Sunday 16 October 2011

How many Scottish church denominations?

The following is a post from my Walking in Eternity blog made originally in February of this year which might be of interest to those having problems finding pre-1855 births or baptisms!

If you are having problems trying to find a pre-1855 birth in Scottish parish records, here's a wee eye opener as to why that might be. The ScotlandsPeople website ( only hosts the registers of the Church of Scotland and the Roman Catholic churches. But there were plenty more!

The following is a list of church denominations, and the number of premises they had, as returned for the Religious Worship Census of 1851, taken alongside the main decennial census on March 30th-31st.

Established Church 904
Reformed Presbyterian Church 37
Original Secession Church 30
Relief Church 2
United Presbyterian Church 427
Free Church 824

Episcopal Church 112
Independents or Congregationalists 168
Baptists 100
Society of Friends 6
Unitarians 5
United Brethren, or Moravians 1

Wesleyan Methodists:
* Original Connexion 61
* Primitive Methodists 10
* Independent Methodists 1
* Wesleyan Reformers 1

Glassites, or Sandemanians 6
New Church 5
Campbellites 1
Evangelical Union 27

Isolated Congregations:
* Various 8
* Common 2
* Unsectarian 1
* City Mission 7
* Christians 7
* Christian Disciples 14
* Christian Reformation 1
* Reformed Christians 1
* Free Christian Brethren 1
* Primitive Christians 2
* Protestants 4
* Reformation 1
* Reformed Protestants 1
* Separatists 1
* Christian Chartists 1
* Denomination not stated 6

Roman Catholics 104
Catholic and Apostolic Church 3
Latter Day Saints, or Mormons 20
Jews 1

(Extracted from Table A: Summary of the Whole of Scotland, p.2-3, from Histpop at

So just a few more denominations to think about!

I have written a book entitled Discover Scottish Church Records for Australian based genie venture Unlock the Past (, which can be ordered online here.

For a brief summary explaining the number of factions, however, you can visit my website at for a quick history of the Scottish kirk!



  1. I remember seeing a website showing spilts and recombination of factions of the Established Church. It is quite a tangled even without the other religion. I have a few members Dean and Chalmers Free Church, Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland,just a group belonging to the free church?

    Where might I find Baptist records. I have one lay preacher in Lundie.

  2. The web address for the chart is at

    Some Baptists records at NRS in Edinburgh, catalogued under COM or IRS (see - useful discussion on Baptists in D. J. Steel's National Index of Parish Registers Vol 12: Sources for Scottish Genealogy and Family History