History Library Film Number
Surname Indexes
1042640 Item 5
1042067 E.D. 1-18,1042068 E.D. 19-24
6344852 (3 fiche)
6086593 (4 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.

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 Family History Library Film Number
Births: 1817-1854 0990719
Marriages: 1817-1854 0990719
Deaths: No entries none


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:Births were kept in sections with marriages, each district of the parish having a separate register. Marriages: kept in sections with births, each district of the parish having a separate register.
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 1836–1878
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/877.


Kirk Session Minutes 1849–1900
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/1496.

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.

Duirinish Skye Free Church

In December 1843 a catechist was appointed to care for the adherents of the Free Church in this parish. The charge was sanctioned in 1850, and a minister was settled in 1852. Church and manse were erected shortly after the Disruption and were later, altered and renovated.
Membership: 1855; 800.
Source: Annals of The Free Church Of Scotland, 1943-1900, ed. Rev. William Ewing, D.D., 2 Vols. pub. 1914. Film #918572. More details may be given in the source, including list of ministers.

The extent of records is unknown.

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

Duirinish was under the probate jurisdiction of the Commissary Court of The Isles until 1823, and since then, has been under the Sheriff's Court of Inverness. 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 Inverness-shire and the subject of 'Probate records.' Then click on the link to the records of the Commissariat of The Isles.

The library also has some post-1823 probate records for Inverness-shire. Look in the library catalog for the 'Place-names' of Inverness-shire 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. 499-514. Adapted. Date accessed: 3 July 2014.

Return to Inverness-shire parish list.