Inverness, Inverness-shire, Scotland Genealogy

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Parish # 98 

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


The Parish name is Celtic in origin and is supposed to refer to the “Fall of Foyers”, which discharges it’s streams into Loch Ness. The Burgh of Inverness came into existence after the Roman period, and was the seat of the Pictish monarchy and became of some importance in the sixth century. Inverness Burgh became a location where many nobles and sovereigns established large strongholds to hold sway over extensive districts in the region.

The market-town of Inverness is the only one in the parish. There are three other towns within 70 KM, however, they are relatively small. Elgin is about 50 KM east, northeast of Inverness, while Newtonmore is about 50 KM south of Inverness. Ullapool is about 70 KM northeast of Inverness.

The city Inverness is situated at the outlet of Loch Ness and is a port city to the North Sea. Also Inverness is regarded as the capital of the Highlands of Scotland.

Macbeth the Celt, The Lord of Ross and Moray built castles in Inverness. There were about seven or eight principal heritors in the parish, none of which are named in this volume. Oliver Cromwell (1752-57) erected a citadel and fort on the north side of the town of Inverness.

The land under cultivation was between 8,000 and 9,000 acres, mostly in the vale of the river Ness. The highlands are covered with heath and woods of Scotch fir, with groves of larch, ash elm, beech and oak.

Cattle are common in the parish both for dairy and meat production, five year crop rotation is observed in the area. Fish (salmon) and fowl are plentiful in the region.

The population of the town and parish in the year of 1791 was 7,930 and in 1831 the population was 14,324.

Civil registers (Kirk-Session) extend back to August 1602 with a lapse between 1655 and 1673.
There are no references to church records under the Churches and Ecclesiastical Affairs segment of this parish. There are references as to when the churches were built and notes as to their seating capacity.

 There are two parish churches, both located in the town of Inverness (one in which English alone is preached) and the Gaelic Church in which Gaelic alone is preached. Other congregations in Inverness include Episcopalians, Seceders, Independents, Baptists, Methodists, and Roman Catholics. 

This account was written April 1835.

Source: New Statistical Account of Scotland for Inverness, FHL book 941 B4sa, series 2, vol. 14.

Also available online at Browse the scanned pages under ‘For non-subscribers,’ then search for the parish report.

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 Inverness, as well as the library numbers for any surname indexes available:

FHL Film Number
Surname Indexes
6344852 (3 fiche)
203420,203421, 203422
6086593 (4 fiche)
208636,208637, 208638

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 Numbers
Births: 1604-1716 0990666

1717-1779 0990667

1780-1819 0990668

1820-1831 0990670

1831-1854 0990980
Marriages: 1604-1616 0990666

1649-1818 0990669

1820-1834 0990670

1835-1854 0990980
Deaths: 1602-1616 0990666

1688-1819 0990669

1820-1853 0990670


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: There are no entries January 1616–August 1642, December 1655–July 1675, and February 1685–December 1687. The lower portion of pages 41 and 42 are torn off. Except for a few entries on two pages for 1704–1706, there are no entries December 1695–April 1707. The record has been well and regularly kept from 1717–1819. After 1796, space at the end of each month, headed "supplement" has been inserted for neglected entries.
Marriages: There are no entries December 1650–February 1654, April 1655–January 1708 and only one entry May 1716–October 1717.
Deaths: There are no entries May 1690–October 1707. One page of irregular entries 1724–1760 is on a flyleaf of the register beginning October 1707. The first six pages of the record, which now begins October 1707, have been lost. There are only two entries for July 1819–March 1820.
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:

Inverness and Bona Kirk Session Old High Kirk

Minutes and Accounts 1688–1940
Note of Mortifications 1661–1683
Hospital Treasurer's Accounts 1663–1829
Hospital Pensioners' Accounts 1779–1810
Collections 1715–1733, 1835–1875
Discipline Fines 1718–1719 (mostly undated) 1725–1734
Disbursements of Surplus Collections 1807–1883
Source: Inverness Kirk Session Records 1661–1800 by A. Mitchell, British Book 941.21/I2 K2M]
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/720.

Inverness West Kirk Session

Minutes 1840–1844
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/905.

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.

Inverness East Free Church

The minister and office-bearers of the East Quoad Sacra Church, with the entire congregation, members and adherents, "came out" in 1843. They retained the property. The church was altered in 1852, and rebuilt in 1897. The manse, which had become old and unsuitable, was sold, and a house was rented for the minister. For long the East Church was the centre and rallying-point for evangelistic work in the Highlands.
Membership: 1859, 170; 1900, 335.
Source:  Annals of the Free Church of Scotland, 1843-1900, ed. Rev. William Ewing, D.D., 2 Vols. Pub. 1914. Film #918572

Records—                               FHL Film Number
Church Records 1843–1858       l068234 item 2

Inverness High Free Church

At the Disruption a number of adherents of the Free Church formed themselves into a congregation, known for a time as the English, and afterwards as the High Congregation. Services were held at first in the Wesleyan Methodist Church, and later in Bell's School and grounds. The church was built on the east side of the Ness, and opened in December 1843. A new church was erected in 1852. The manse was built in 1863. Mr. Gavin Tait, a young man in 1843, ordained an elder in 1854, was still alive in 1900, having been session clerk for nearly fifty years.
Membership: 1848, 180; 1900, 761.
Source:  Annals of the Free Church of Scotland, 1843–1900, ed. Rev. William Ewing, D.D., 2 Vols. Pub. 1914. Film #918572

The extent of records is unknown.

