Scottish Churches and their Records
The Old Parish Registers of the Church of Scotland can be accessed via Scotlands People. The dates of commencement for all Highland OPRs are given in Appendix 8 of Genealogy in the Gaidhealtachd.
Roman Catholic Registers can also be accessed via Scotlands People. The dates of commencement for all Roman Catholic Registers in the Highlands are given in Appendix 11 of Genealogy in the Gaidhealtachd.
The Registers of the Free and other Dissenting Churches are gradually being made available on Scotlands People, and in the meantime can be found in the National Archives of Scotland or in local archives - see SCAN. Entries from the Registers of some Free and other Dissenting Churches in the Highlands have been transcribed and published by the Highland Family History Society - see the Publications pages of the HFHS website - and lists of the known registers of these churches in the Highlands, with their dates of commencement and location, can be found in the appendices of Genealogy in the Gaidhealtachd.
The Registers of the Episcopal Church of Scotland have yet to be made available on Scotlands People, and in the meantime can be found in the National Archives of Scotland, or in local archives - see SCAN. The few Episcopal Church Registers that survive for the Highlands are listed in Appendix 12 of Genealogy in the Gaidhealtachd.
The tendency of Presbyterian churches to split and form new congregations or churches can be very confusing, and is illustrated by the following account of one of the more originally named set of dissenting churches: The Burgher and Anti-Burgher Churches.
After the breakaway in the early 1700s of the Reformed Presbyterian Church (Cameronians, McMillanites etc), the Church of Scotland suffered another division in 1733 with the formation of the "Associate Presbytery". That grew into the "Associate Synod" in 1745, which encompassed three Presbyteries. Two years later however this new body itself split, and alongside the "Associate Synod" was established what later became known as the "General Associate Synod" - though the two bodies were better known, because of the subject of the split, as the "Burgher" and the "Anti-Burgher" Synods.
The Associate/Burgher Synod split again in 1799 into - guess what? - the "Associate Synod" and the "Burger Synod". The latter seems not to have flourished and eventually disappeared - its members probably rejoining the Associate Synod which in 1805 took the additional name of the "Original Burgher Synod".
Meanwhile the Anti-Burgher Synod continued to call itself the "Associate Synod" until 1788, when it formally became the "General Associate Synod". In 1805 it too split, with a new body calling itself the "Constitutional Associate Presbytery" alongside the continuing "General Associate Presbytery". The latter appears to have faded away in due course, while the former renamed itself the " Original Secession Church ".
In 1820 the Original Burger Church (successors of the Associate/Burgher Synod) merged with the Original Secession Church (successors of the General Associate/Anti-Burgher Synod) to form the "United Secession Church"; and in 1847 the United Secession merged with the "Relief Church" - which had broken away from the Church of Scotland in 1761 - to form the "United Presbyterian Church". By then of course the "Disruption" had taken place (1841) and the split from the Church of Scotland of the Free Church was to start a whole new line of breakaway churches. And so it goes on, and on ....
The registers of some of the Burgher and Anti-Burgher congregations in the Highlands have been transcribed and published by the Highland Family History Society - see the Publications pages of the HFHS website and Appendix 10 of Genealogy in the Gaidhealtachd.
For other church records, see the Catalogue of the National Records of Scotland.