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Location of Keith Parish

See the Maps Section below for links to a fully-detailed version of this location plan.

"The parish is about 6 miles long and as many broad. It lies in that fertile track of country called Strathisla, through which runs the water of Isla. It is bounded on the north, by the parishes of Rathven and Deskford; on the south, by those of Glass and Botriphnie; on the east, by Grange. The prevailing soil is loam and clay : the climate moist and cold.

The general appearance of the parish is not very inviting. Yet, along the banks of the Islay, there are beautiful and rich cornfields in the highest state of cultivation. The course of the Islay through the parish may be said to be from south to north."

from: The New Statistical Account of Scotland (1842)


Aberdeen And North-East Scotland FHS (ANESFHS) have published a name Index to the 1851 Census for Banffshire. Keith (together with Grange, Boharm and Botriphnie) is published as code AA216.

ANESFHS also hold unpublished indexes and transcriptions of the 1861 Census for most Banffshire parishes (including Keith).

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Church Records

Kirk of Scotland
Catholic Records
Copies of he following registers for St Thomas, Keith are held at the National Archives of Scotland with the catalogue numbers shown:
Kirk Session Records

Kirk Session records generally include records of Discipline, which often include information on illegitimate births, and Accounts, which may mention persons on Poor Relief. The surviving Keith Kirk Session records are listed on a separate webpage.

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Description and Travel

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Historical Geography

Under the great Parish/County realignment of 1891, Keith underwent two changes.

  1. An area of the parish immediately to the west of the town of Keith was, until 1891, reckoned as belonging to Moray. By an order which came into force in that year, that part of the parish of Keith was transferred to Banffshire.
  2. On the eastern side of the parish lies the parish of Cairnie. While the major part of this parish was always reckoned as belonging to Aberdeenshire, a small part belonged to Banffshire until 1891. By an order in that year, this area was transferred to the parish of Keith.

The first of these changes is unlikely to have had much effect, genealogically speaking, but the second may result in some families appearing to move, for Registration and Census purposes, from one county to the other.

For details of the places affacted, see the "Names, Geographical" section below"

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There is a wide range of maps available for Keith, historical and modern, on paper and online. Many ancient placenames continue in use, and will therefore appear on modern maps, but as parishes ceased to be of any significance for Local Government in Scotland in 1974, parish boundaries will be found only on historical maps.

Maps on Paper
Maps Online

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Names, Geographical

Because of the complicated history of the parish (see'Historical Geography' above), the placenames of Keith have been split into three separate Gazetteer lists. You can view:

Of course, there are overlaps between the older and newer Gazetteer lists, but in compiling these lists, we have referred only to sources which were valid when the different parts of the parish existed. So the "Keith (Moray)" and "Cairney (Banffshire)" lists use only the 1887 sheets of the Ordnance Survey maps, while the "post-1891" list refers only to the 1896 edition of the OS map, and the modern Landranger and Explorer sheets.

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Poorhouses, Poor Law etc

Under the "Poor Law Amendment Act, Scotland" (1845) responsibility for Poor Relief was taken from the Parishes of the Kirk of Scotland, and vested in new Parochial Boards, whose territories largely coincided with the old parishes. The Parochial Boards were not (as in England) grouped into Poor Law Unions, and there were few Poorhouses outside the cities and large towns.

Day-to-day administration of the Poor Law was in the hands of the Inspector of the Poor for each parish, and these Inspectors were obliged by law to maintain detailed records of applications and of relief supplied. The most valuable of these are the "Record of Applications" and the "General Register of the Poor". The "Minutes" are very variable, but on occasion can also contain information on named individuals.

Extensive Poor Law records have survived for the Parish of Keith:

These are held by Aberdeen City Archives under catalogue numbers BC 6/16/9 to BC 6/16/24. The records are available for viewing, subject to the 100-year rule.
Items marked * are included in a name index compiled by Aberdeen And North-East Scotland FHS (ANESFHS), and held by both ANESFHS and Aberdeen City Archives.

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Last updated: 10 Jun 2004, Gavin Bell

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