"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.]



  • Handlist of bibliography of the shires of Aberdeen, Banff and Kincardine
    Alexander W Robertson
    Published Aberdeen, 1893
  • A concise bibliography of the history, topography and institutions of the shires of Aberdeen, Banff and Kincardine
    James F K Johnstone
    Published Aberdeen, 1914 (Aberdeen University Press)
  • Bibliographia Aberdonensis: being an account of books relating to or printed in the shires of Aberdeen, Banff, Kincardine or written by natives or residents or by officers, graudates or alumni of the Universities of Aberdeen
    James F K Johnstone & Alexander W Robertson
    Published Aberdeen, 1929 (2 volumes)


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 & Travel

  • The eastern counties: Aberdeenshire, Angus and Kincardineshire
    Nigel Tranter
    Published London, 1972
  • Banff and district
    (ed) Edmund I. Spriggs
    Published 1919, Banff (Banffshire Journal)
  • The north-east: the shires of Banff, Moray, Nairn, with Easter Inverness and Easter Ross
    Nigel Tranter
    Published 1974, London (Hodder & Stoughton)


The place name data contained within these pages has been extracted from a number of sources, of varying ages, precision and reliability, and this variability has implications for how the data is displayed. The sources, and the display conventions used for them are detailed here.



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

  • The Rootsweb MORAY list covers the three counties of Moray, Nairn and Banff. To subscribe to MORAY-L ( or to its digest form MORAY-D), send an email message to MORAY-L-request[at]rootsweb[dot]com (or MORAY-D-request[at]rootsweb[dot]com). Leave the subject field blank and put "subscribe" in the body of the message.
  • Aberdeen and North East Scotland Family History Society (ANESFHS) covers Banffshire (along with Aberdeenshire, Kincardineshire and Moray) and has its own Mailing List. There is a link to this Mailing List on the ANESFHS website.
  • The Rootsweb ABERDEEN list is nominally restricted to Aberdeenshire, but in view of the numerous parishes which were shared between Aberdeenshire and Banffshire, and the long-standing movements of people between the two, questions relating to Banffshire may appear here, too. To subscribe to ABERDEEN-L (or to its digest form ABERDEEN-D), send an email message to ABERDEEN-L-request[at]rootsweb[dot]com (or ABERDEEN-D-request[at]rootsweb[dot]com). Leave the subject field blank and put "subscribe" in the body of the message.


The "New Statistical Account of Scotland, Vol. XIII" (pub. 1845) includes a map of the parishes of Banffshire at that date.
You can download a copy of the complete map or just one part of it; additionally, on each parish page is a diagram showing which section that parish is in.


Poor Houses, Poor Law

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.