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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, Congregational Churches, and Episcopal 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 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.  Session records for other Church of Scotland churches are located at the National Records of Scotland (NRS) in Edinburgh.

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 or download our Guide to Church of Scotland Records which can be found below. For example, St Nicholas is referenced 448, therefore the full reference number for the records of the St Nicholas Kirk Session is CH2/448 followed by the item number. If you wish to look at any of the records, please note the reference number (this always starts with CH2 for records relating to the Church of Scotland) and take care to ensure the record you wish to view covers the correct dates. If you are unsure of what an item is, staff are available to help.

Digitised Church of Scotland material from across Scotland can be accessed in both of our searchrooms. No original Kirk Session material is held at Old Aberdeen House, while the Town House does hold original material, including some which 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! You will also find that you may become distracted by some of the other information found in the minutes, even when not related to what you are looking for. Make sure you allow plenty of time for your research!

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 did run 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.

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.

We hold records for the following Episcopal Churches in the North East:

DD15 - Records of St. James' Episcopal Church, Aberdeen (1804-2005)
DD86 - Records of St. Clement' Episcopal Church, Aberdeen (1897-1972)
DD112 - Records of St. John's Episcopal Church, Portsoy (1861-1990)
DD307 - Records of St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, Banff (1723-1996)
DD321 - Records of St. Mary's Episcopal Church, Carden Place, Aberdeen (1861-1995)
DD522 - Records of St. Congan's Episcopal Church, Turriff
DD540 - Records of St. John's Episcopal Church, Crown Terrace, Aberdeen (1706-1992)
DD618 - Records of St. Luke's Episcopal Church, Cuminestown (1826-1991)
DD1034 - Records of St Margaret's Episcopal Convent, the Spital, Aberdeen (1860 - 2001)

DD1489 - Records of St Peter's Episcopal Church, Torry (1896 - 2008)

A full list of these can be found on our Online Catalogue by searching under the correct reference number. Other records relating to the Episcopal Church are also held by the University of Aberdeen's Special Collections and Archives.

The records contained within each collection vary. However, in general the records may include minutes, registers of baptisms, burial records, cash books, and church publications, including magazines.

Minute Books

The minute books of the Episcopal church contain information about financial affairs, administrative affairs, and meetings of the congregation. They can include details of members of the church, as well as confirmation of various events and decisions made.

The records are, on the whole, unindexed and therefore they can be time consuming to use, unless either an exact date or date range of an event taking place is known. Nonetheless, they are an extremely useful source and can help to provide background information.

Registers of Baptisms

Registers of Baptisms contain just that – a list of those who have been baptised by the various Episcopal Churches where such records have survived. Typically, you can expect to find the date of baptism, the name of the child, their parent(s), and their address. The information may vary, however, from church to church.

Some of the registers date from before 1855, when civil registration began in Scotland, and can therefore provide information which may not be found in the Old Parish Registers. A very worthwhile source! Our Online Catalogue will show which churches have such records, and the dates they cover. This can be found by searching for 'Episcopal baptisms' in the AnyText box.

Registers of Marriage

Marriage registers contain just that – information of those who were married by the various Episcopal Churches. Typically, you can expect to find the name of the couple, the date they were married, and their residence at the time – the information may vary from church to church, however.

Some of the registers date from before 1855, when civil registration began in Scotland, and can therefore provide information which may not be found in the Old Parish Registers. A very worthwhile source! Our Online Catalogue will show which churches have such records, and the dates they cover. This can be found by searching for 'Episcopal marriages' in the AnyText box.

Other Records

Other records held in the various Episcopal Church collections can help you in your research. Church magazines can provide information on members of the congregation, cash books can provide evidence of payments to or from an individual, while records such as title deeds and other legal information can also throw up some surprises.

As always, the best thing to do is to contact us if you are unsure of anything, or make an appointment to come and see us and we will do our best to help you in your search.

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), 1966date (going concern in 1996)
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, 1821-date (going concern)
CC/7 - Bon Accord Street Church, 1897-1937 (ceased in 1937)
CC/8 - Mastrick Congregational Church in Long Walk Road, 1954-date (still a going concern 1995)
CC/9 - Trinity Church (Shiprow) 1878-1982 (ceased in 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


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