GENUKI Home page
Scotland Scotland   GENUKI Contents Contents   Towns and Parishes Index Banffshire
  Table of Contents for this page Information related
to all of Banffshire
  What's New on this site What's New on this site


"BANFFSHIRE, a maritime county in the NE. of Scotland, stretching about 56 miles between Aberdeenshire and the cos. of Elgin and Inverness, and comprising a small detached section in Aberdeenshire. It is very narrow in proportion to its length, and is broadest along the N., where the coast on the Moray Firth measures about 30 miles. Area, 640.8 sq. m., or 412,258 ac. Pop. 62,736, or 98 persons to each sq. m. The greater part of the S. section (about three-fourths of the entire length) is occupied with lofty mountains, finely wooded hills, and picturesque glens. The N. district is beautifully diversified with low hills, fine valleys, and small tracts of rich plain. The highest mountains, Ben Macdhui (4296 ft.) and Cairn Gorm (4080 ft.), are grouped on the SW. border. The rivers are the Spey, with its affluent the Fiddich; the Deveron, with its affluent the Isla; and the Boyne. There are quarries of slate and marble. The occupations are chiefly pastoral, but great numbers of the people are also employed in the fisheries. The co. comprises 19 pars., with parts of 11 others, the parl. and police burghs of Banff and Cullen (part of the Elgin Burghs), and the police burghs of Dufftown and Macduff. It returns 1 member to Parliament." [Bartholemew's Gazetteer of the British Isles, 1887]
Map showing location of Banffshire


Bartholemew's Gazetteer (quoted above), the Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland and the New Statistical Account all give different numbers of parishes belonging to Banffshire. The following list includes every parish which, perhaps in part only, or for a limited time, could be reckoned as belonging to Banffshire.

King Edward*
New Machar*
Old Deer*
St Fergus*

Those parishes marked "*" have undergone boundary changes which may be significant for genealogical purposes. Detailed comments will be found in the appropriate Parish entry, under Historical Geography. For a more general discussion of why Banffshire should have so many anomalous parishes, see the article on County versus Parish

If you are interested in a Banffshire location, but are uncertain which parish it might come under, you can use the GENUKI Gazetteer to find out:


Church Records
Civil Registration
Court Records
Description and Travel
Poorhouses, Poor Law etc



Memorial Inscriptions have been transcribed for a number of Banffshire kirkyards. These will be mentioned on the appropriate Parish page


There has been a census every ten years since 1801 (excluding 1941) but only those returns after 1841 (with a few earlier exceptions) carry details of named residents. Census returns for 1841-1901 can be consulted at the General Register Office in Edinburgh and copies on microfilm may be consulted in LDS Family History Centres around the world. LDS centres also carry microfiche indexes to the 1881 census returns. Family History Societies in various parts of the world may also hold these films and fiches. Computerised indexes for 1881, 1891 and 1901 are available at the General Register Office in Edinburgh and the 1881, 1891 and 1901 index is also available through Scotland's People. Facsimile pages of the 1891 and 1901 Census may also be viewed and downloaded from Scotland's People. Aberdeen And North-East Scotland FHS (ANESFHS) publish a series of printed Name Indexes to the 1851 Census for most Banffshire parishes. ANESFHS also holds unpublished indexes or transcriptions for many Banffshire parishes for 1861. Details are given on the appropriate Parish web-page.

Church Records

For information on Kirk of Scotland registers (baptisms, marriages and burials) for a particular parish, please see that parish's page (where available).

Banffshire has long had a significant Catholic minority. Information is given on the geographically closest Parish web-page about surviving Registers of Baptism, Confirmation, Marriage and Death.

Information is also included where available on surviving Secession and Free Kirk Registers.

Civil Registration

Registration of Births, Marriages and Deaths began in Scotland on 1st January 1855. For details of these and other records held at the General Register Office in Edinburgh, see the GRO tutorial.

It is possible to search the index to the civil BDMs, and to download or order extracts via Scotland's People, the official website.

It is also possible to view some of the civil BDMs on film .

Court Records

As part of the Scottish Archive Network there is a combined index to Scottish wills and testaments (covering the period 1500-1875, and comprising over 350,000 names). Searches are free, and digital images of documents can be downloaded for £5 each.

Description and Travel


There are three Mailing Lists which may be useful if you are searching for ancestors in Banffshire:

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.

Post-1845 Poor Law Records survive for many Banffshire parishes, and can be a rich source of information, not only about the individual pauper, but also about his or her parents and children. These are held by Aberdeen City Archives, who also hold a complete Name Index to the records (compiled by volunteers from Aberdeen And North-East Scotland FHS) . See the web-page for each parish for a note of which Poor Law records have survived.



For a social and economic record of the parishes of Banffshire, together with masses of statistical material, see Sir John Sinclair's Statistical Account of Scotland which was compiled in the 1790s. The account was reprinted in facsimile form in 1979 by EP Publishing Limited of Wakefield, England.

Follow-up works to this were the New Statistical Account (also known as the Second Statistical Account) which was prepared in the 1830s and 1840s; and more recently the Third Statistical Account which has been prepared since the Second World War.

Return to top of page.

This county is maintained by Gavin Bell

If you have found any errors or omissions, or have any suggestions about this page, please use the feedback form

Page created by Vivienne S Dunstan
[Last updated: 29 August 2010 - Gavin Bell]

Valid HTML 4.0!