"A parish in Berwickshire, extending 6 miles in length along the N. bank of the Tweed, and from 2 to 3 in breadth. The western district is elevated, and is very picturesque. From the top of Bemersyde hill the prospect is grand, comprehending in one view, wood, water, hills, vallies, elegant mansions, and ruinous towers, uncultivated land, and fertile fields. The surface slopes gradually towards the S., and the whole land is inclosed, and in a high state of cultivation ... The parish is beautified by the plantations and pleasure grounds of Harden, the seat of Mr Scott,and by the magnificent ruins of the abbey of Dryburgh, near which the Earl of Buchan has built an elegant seat. The banks of the Tweed possess inexhaustible stores of excellent freestone. Population in 1801, 535." From the Gazetteer of Scotland published 1806, Edinburgh.



The Borders Family History Society has published a booklet of Mertoun monumental inscriptions. This contains the inscriptions at the old parish graveyard at Magdalene Hall farm, as well as the newer parish cemetery at Clintmains.

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



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


Church Records

The parish church (Church of Scotland) has registers dating from 1729. 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).


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

An account of the parish (history, topography etc.) may be found in the Borders Family History Society's booklet of monumental inscriptions.

You can see pictures of Mertoun which are provided by:





The St Boswells Village site includes information about the history of Mertoun parish.



You can see maps centred on OS grid reference NT620338 (Lat/Lon: 55.596502, -2.605235), Mertoun which are provided by:


Military Records

At the time of the Napoleonic wars, lists of young men in parishes were compiled so that should there be a need for them to fight, they could be drafted into the Militia. If there were not enough volunteers for a list, a ballot was used to select names for it.

In their booklet of Mertoun monumental inscriptions, the Borders Family History Society has included a transcript of the Mertoun militia list.



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

  • 1755 - 502
  • 1791 - 557
  • 1801 - 535
  • 1811 - 614
  • 1821 - 640
  • 1831 - 664
  • 1861 - 730


In the 1690s a tax was levied by Parliament on every hearth in Scotland. Both landowners and tenants had to pay this tax and are therefore recorded in the records which were kept at the time. A transcript of the hearth tax records for Mertoun parish (NRS reference E69/5/1) is included with the list of monumental inscriptions published by the Borders Family History Society.

Most taxation records are held at the National Records of Scotland in Edinburgh.