Leith (North), Midlothian, Scotland

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Scotland Gotoarrow.png Midlothian Gotoarrow.png Leith (North)

Parish #692-1

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


LEITH, a burgh and sea-port town, in the county of Edinburgh, 1½ mile (N. by E.) from Edinburgh, and 392 (N. N. W.) from London; containing the parishes of North and South Leith. This place, which is of considerable antiquity, formerly belonged to the abbey of Holyrood. The town, which is situated on the south side of the Frith of Forth, at the influx of the Water of Leith, is of considerable extent. The parish of North Leith once belonged to the abbey of Holyrood, from which it was separated in 1606; and in 1630, the baronies of Newhaven and Hillhousefield were severed from the parish of St. Cuthbert, and annexed to this parish, which now extends rather more than a mile and a half along the shore of the Frith. The church, erected by the heritors is an elegant structure in the Grecian style of architecture with a stately portico of four Ionic columns, supporting a triangular pediment. Above is a tower of three diminishing stages, of which the first is of the Doric, the second of the Ionic, and the third of the Corinthian order; and this tower is surmounted by an elegant spire rising to the height of 158 feet from the pavement. The interior of the edifice is well arranged, and contains 1768 sittings. There are also places of worship for members of the Free Church and United Secession.[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 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.

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 Leith (North) as well as the library numbers for any surname indexesavailable.

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

Years Covered FHL Film Number
Births: 1615-1694 - baptisms 1067765 item 3

1694-1726, 1728-1791, 1791-1819 1067766

1820-1830 - indexed 1067767

1831-1844 - indexed 1067767

1845-1854 - indexed 1067768
Marriages: 1605-1706 1067766

1783-1819 1067767

1820-1847 - indexed 1067768

1847-1854 - indexed 1067768

1821-1831 1067768

1832-1854 1067769
Deaths: 1754-1819 1067767

1820-1854 - burials, indexed 1067769

Condition of Original Registers—

Index: For an index to these records, see the Scottish Church Records Index on computer at the Family History Library and family history centers.  Some records may be indexed in the International Genealogical Index. 
Births: There are no entries August 1657–May 1682 or May 1726–November 1728. There is an index, 1820–1854.
Marriages: There are no entries July 1650–November 1652, December 1656–October 1683, October 1697–October 1699, and April 1706–October 1783. There is an index, 1827–1854.
Deaths: This register is of deaths and burials. There are no entries May 1756–January 1799. There is an index, 1827–1854.
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 1605–1642, 1678–1686, 1697–1841
Patrons’ Minutes 1840–1841
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/621.

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.

North Leith Free Church

The parish was vacant at the Disruption. Over 600 members and nearly all the elders adhered to the Free Church. Their first church opened in 1844, was at the corner of Coburg Street and North Junction Street. A new church was built on Ferry Road and opened for service in 1859.
Membership: 1848, 524; 1900, 1004.
Source: Annals of the Free Church of Scotland, 1843–1900, ed. Rev. William Ewing, D.D., 2 vols. pub. 1914. FHL Film #918572. More details may be given in the source including ministers.

Session Minutes 1843–1860
Deacons Court Minutes 1844–1879
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH3/339.

See also South Leith.

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

Leith (North) was under the probate jurisdiction of the Commissary Court of Edinburgh until 1823, and since then has been under the Sheriff's Court of Edinburgh. 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 Midlothian and the subject of 'Probate records.' Then click on the link to the records of the Commissariat of Edinburgh.

The library also has some post-1823 probate records for Midlothian. Look in the library catalog for the 'Place-names' of Midlothian 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. 157-175. Adapted. Date accessed: 11 April 2014.

Return to the Midlothian Parish List.