Lochs, Ross and Cromarty, Scotland
Parish # 87 Insular
This is a guide to the history and major genealogical records of Scotland as they pertain to the parish of Lochs. 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
The parish of Lochs gets its name from the numerous arms of the sea, by which it is intersected, and the many fresh water lakes that intersperse its surface. The parish of Lochs is bounded on the south by an arm of the sea called Loch Seaforth, which separates it from Harris; on the south-west and west, by the hills of Harris and the parish of Uig, in a line which runs along the interior of the island, a distance of ten miles, over a very moorish tract of ground; and on the north, by the parish of Stornoway and the river Creed, which falls into Stornoway; and on the east, by the channel which separates the island of Lewis from the mainland of Ross-shire.
There is no post or market-town in the parish of Lochs; the nearest to it is Stornoway, which is eleven miles from the church of Lochs. The inhabitants of the parish of Lochs reside in detached villages, having a population varying from 40 families downwards. Most of these villages or farms are lotted in different divisions, each tenant having his house on his own lots, and contracting with his landlord separately for his yearly rent.
The sole land-owner of this parish, and all the Island of Lewis, is James Alexander Stewart M;Kenzie, Esq. M.P., who succeeded to the estate, on his marriage to the Honourable Lady Hood M’Kenzie, widow of the late Admiral Sir Samuel Hood, and eldest daughter of the late Lord Seaforth.
There are no lands in the parish of Lochs that can properly be called arable. The plough is not used at all. The people rear their crops on small detached spots, and cultivate the ground with spades. The notorious implement of Scottish Highland husbandry, “the crooked spade,” is used in this parish. There is not a sufficient food produced in the parish to support its inhabitants. The soil, but more especially the climate, is not favorable for agriculture.
The population of this parish in 1801 was 1875 persons, and by 1831 count, it was 3067.
No parish registers were kept in this parish at any time, as far as is known, until July 1831. The parish church is situated on a small peninsula, on the farm of Keose. Its situation is in the center; but the arms of the sea, by which the parish is intersected, render a regular attendance on divine service impracticable during the winter. Public worship is well attended, excepting when the violence of the weather detains such of the parishioners as must have recourse to boating, in coming to church. There is a part of the parish situated on the north-west side of the island, between the parishes of Uig and Barvas, a distance of eighteen miles from the parish church of Lochs, where the minister of Lochs in bound to preach once every three months. There is not a Government church, nor any place of public worship in the parish of Lochs, excepting the parish church. There is not a single dissenter from the Established Church in any part of the Lewis Islands.
This account was written in 1833.
Source: New Statistical Account of Scotland for Lochs, FHL 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.
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 Lochs as well as the library numbers for any surname indexes available:
|| FHL Film Number
|| Surname Indexes|
|| 6037266 (6 fiche)|
|| 6086658 (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.
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|
|Birth:||1831-1854||0990662 item 2|
|Marriage:||1831-1854||0990662 item 2|
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 theInternational Genealogical Index.
Note: No records were kept prior to 1831.
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:
The extent of records is unknown.
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.
Lochs Free Church
Robert Finlayson, minister of the parish "came out" in 1843, with his congregation following him. The church and manse were soon erected. The situation was unsuitable for many of the parishioners because the moors and arms of the sea made access difficult for them. Later a new church was erected at a more convenient site. The majority of the congregation declined to enter the Union in 1900.
Membership: 1855, 700; 1900, 643.
Source: Annals of the Free Church of Scotland, 1843–1900, ed. Rev. William Ewing, D.D., 2 vols. pub. 1914. Film #918572. More details may be given in the source, including ministers.
The extent of records is unknown.
Carloway Free Church
With few exceptions, the people on the north side of the Isle of Lewis adhered to the Free Church in 1843. Before the Disruption, Carloway formed part of the congregation of Lochs, 30 miles away. In 1844, on petition from the residents, the charge of Carloway and Callernish was sanctioned. It continued, however, in charge of a catechist until 1858. The population of Carloway, Callernish, and Shawbost, numbered about 3000. In 1846 a church was erected on a central site at Knock, Carloway, the people contributing sand and stones for the building. A manse was built in 1859. In 1884 a new church was built on the old site, with the people again contributing sand and stones. Some families at Breasclet joined the Free Presbyterians in 1892. The majority of the congregation did not enter the Union in 1900.
Membership: 1859, 550; 1900, 860.
Source: Annals of the Free Church of Scotland, 1843–1900, ed. Rev. William Ewing, D.D., 2 vols. pub. 1914. Film #918572. More details may be given in the source, including ministers, including 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.
Lochs was under the probate jurisdiction of the Commissary Court of Ross until 1823, and since then has been under the Sheriff's Court of Ross & Cromarty. 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 Ross & Cromarty and the subject of 'Probate records.' Then click on the link to the records of the Commissariat of Ross.
The library also has some post-1823 probate records for Ross & Cromarty. Look in the library catalog for the 'Place-names' of Ross & Cromarty and the subjects of 'Probate Records' and 'Probate Records - Indexes.'
Read more about Scotland Probate Records.
Return to Ross & Cromarty parish list.