Inverness North Free Church

The minister of the North Quoad Sacra church, with his congregation, adhered to the Free Church in 1843, and retained possession of their buildings. Some years later a new church was built. This became the principal Gaelic congregation in the town.
Membership: 1854, 143; 1900, 401.
Source:  Annals of the Free Church of Scotland, 1843–1900, ed. Rev. William Ewing, D.D., 2 vols. pub. 1914. Film #918572.

Extent of records is unknown.

Queen Street United Presbyterian Church

Mr. Munro, afterwards minister of this congregation, was sent by the United Associate Synod to the North Highlands, as a Gaelic missionary, in 1829. While there, he preached sometimes in Inverness. Certain person’s resident in the town and neighborhood, hearing him upon some of these occasions, became desirous of having regular supply of sermon from the denomination to which he belonged, with Mr. Munro for their preacher. The Presbytery agreed, and Mr. Munro preached there on an average once a month, with him to be occupied elsewhere the other three. The congregation thus formed. In 1836, the rent of their place of worship was increased and it became necessary to erect a church for themselves or break up the congregation. A place of worship was accordingly erected that year. A new church was erected in 1865. The congregation adhered to the Free Church in 1873.
Source:  Annals and Statistics of the United Presbyterian Church, by Rev. William MacKelvie, D.D., pub. 1873. Film #477618.

Minutes 1837–1873
Baptisms, Marriages and Admissions to Membership are inserted among the minutes.
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH3/180.

First United Presbyterian Church - extinct

This congregation originated in Nigg, about the year 1788. The congregation became extinct in 1810. After 1817, it became Union Street (see below).
Source:  Annals and Statistics of the United Presbyterian Church, by Rev. William MacKelvie, D.D., pub. 1873. Film #477618.

The extent of records is unknown.

Union Street United Presbyterian Church

Twenty persons formerly connected with the First Congregation, Inverness formed a second, by applying for and obtaining supply of sermon from the General Associate Anti-burgher Presbytery of Elgin in 1817. The Church was built in 1821; a new church was built on Union Street in 1864.
Source:  Annals and Statistics of the United Presbyterian Church, by Rev.William MacKelvie, D.D., pub. 1873. Film #477618. Source contains a list of ministers.

Minutes 1848–1906
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH3/787.

Inverness Congregational Church

A church was formed in 1818. A chapel was erected on Fraser Street in 1826. By the middle of the century the church had become almost extinct. It was reformed in 1871 but ceased to meet about 1877. There were other congregational churches formed in Inverness but they switched to Baptist in 1807.
Source:  A History of Scottish Congregationalism, by Harry Escott, pub. 1960. FHL book 941 K2es. Source contains lists of 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

Inverness Baptist Church

As early as 1804 there were persons of independent persuasion meeting for fellowship in the district of Strathspey, but without ministers. When the dispute on the Baptist question arose in 1807, most of the members adopted Baptist views and formed a church in Grantown, Morayshire. Independents from Strathspey and Badenoch also formed a church at Rothiemurchus, which became Baptist in 1807. A Baptist church was formed in Inverness about 1820. After the death of its minister in 1836, the members worshiped with the Independents. Following a great religious revival in 1859, a new Baptist congregation was formed, which lasted about ten years. Another was formed in 1898.
Source:  History of the Baptists in Scotland, by Rev. George Yuille, pub. 1926, FHL book 941 K2hi also The Baptists in Scotland by D.W. Bebbington, Pub. 1988, FHL Book 941 K2bs

The extent of records is unknown. For information write to:
Baptist Union of Scotland
12 Aytoun Road
Glasgow G41 5RT

Inverness Methodist Society

John Wesley visited and preached in the highlands area of Scotland including in Inverness. A chapel was established there in 1798. The church today is on Huntly Street. It is the only active Methodist society in the region.

The extent of the records is unknown. For information call the church at:
or write to:
Methodist Archives and Research Centre
John Rylands University Library of Manchester
150 Deansgate
Manchester M3 3EH

Inverness Episcopal Church

No history is available.

The extent of records is unknown. For more information write to the church at:
St. Andrew's Cathedral
15 Ardross Street
Inverness IV3 5NS

Inverness Catholic Church

A congregation was formed in 1832. A church was built and consecrated to St. Mary in 1837. Inverness was served from Aigas 1810–1827, which has no records. From 1827 it was served from Eskadale. See Kilkarlity parish for earlier records. In the 1840s, Inverness served all the small country congregations.
Baptisms 1832–1903
Marriages 1836–1916
Burials 1852–1855
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record RH21/26.

Inverness Branch, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

Records—                                    FHL Film Number
Record of Members, 1847–1850      0104153 item 5

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

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

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

Read more about Scotland Probate Records.

Return to Inverness-shire parish list.