Church records

Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Archives hold various records relating to different churches throughout the North East. This includes Church of Scotland records, Free Church records, Methodist Churches and Congregational Churches. 

This map shows the locations of churches for which we hold records. The different coloured pins represent the different types of churches.

  • Blue pins: Church of Scotland
  • Red pins: Free Church
  • Purple pins: Episcopal Churches
  • Green pins: Methodist Churches
  • Yellow pins: Congregational Churches

Kirk Session records for St Nicholas, St Clement's, John Knox and Greyfriars churches and records of the Aberdeen Presbytery and Synod are housed in the City Archives on behalf of the National Records of Scotland under what is known as 'Charge and Superintendence'. In addition to matters of church discipline, the records can contain communion rolls, payments to the poor, baptisms, marriages and some burials.

All Church of Scotland records begin with the reference CH2 followed by the number allocated to that particular church. You can search our Online Catalogue for a full list of Church of Scotland records held by us. 

Session records for other Church of Scotland churches are located at the National Records of Scotland (NRS) in Edinburgh. The NRS have now made Kirk Session and other Church Court records available on the ScotlandsPeople website. Some of the material held at the Town House is not included in the digitised versions.

Kirk Session Minutes

Kirk Session minutes detail the ongoing business of the Session. This can include a variety of information, from day to day church business, to those brought before the session for wrong-doing.

Searching the minutes can be time consuming, as they are very rarely indexed. This means that unless you know either the exact date or date range an event occurred, you will have to read through the volume until you find the information you are looking for. There is also the handwriting to get used to! 

Information which can be found in the minutes can range from lists of marriage contracts, baptisms, those who were accused of various crimes including fornication, blasphemy, and so on, as well as those who were receiving assistance from the church.

A typical page from a kirk session minute book may include notes of collections, names of elders, notes on repairs to church property, information on those brought before the session and the reasons why, and any other business which the session may have been concerned with. You may also find information about education, as the church ran schools.

Kirk Session Accounts

Kirk Session Accounts detail payments by the church for various reasons, as well as showing money coming in from a variety of sources. They can be an extremely useful resource, as they can provide a wealth of information about what the church was doing at any particular time.

Payments made by the church can be for a number of reasons – paying a steeplejack for repairs carried out; for the ringing of the bells; paying money to the poor are all included in the accounts. Furthermore, you may also find lists of those who paid the church for baptisms, marriages, and burials, though these are less commonly found. Nonetheless, they can be a useful source to check, especially if Old Parish Registers have not survived for the time period you are interested in.

Problems you will find with the accounts include the handwriting, especially when it comes to numbers. They are not indexed, so you will again need to know either the date, or date range of an event you are interested in.

The Aberdeen & North-East Scotland Family History Society have indexed the St Nicholas Kirk Session Accounts 1602-1705.

Presbytery Minutes

The Presbytery sits between the Kirk Sessions and the Synod of the area. Like the Synod, it is responsible for all the Kirk Sessions in its area, but does not have as much control as they Synod does. The Presbytery would regularly visit its member Sessions, and is also responsible for setting the boundaries of each parish for church or ecclesiastical purposes.

Responsible not only for ordaining ministers, the Presbytery would also oversee decisions made by the Kirk Sessions. Education was also a responsibility of the Presbytery and it would make sure that future schoolmasters were suitable for the parish.

The minutes are unindexed, and the handwriting can be difficult. However, they are a useful source for building on information found in the Kirk Session records, and can be complemented by Synod records.

Synod Minutes

The minutes of the Aberdeen Synod contain information about church policy, and sometimes national events. However, they also detail some appeals made before different presbyteries, and also made sure that those presbyteries were keeping their records correctly. The synod minutes can therefore offer a fuller picture surrounding some events noted in both Kirk Session and Presbytery records.

The minutes are generally unindexed, and the handwriting can be difficult. Nonetheless, they are a useful source and can be complemented by the Kirk Session and Presbytery records.


Records for some Aberdeen Free, United Presbyterian (UP) and United Free (UF) churches are housed in the City Archives on behalf of the National Records of Scotland under what is known as 'Charge and Superintendence'.

