"A considerable village and parish in the division of Berwickshire, called Merse or March. The village is situated on Chirnside-hill, one of the eminences which, disjointed from the Lammermuir ridge, project into the low country. It is distinguished for its regular and semi-circular aspect on the S. and for its gradual declination to the Whitadder water; and commands a view of one of the richest counties in Scotland, with a prospect of that various and rural beauty which never fails to expand and delight the mind of the spectator. The village consists of 2 streets, running over the summit of the hill, nearly half a mile in length; but the houses are generally mean, and built of clay. As a borough of barony, it has the privilege of holding an annual fair, chiefly for the sale of sackcloth and linen yarn. It is the seat of a presbytery, and contains upwards of 600 inhabitants. The parish of Chirnside is an oblong figure, the length of which is about 4, and the breadth 3 miles. The surface is flat, with the exception of Chirnside-hill; and the soil is a rich loam, abundantly fertile ... Population in 1801, 1147." From the Gazetteer of Scotland published 1806, Edinburgh.



Pre-1855 inscriptions for the parish are contained in the Scottish Genealogy Society's volume of Berwickshire Monumental Inscriptions (Pre-1855).

Presbyterian / Unitarian
Chirnside, Church of Scotland


Graham and Emma Maxwell have transcribed and indexed the 1841, 1851 and 1861 census returns for this parish.



Presbyterian / Unitarian
Chirnside, Church of Scotland

Church Records

The parish church (Church of Scotland) has registers dating from 1660. Old Parish Registers (before 1855) are held in the National Records of Scotland in Edinburgh, and copies on microfilm may be consulted in local libraries and in LDS Family History Centres around the world. Later parish registers (after 1855) are often held in the National Records of Scotland as are any records of non-conformist churches in the area (often unfilmed and unindexed, and only available there).

Graham and Emma Maxwell have transcribed and indexed the Chirnside Burials 1817-1854.

The Scottish Genealogy Society has published "Berwickshire Miscellany - Ayton & Chirnside" containing Ayton Communion Certificates 1829-1848, Ayton Communion Certificates received 1830-1839, Chirnside Male Heads of Families 1834-1837, and Chirnside Register of Interments 1817-1841.

The parish registers available worldwide on microfilm include some kirk session records:

  • In part 730/1: accounts for 1660-1669, minutes for 1704-1716, and records of discipline for 1681-3
  • In part 730/2: accounts for 1704-1810

More information on kirk sessions and their records can be found in the Church Records section of the Berwickshire page.

The presence of non-conformist churches in the parish is revealed by Rutherfurd's Southern Counties Register and Directory which lists the following in the year 1866:

  • United Presbyterian Church
  • Reformed Presbyterian Church

There may have been other non-conformist churches at different times.

Registers for the Reformed Presbyterian church at Chirnside are available in LDS family history centres around the world. These include christenings for 1843-1860 and marriages for 1844-1860.


Civil Registration

Registration of Births, Marriages and Deaths began in Scotland on 1st January 1855. For further details of this see the National Records of Scotland website.


Description & Travel

You can see pictures of Chirnside which are provided by:





See Chirnside past and present by Erica Hunt (25 pages), published at Chirnside in 1975.



Ordnance Survey maps covering Chirnside include:

  • Landranger 67: Duns, Dunbar & Eyemouth area - scale 1:50000, or 1.25inch:1mile, or 2cm:1km
  • Pathfinder 437: Chirnside - scale 1:25000, or 2.5inch:1mile, or 4cm:1km

Chirnside is also covered by an old Victorian one-inch to the mile Ordnance Survey map published by Caledonian Maps. The relevant sheet is sheet number 34 "Eyemouth" which also includes Burnmouth, Chirnside, Cockburnspath, Coldingham, Edrom, Foulden, Grantshouse, Preston and St Abb's Head.

The National Records of Scotland holds the following as part of its collection of maps and plans:

  • 1805: Plan of division of Chirnside Common. Scale 1:1600. Size 160x297cm. Grid (map) reference NT4766. NRS reference RHP.3550
  • 1838: Plan of estate of Whitehall, including Chirnside village (houses numbered to correspond to table of occupants' names). Scale 1:7900. Size 54x69cm. Grid (map) reference NT8755. NRS reference RHP.3703/1-5,3713
  • 1848: Chirnside Feus. Scale 1:1600. Size 186x71cm. Grid (map) reference NT8756. NRS reference RHP.3722

You can see maps centred on OS grid reference NT880568 (Lat/Lon: 55.804163, -2.192536), Chirnside which are provided by:



Here are some figures showing the parish's population through time:

  • 1755 - 383
  • 1791 - 961
  • 1801 - 1147
  • 1811 - 1239
  • 1821 - 1189
  • 1831 - 1248
  • 1861 - 1502


Some records of the Chirnside branch of the Educational Institute of Scotland (a teaching union) are held in the National Records of Scotland in Edinburgh. Their NAS reference is GD342 and they consist of minutes covering the years 1847-1882. (source: National Register of Archives).