Nairn, Nairnshire, Scotland Genealogy

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Parish #123

This is a guide to the history and major genealogical records of Scotland as they pertain to the parish of Nairn.  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 Nairn. 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 Nairn as well as the library numbers for any surname indexes available:

Year Family History Library Film Number Surname Index
1841    1042643 None
1851 1042100 None
1861 0103887 None
1871 0104066 None
1881 0203430 6086628 (1 fiche)
1891 0208646 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 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: 1705-1771 0990984
     " 1771-1854 0990985
Marriages: 1705-1771 0990984
     " 1771-1854 0990985
Neglected entries: 1844-1848[1]      "
Deaths: None None

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: Births and marriages are intermixed 1705–1752. There are no entries for December 1706–November 1707. For 1753–1773 inclusive, the births and marriages for each year are recorded alternately. Beginning in 1771, the records are kept separately. A part of the 1806 page of births is torn off.
Marriages: Births and marriages are intermixed 1705–1752. There are no entries for December 1706–November 1707. For 1753–1773 inclusive, the births and marriages for each year are recorded alternately. Beginning in 1771, the records are kept separately.
Source: Key to the Parochial Registers of Scotland, by V. Ben Bloxham, pub. 1970. Family History Library book 941 K23b.

Established Church—Kirk Session Records

The Kirk session was the court of the parish. The Kirk 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 1812, 1815, 1829–1886
Communion Roll 1854
Collections and Distributions (poor roll) 1815–1836
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/1314.
Presbytery minutes 1773–1929
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/554.

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.

Nairn Secession Church

This congregation began in 1747 when seceders in the parish of Nairn joined with those at Boghole, in the parish of Auldearn, to form one church under the designation of the United Congregations of Boghole and Nairn with its seat at Boghole. In 1763, the Nairn residents built their own church but remained linked with Boghole, sharing the same minister. In 1769, Nairn separated from Boghole and was recognized as a separate congregation.
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.

Extent of the records is unknown.

Nairn Free Church

This congregation anticipated the Disruption in 1843 and built a new church. Consequently, those who joined the Free Church were able to worship in their new building the first Sabbath after the Disruption. In November of 1843 a minister was settled. Gaelic services were also provided regularly until 1895.
Membership:1848, 200; 1900, 604.
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.

Minutes 1843–1917
Deacons' Court Minutes 1849–1901
Lists of Subscribers to Manse Building Fund 1849-1850
Signed Declaration of Adherence, 1843
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH3/80.

Nairn Congregational Church

Preaching began in Nairn about 1801, and the hearers moved into a newly erected chapel in 1803. The congregation was formed in 1806 and a minister settled. They moved to a new chapel on Crescent Road, King Street in 1862.
Source: A History of Scottish Congregationalism, by Harry Escott. Glasgow Congregational Union of Scotland, 1960; Family History Library British book 941 K2es.

Extent of the records is unknown. For information write to:
The United Reformed Church, Scottish Synod Office
P.O. Box 189
240 Cathedral Street
Glasgow G1 2BX

Nairn Episcopal Church

A chapel was built in the parish about 1851. The Statistical Account for 1842 recognizes only one Episcopalian family in the parish. Other members would have come from neighboring parishes.

Registers of Christenings, 1853–1854, are in the hands of the incumbent.

For information write to:
St. Columba's Church
1 Clova Crescent
Nairn IV12 4TE


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

Nairn was under the probate jurisdiction of the Commissary Court of Moray until 1823, and since then has been under the Sheriff's Court of Nairn. 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 Nairn (the county) and the subject of 'Probate records.' Then click on the link to the records of the Commissariot of Moray.

Read more about Scotland Probate Records.


[Return to the Nairn parish list.]