Lists of Roman Catholics in early 18th century Scotland

A few years ago I bought the entire collection of the Scottish Genealogy Society’s journal, The Scottish Genealogist, and from time to time I take a batch of them and read through. Many of the articles are quite dated on the technology front (the journal started in 1954!), as is the language used, but one of the real joys is the amount of knowledge locked away within them about resources which are just not noted in any books that I have come across elsewhere on research sources.

One brief article that I have just read from the December 1991 issue (Vol. 38, No. 4), for example, is entitled Catholic Records, which is uncredited, but which over the course of three pages lists which records of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland contain letters and documents naming Roman Catholics (‘papists’) living within various Scottish parishes in the early 1700s. The records are catalogued under CH1/2/5 and CH1/2/29-34. 

The article provides specific references for individual parishes and presbyteries in which lists of Catholics are identified. The same information can be gleaned today for these collections using the modern NRS catalogue (, by placing CH1/2/5 in the Reference box, and clicking search, which in this case generates 5 results:

  • CH1/2/5/1, Church Papers, 1701-1705
  • CH1/2/5/2, Church Papers, 1700-1705
  • CH1/2/5/3, Church Papers, 1702-1706
  • CH1/2/5/4, Church Papers, 1706-1707
  • CH1/2/5/5, Church Papers, 1700-1706

However, each of these references, when clicked on for more detail, provides further details of five bound manuscript volumes, with further references to holdings contained within them given in considerably more detail, but also for parishes where none were recorded (not identified in the article). 

If I do a further search on the second reference above, CH1/2/5/2, the following additional details are included, amongst the many items collected, for lists of Catholics found or not found:

MSS bound – Part Two

  • 149-154. Lists of Papists within the Presbytery of Edinburgh in various years 1700-1704.
  • 155. List of Papists in Aberdeen, 1705.
  • 156. List of Papists in Urr, 1705.
  • 157. List of Papists in the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright above the Water of Dee.
  • 158. List of Papists in the Sheriffdom of Dumfries. 1705.
  • 159. List of Papists in the Regality of Terregles and Kirkcungeon. 1705.
  • 161. Names of the few papists in Kincardineshire. 1705.
  • 162. List of papists in Morayshire. 1705.
  • 163-164. Declarations by Town Clerk and Sheriff of Selkirk. [No papists] 1705.
  • 165. No. papists in Atholl. 1705.
  • 166. No. papists in Dunbar. 1705.
  • 167. Names of papists in Musselburgh. 1705.
  • 168. Names of papists in Leith. 1705.
  • 169. Names of papists in Dalkeith.
  • 170. List of papists in Canongate. 1705.
  • 171. List of papists in Forfar. 1705.
  • 172. List of papists in Linton. 1705.
  • 173. Names of papists in Glasgow. 7 March 1705.
  • 174. Names of papists in Cupar. 5 March 1705.
  • 175. List of papists in Edinburgh. 9 Feb. 1705.

And there are of course others found within the general references quoted above.

The journal discussed here is, if of interest, available from the Scottish Genealogy Society’s shop at as a downloadable PDF document, priced at just £1.

I’ll occasionally flag up a few more gems from time to time, as and when I find them!