Around 1000 volumes of Church of Scotland archives have recently been transferred from the National Archives of Scotland in Edinburgh to the Highland Archive and Registration Centre in Inverness.
On a visit by the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland to Inverness this week, the Moderator, Rt Reverend Bill Hewitt marked the importance of the return of volumes dating from the 1640s to the 20th century covering parishes in the presbyteries of Inverness, Ross, Sutherland, Lochcarron Skye, and part of Moray.
The occasion of the Moderator’s visit was marked by the presentation to the Archive Service of the earliest surviving volume of Kirk Session minutes from St Columba High Church, Inverness. The volume presented dates from 1843, the year of the Disruption. Along with the volume a DVD on the history of the church was also presented to the archive.
Rev Hewitt said: “It is with great pleasure that we entrust the records of the Church of Scotland and St Columba High Church to the Highland Archives. I am certain that locals and visitors to Inverness and the Highlands will be delighted to use them. We are pleased not just for the Church but also for the community that these records are being returned to the Highlands.
He added: “I understand that some of the records have already been recorded digitally in Edinburgh, however the real thing will mean so much more to people researching their family history here in the Highlands.”
Welcoming the addition of the church records to the Highland Archives Councillor Bill Fernie, Chairman of The Highland Council’s Education, Culture and Sport Service said: “The Church of Scotland’s repatriation of these archive records to the Highlands is excellent news. This reinforces one of the key purposes of the state of the art Highland Archive Centre to provide appropriate facilities and services for the retention of Highland archives in the Highlands.
“For the first time these important documents will be available locally to family and local historians. I am certain that the records will hold a wealth of invaluable social history information within the collection that will be of great interest to many people including information on baptisms, marriages and funerals.”
Accompanying Rev Hewitt on his visit to the Highland Archive and Registration Centre were Mr Willie Weatherspoon (retired Head Teacher of Millburn Academy and former Moderator of the Presbytery of Inverness); Rev Alastair Younger, Clerk of the Presbytery of Inverness and Christine MacKenzie, Presbytery Member of St Columba High Church.
During his visit the Moderator saw one of the archive repositories where the archives are preserved. He also viewed a small exhibition of some of the Church of Scotland archives returned from Edinburgh which were displayed in the archive search room.
While receiving the Church records into the Council’s care, Susan Beckley, Highland Council Archivist showed the Moderator some interesting features of the Church of Scotland collection that the archives staff had uncovered while they were cataloguing the collection. These included:
- Inverness Presbytery minutes, 1739-1751, containing reference to the Battle of Culloden;
- Kintail Kirk Session minutes, 1828-1881, covering the period of the Disruption; and
- Kiltearn Kirk Session minutes, 1697-1751, one of the earliest volumes transferred to the Archive Centre.
The Church of Scotland records can be viewed (without advance appointment) at the Highland Archive and Registration Centre, Bught Road, Inverness tel: 01463 256444.