Keith, Banffshire, Scotland Genealogy

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Parish #159

This is a guide to the history and major genealogical records of Scotland as they pertain to the parish of Keith. To learn more about how to use these records to search for your ancestors, go to the Scotland: Research Strategies.


History[edit | edit source]

KEITH, a parish, partly in the county of Elgin, but chiefly in that of Banff; containing the villages of Fife-Keith and Newmills, 10½ miles (N. W.) from Huntly, and 49 (N. W.) from Aberdeen. This place, of which the name is of uncertain derivation, is of very remote antiquity; and the old town was, for many years, the principal seat of jurisdiction for the surrounding district. The church, which is situated in the centre of the parish, is a very handsome structure, in the later English style of architecture, with a square tower 120 feet high; it was built in 1816, and contains 1800 sittings. There are a Free Church, places of worship for members of the United Secession and Independents, and an Episcopal, and a fine Roman Catholic chapel.[1]

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 your parish of interest. Also available at the Family History Library.

Census Records[edit | edit source]

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 Keith as well as the library numbers for any surname indexes available:


Years Family History Library Film Number Surname Index            
1841 1042648INVALID/MISSING FHL number
1851 1042106   941.24 X22s v. 6
1861 103809INVALID/MISSING FHL number
1871 103969
1881 203440 6086520 (set of 3 Fiche)
1891 208656

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 indexes through the library.


Church Records[edit | edit source]

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[edit | edit source]

Record Type Year Covered Family History Library Film Number
Births: 1686-1740 0990999

1746-1772 0990999

1772-1819 0991000

1820-1854 0991063
Marriages: 1705-1819 0991000

1820-1854 0991063
Deaths: 1748-1819 0991000

1820-1854 0991063

Condition of Original Registers—

Index:  For an index to these records, see Scotland’s People website, a pay-for-view website. The Scottish Church Records Index is also still available at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.  Some records may be indexed in the International Genealogical Index.
Births: These were kept regularly. There is a duplicate of December 1696–June 1709. Prior to 1709, mothers’ names were not recorded.
Marriages: The greater portion of the page containing entries December 1764–March 1765 is destroyed. There are no entries July 1772–August 1779.
Deaths:  These are transcribed entries of Mortcloth Dues, etc., until 1828. Interments are listed 1828–1854.
Source:  Key to the Parochial Registers of Scotland, by V. Ben Bloxham, pub. 1970. British Book 941 K23b.

Established Church—Kirk Session Records[edit | edit source]

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:

Minutes - discipline 1709–1746, 1748–1769, 1772–1908
Poors’ Funds 1700–1707
Note:  Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, records CH2/570.

Nonconformist Church Records[edit | edit source]

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.


Keith First Secession Church[edit | edit source]

This group originated about 1765 and became part of the united congregations of Cabrach and Huntly, both in Aberdeenshire, Keith and Grange. The first minister served all four areas until 1775 when he confined himself to Huntly and left the rest to find other ministers. Keith and Grange were then united until 1785. The congregation built a church in 1780. This congregation still existed in 1873.
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 records is unknown.

Keith Second Secession Church, extinct[edit | edit source]

About 1800, a group withdrew from the First Secession Church and allied with “The Tabernacle Men” (the Haldane brothers who held independent beliefs), see Huntly congregation in Aberdeenshire, to form a new church. They applied to the Associate Burgher Presbytery of Perth for supply of sermon, which was granted. They built a church in 1801 but the congregation disbanded when the minister resigned in 1841 and the building was sold to the Free Church.
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 records is unknown.

Keith Free Church[edit | edit source]

The Free Church congregation began in 1839 when the Evangelicals left the Established Church. For a time they worshiped in one of the Secession Churches in Keith. When the Second Secession church building became available, they bought that building. In 1846, they built a new church and provided a school.
Membership: 1848, 450; 1900, 487.
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.
Extent of records is unknown.

Keith Congregational Church[edit | edit source]

A church in Keith began in 1801 but existed only briefly. In 1841 another church was formed and used the chapel built in 1801, but in the 1870s, it closed.
  A History of Scottish Congregationalism, by Harry Escott. Glasgow: Congregational Union of Scotland, 1960. Family History Library British Book 941 K2es. . Includes list of ministers

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

Keith Methodist Church[edit | edit source]

The chapel was bought in 1776; it was sold in 1839.

Extent of records is unknown. For information write to:
Methodist Archives and Research Centre
John Rylands University Library of Manchester
150 Deansgate
Manchester M3 3EH

St. Thomas Roman Catholic Church[edit | edit source]

It was dedicated to St. Thomas in 1831.
Source: Catholic Missions and Registers, 1700–1880, Scotland, by Michael Gandy, pub. 1993. Family History Library Brit Ref. Book 942 K24gm, vol. 6.

Registers of Births: 1836–1864.
Registers of Marriages: 18361864.
Confirmations: 1840–1855.
Easter Communicants: 1849–1855.
Note: Available online for a fee, at, Edinburgh, Scotland, record RH21/27

Keith Episcopal Church[edit | edit source]

According to the 1851 census, there were a total of 500 people attending services in four churches within the county. No other history is available. See also Banff, Fordyce, and Rathven parishes.

Registers of Christenings: 1801–1854 - in the hands of the incumbent
Registers of Marriages: 1851–1854 - in the hands of the incumbent
For more information contact the minister at:
All Saints House
14 Cluny Square
Buckie AB56 1HA

Civil Registration Records[edit | edit source]

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[edit | edit source]

Keith was under the probate jurisdiction of the Commissary Court of Moray until 1823, and since then has been under the Sheriff's Court of Banff.  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 catalogfor the 'Place-names' of Banff and the subject of 'Probate records.' Then click on the link to the records of the Commissariat of Moray.
The library also has some post-1823 probate records for Banff. Look in the library catalog for the 'Place-names' of Banff and the subjects of 'Probate Records' and 'Probate Records - Indexes.'

Read more about Scotland Probate Records.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Lewis, Samuel A., A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland (1846), pp. 499-514. Adapted. Date accessed: 26 June 2014.

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