Glenlyon History Society

Comann Eachdraidh Ghleann Lìomhann

The Glenlyon HS, Scotland, is run by local residents of Glenlyon (map) with an interest in the local history of the glen.


Counties and Parishes

Scotland is divided into counties. Before 1855 the counties were divided into parishes, based around the churches. When civil registration was introduced in 1855 the old parishes generally became registration districts, with some new districts being formed. Each parish has a name, and the following registration districts were given numbers. The GENUKI web site is an excellent point to view the hierarchy of Scotland's counties and parishes.

Glenlyon is an area in the parish of Fortingall. Since 1855 Fortingall has been registration district 355A.

There is one small quirk peculiar to the parish of Fortingall. It contains within it two areas which actually belong to the neighbouring parish of Weem (Registration District 398). The small outposts of Weem seem to relate to a historical setup where lands belonging to the McGregors have never been part of the old Barony of Glenlyon. Alexander Stewart gives his explanation in A History of the Parish of Fortingall:

We already noted that the Roro Toiseachd was not included in the Barony of Glenlyon at any time in its recorded history. This district consists of a stretch of about four miles along the southern bank of the Lyon. It extends from the eastern march of Innerinian (that is, from about 5 miles beyond the Pass of Glenlyon) to the western march of Roroyare. It also included the side glen of Lochs which, in older days, was used as a sheiling ground or summer grazing by the tenants of the lower lands. The Roro Toiseachd was granted to the Menzieses of Weem early in the fifteenth century, but its most intimate association is with the MacGregors of Roro. The latter seem to have possessed it for at least three and a half centuries. And it is probable, as Duncan Campbell maintains in the Lairds of Glenlyon, that they occupied it as kingly or crown tenants before it was granted to the Menzieses. It is, however, difficult to ascertain the exact relationship between the Menzieses and MacGregors when the district was granted to the former. It may be that the Menzieses never came into direct possession of it. They may have only been overlords, while the MacGregors were in actual possession. If they did have direct possession, they did not retain it for long, for by the middle of the 15th century we hear of it being in possession of the MacGregor chiefs. The Menzieses, however, continued to exercise some sort of overlordship over it till 1680, and we do not know the exact conditions of tenure on which it was given to the MacGregors. They may, indeed, have varied from time to time.

Two relics of the connection of the Roro Toiseachd with the Menzieses of Weem remained until quite recently. (1) The lands were made part of the parish of Weem and remained so till near the end of the 19th century, when they were transferred by the Boundary Commissioners to the civil Parish of Fortingall. In early days the minister of Weem used occasionally to go up the Glen to preach to his Toiseachd parishioners. This practice continued till the beginning of the 19th century, when a missionary was appointed to the church at lnnerwick. This mission charge was raised later to the status of a quoad sacra parish. (2) An endowment of £5 per annum was contributed by the parish of Weem to support a school, first at Roro, and when that was closed at Cambusvrachain. This arrangement continued till the Education Act of 1872, which completely overhauled the old provisions for education.

Getting Started

Always begin your research by gathering as much information from family members. It is surprising how much you can learn, particularly from older members of your family. If you are lucky you may discover old birth, marriage and death certificates for ancestors, deeds for family graveyard plots (lair certificates), family bibles etc. all which will be useful in your search.

Carole Wilson's site has example birth, marriage and death certificates and these illustrate the sort of information on a typical certificate.

Once you have exhausted family sources you can then move on to the various archives to further your search. The main archives you are likely to use are listed below.

Official Sources

Scotland's People (Birth, marriage & death certificates & Census returns from 1841 – 1901.) This is the Official government website for genealogy in Scotland. The site operates a pay to view system for searching the records. There is also a wealth of information provided on the website which is free to access.

Official registration began in Scotland in 1855 with the introduction of The Registration of Births, Deaths and Marriages (Scotland) Act 1854. Prior to this time there was no requirement to register births, marriages and deaths. The website has digital images of all records from 1855. There are some restrictions. Under the privacy laws you cannot view birth entries under 100 years old, marriages under 75 years old and deaths under 50 years old. At present you can search online for Births 1855-1905, Marriages 1855-1930, Deaths 1855-1955

Census returns have been taken every ten years since 1841. Under the 100 year privacy rule the most recent census return open to the public is 1901. The census return is an excellent source for locating family groups as well as identifying occupations, ages and birthplaces. These can be searched online at a cost, though we have transcribed the Glenlyon portions for some censuses and these are freely available and listed below.

You can also use Scotland's People to search for Wills and Testaments up until 1901.

If you wish to locate birth, marriage or death certificates for people after the dates mentioned above there are various options. The General Registrar for Scotland has further information.

The National Archives of Scotland includes Land and Property Records, Court Records, Kirk Session and other Conformist and Non Conformist Church Records. (Not all records are complete. It is best to make check before visiting whether the records you require exist or are held in this archive.)

Other Sources

If your ancestors were born prior to 1855 their births, marriages and deaths may not be recorded. There was no legal obligation to register events prior to 1855. Many churches kept their own records of births/baptisms and marriages. These are known as the Old Parish Registers. (They are indexed on the Scotland’s People website and the full entry is scheduled to be digitally imaged sometime in 2006. This will be a pay to view service) The Mormons (LDS/IGI)have indexed many of these records and they are free to search. There is no index for deaths recorded in the Old Parish Registers.

Monumental Inscriptions are a useful source for searching pre 1855 deaths. Some of the graveyards in the Glen are transcribed on this website. If you are lucky enough to find a gravestone for your family it can be a good source for identifying other family members not previously recorded in your research.

It can be difficult to research individuals and families prior to 1855 due to the limited number of sources available for the period.

The North Perthshire Family History Group have a transcription of the 1881 Census Return for Fortingall. They also have all deaths in Fortingall parish from 1855 to 1938. There are other sources which may be useful if your family moved around the Perthshire area.


Census Records

There was a census every decade from 1841 to the present day. The most recent publically available data is from 1901 (100 year privacy rule.)

General Reference

Use SCROL to view the most recent census analysis for Scotland or any area of Scotland.

Scotland's Family have a wealth of links and information to help you with you research.

Glenlyon HS Membership

The Society endeavours to meet three times a year. For meeting details see the bulletin board.