Yester (or Gifford)


"YESTER, a parish, containing the post-office village of Gifford, and the hamlets of Long-Yester and Long-Newton, in Haddingtonshire. It is bounded on the south by Berwickshire, and on the other sides by the parishes of Humbie, Bolton, Haddington, and Garvald. Its length north-north-eastward is six miles; its greatest breadth is 5 miles; and its area is about 14 square miles"
[From the Imperial Gazetteer of Scotland, edited by John Marius Wilson, 1868]
A lengthier description is available


The Statistical Account (1835) entry for Yester is available here.



The Scottish Genealogy Society has lists of inscriptions in this parish up to a recent date. These lists have not yet been published and may be viewed at the society's library in Edinburgh. Similar lists may be available elsewhere, for example in the East Lothian District Library's Local History Centre at Newton Port in Haddington.


Church Records

The parish church (Church of Scotland) has registers dating from 1654. Old Parish Registers (before 1855) are held in the General Register Office for 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 Scottish Record Office as are any records of non-conformist churches in the area (often unfilmed and unindexed, and only available there).

The Kirk Session records of a parish can be useful source material and are often overlooked by researchers. The Kirk Session consisted of the minister of the parish together with the elders of the congregation. Its role is largely to look after the general wellbeing of the congregation and, particularly in centuries past, parochial discipline. Most Kirk Session records are held in the Scottish Record Office in Edinburgh and can be fascinating reading. An article based on research in the Yester kirk session records (SRO reference CH2/377) is described below.


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.


Description & Travel

You can see pictures of Yester (or Gifford) which are provided by:



Extracts for this parish from the 1868 National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland are available.



For an account of the origins of the village of Gifford, see The Origins of Gifford by John H. Simpson, published in the Transactions of the East Lothian Antiquarian and Field Naturalists' Society, 18th volume (1984), pp.5-21. This includes lots of references to inhabitants living there around 1700, sketch plans showing the development of the village, names of feuars, and a great many references to original documentary records from the time.



This map shows the location of the parish in the county.

The Scottish Record Office holds the following as part of its collection of maps and plans:

  • no date: Estate plan showing Newhall and Woodhead Houses. Size 58x74cm. Grid (map) reference NT5167. SRO reference RHP.769

You can see maps centred on OS grid reference NT528650 (Lat/Lon: 55.875402, -2.755872), Yester (or Gifford) which are provided by:


Poor Houses, Poor Law

For an account of poor relief in Yester in the late 17th century, see Rosalind Mitchison's article about A parish and its poor published in the Transactions of the East Lothian Antiquarian and Field Naturalists' Society, 14th volume (1974), pp.1-14. The article is largely based on research in the Kirk Session records for the parish at this time, held in the Scottish Record Office.



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



For a social and economic record of the parishes of East Lothian together with considerable statistical material, see Sir John Sinclair's Statistical Account of Scotland, which was compiled in the 1790s. 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.

The Statistical Account (1835) entry for Yester is available here

Thanks to a joint venture between the Universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh the First and Second Statistical Accounts can now be accessed on-line at The Statistical Accounts of Scotland, 1791-1799 and 1845.