  • CH3/917:    Aberdeen: North Free Church/United Free Church/Church of Scotland, North Church of St Andrew 
  • CH3/918:    Aberdeen, Commerce Street (Mariners') Free Church
  • CH3/1353:    Aberdeen, St Clement's Free Kirk Session
  • CH3/1621:    Aberdeen King Street Free/ United Free/ Church of Scotland Kirk Session
  • CH3/1705:    Aberdeen, Nelson Street United Presbyterian/United Free Church

Other Free, UP and UF church records for the North East have remained with the NRS and are detailed in their online catalogue under the reference CH3.

Some financial records and magazines for the East Free/East United Free/East and Belmont Church are held in DD66A.

A number of different records relating to various Methodist Churches in the North East are held, including minute books, Sunday School records, and journals. The Methodist Church was founded by John Wesley in the late 1730s/ early 1740s, though the records we hold mainly date from the 19th and 20th century. 

If you wish to look at any of the records, the records are all held at Old Aberdeen House and can be identified through our Online Catalogue using the reference number from the list below. We also have the following guide to Methodist Church Records available for download.

The records are all from churches in the North of Scotland Mission Circuit (PD14/13), or its predecessor Aberdeen (PD14/12) and Portessie Circuits (PD14/14) - we also hold some records for the circuits themselves.

The Churches are: 

  • PD14/1 Cullen Methodist Church
  • PD14/2 Portessie Methodist Church
  • PD14/3 Findochty Methodist Church
  • PD14/4 Whitehills Methodist Church
  • PD14/5 Banff Methodist Church
  • PD14/6 Aberdeen Long Acre Methodist Church
  • PD14/7 Aberdeen Crown Terrace Methodist Church
  • PD14/8 Portgordon Methodist Church
  • PD14/9 Buckie Methodist Church
  • PD14/10 Inverurie Methodist Church
  • PD14/11 Boddam Methodist Church
  • PD62 Peterhead Methodist Church

A number of records for various Congregational Churches across the North East are held, including Huntly, Westhill, and George Street in Aberdeen. If you wish to look at any of the records, please note the reference number (this will start with the letters CC) and take care to ensure the record you wish to view covers the correct dates. The records can be identified through our Online Catalogue. We also have the following guide to Congregational Church Records available for download.

  • CC/1 - George Street Chapel (The Loch Kirk) and Belmont Street Church, 1865-1966
  • CC/2 - St Andrew Street Chapel, 1846-1849 and St Paul Street Church, 1849-1938
  • CC/3 - Albion Street Church, 1847-1938 and Albion and St Paul Street Church, 1938-1966
  • CC/4 - St Nicholas Church (in Belmont Street), 1966 - 1995
  • CC/5 - Frederick Street, Dee Street, Blackfriars Street and Skene Street Churches, 1807-1974
  • CC/6 - Woodside Church (also known as Printfield) in Great Northern Road, 1818-1969
  • CC/7 - Bon Accord Street Church, 1897-1937
  • CC/8 - Mastrick Congregational Church, Long Walk Road, c.1950-1999
  • CC/9 - Trinity Church (Shiprow) 1878-1982 
  • CC/10 - Westhill Congregational Church (formerly Blackhills Church)
  • CC/11 - Huntly Congregational Church
  • CC/12 - Macduff Congregational Church (known as Banff and Macduff Congregational Church from 1862)
  • CC/13 - Aberdeen Congregational Church Council
  • CC/14 - Northern Association of Congregational Churches
  • CC/15 - Congregational Union of Scotland
  • CC/16 - Miscellaneous publications relating to the Congregational Church
  • CC/17 - Middleton Park Congregational Church, Bridge of Don
  • CC/18 - Inverurie Congregational Church
  • Acc. 1615 Rhynie Congregational Church

Records of the Episcopal Church are also held by the University of Aberdeen's Special Collections Centre  and the University of Dundee Archive Service (for St James' in Stonehaven, St Ternan's at Muchalls, and St Laurence's, Laurencekirk).

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