Selkirkshire, Scotland Genealogy
Selkirkshire is an inland county in the south of Scotland, bounded on the north by the counties of Peebles and Edinburgh, on the south by Dumfriesshire, on the east by Roxburghshire, and on the west by Peeblesshire. It is 27 miles in length from south-west to north-east and 16 miles in breadth, comprising an area of 263 square miles or 168,320 acres.
This county, along with Roxburgh, anciently formed part of the forest of Ettrick, which was a favorite resort of the Scottish sovereigns for the purpose of hunting. About two-thirds of the county is now the property of the Duke of Buccleuch. The county includes nine parishes. Selkirk is the county town and a royal burgh. It also contains part of the market town of Galashiels and numerous small hamlets.
The surface of the county is mountainous. About 10,000 acres are arable, 2300 are woodland and plantations, 1250 acres are garden and pleasure gournds, and the remainder is mountain pasture, principally for sheep. There are no minerals to speak of. The chief manufactures are of woollen cloth and stockings. There are two tanneries and several establishments for making agricultural implements.
The population of the county in 1851 was 7990.
(Source: Samuel Lewis' Topographical Dictionary of Ireland. 2nd ed., 1851. Family History Library book 941 E5L, 2 vols.)
Here is a list of historic parishes for the county of Selkirk with their parish numbers. Click on a parish name to see information about records.
A census is a count and description of the population, taken by the government, arranged by locality and by household. In 1841, the British government began taking censuses of the population of Scotland every ten years, listing all persons by name. The census records must be 100 years old before they are released to the public, so the 1841 through 1901 are currently available. Read more about Scotland Census Records.
Most available census records have been indexed by surname. Indexes are online at these Web sites:
- http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk (includes images; accessed for a nominal fee)
- http://www.freecen.org.uk (very incomplete, but growing; free)
The Family History Library has county-wide census indexes for Selkirkshire for 1841, 1851, 1861, and 1881. The library also has a collection of census surname indexes for different places within Selkirkshire. Click here to see a table listing these other census surname indexes that are available at the library.
Civil Registration Records
Government or civil registration of births, marriages, and deaths (also called statutory records) began on January 1, 1855 in Scotland. Annual indexes are available for the whole country. See the article on Scotland Civil Registration for more information and to access the records.
The county of Selkirk is in the Sheriff's court of Selkirk (SC63). The Registers of Deeds for Sheriffs' courts contain much valuable information for family history research such as marriage contracts and deeds of 'disposal and settlement' (or assignment) of property, which both give names and relationships. The records are deposited at the National Archives of Scotland in Edinburgh and are not indexed.
Galashiels Combination www.workhouses.org.uk/Galashiels/
Probate records are those which deal with the settlement of the estate of a deceased person. In Scotland, until 1868, a person could only pass movable property such as household furniture, farm equipment, livestock, money and clothes through a document known as a 'testament.' Immovable property such as land was passed to the eldest son or heir through a document known as a 'Service of Heir,' which is not a record of probate. Read more about Scotland Probate Records.
Until 1823, the parishes of Selkirkshire were under the probate jurisdiction of the Commissariot Court of Peebles (CC18). Since 1823, the county has been under the jurisdiction of the Sheriff's Court of Selkirk (SC63).
Probate records for 1513-1901 (including inventories of goods) 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' of Selkirk (then select the county) and the subject of 'Probate records.' Then click on the link to the 'Testaments registers.'
Click here to see an outline map of the parishes of Selkirkshire.
[Return to county list.]