ScotlandsPeople releases records of breakaway Presbyterian sects

By Rosemary Collins, 26 June 2017 - 2:00pm

The collection includes over 37,000 records of births, marriages and deaths


Thomas Nelson's son William was born in 1817

More than 37,000 records of breakaway sects of Presbyterianism were released on ScotlandsPeople today.

The collection includes records of 20,255 births and baptisms (1744-1855), 10,368 marriages and proclamations (1729-1855) and 5,422 deaths and burials (1783-1855).

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As well as dating from before the introduction of civil registration in 1855, the records cover Presbyterian denominations that separated themselves from the established church.

ScotlandsPeople is the website of the National Archives of Scotland and allows users to search indexes free of charge and use pay-per-view to view and download digital images of the records.

The website has already digitised Church of Scotland Old Parish Registers (OPRs) and approximately 700 Roman Catholic parish registers.

Seven sects were originally outside the Church of Scotland, or left it, but joined or rejoined at various points: the Reformed Presbyterian Church; the Original Secession (or First Secession) Church; the Associate Synods (Burghers and Antiburghers, and the Auld Licht Burghers, New Licht Burghers, Auld Licht Antiburghers and New Licht Antiburghers); the Relief Church; the United Secession Church; the United Presbyterian Church; and the Free Church.

Among the records can be found the births and baptisms of all nine children of Thomas Nelson, from CH3/1198/1 Edinburgh Martyrs' Reformed Presbyterian Church Kirk Session.

Nelson (1780-1861) was a bookseller and printer whose business expanded to America in 1854 and is now part of the HarperCollins publishing firm.

The records show that Nelson’s first child, Ann, was born in 1815 and his final child, Janet, was born in 1834.

Two of his sons, William, born in 1817, and Thomas, born in 1823, went on to help run his business.

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