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"Inverness-shire, a highland county of Scotland, bounded N. by Ross and Cromarty, and the Beauly and Moray Firths, N.E. by the shires of Nairn and Elgin, E. by Banff and Aberdeenshires, S.E. by Perthshire, S. by Argyllshire and W. by the Atlantic. It includes the Outer Hebrides south of the northern boundary of Harris, and several of the Inner Hebrides ... and is the largest shire in Scotland. It occupies an area of 2,695,037 acres, or 4211 sq. m., of which more than one-third belongs to the islands. The county comprises the districts of Moidart, Arisaig and Morar in the S.W., Knoydart in the W., Lochaber in the S., Badenoch in the S.E. and the Aird in the N. Excepting comparatively small and fertile tracts in the N. on both sides of the river Ness, in several of the glens and on the shores of some of the sea lochs, the county is wild and mountainous in the extreme and characterized by beautiful and in certain respects sublime scenery. There are more than fifty mountains exceeding 3000ft. in height, among them Ben Nevis (4406), the highest mountain in the British Isles, the extraordinary assemblage of peaks forming the Monadhliadh mountains in the S.E., Ben Alder (3757) in the S., and the grand group of the Cairngorms on the confines of the shires of Aberdeen and Banff."
Extract from Encyclopaedia Britannica. 11th ed. Vol. 14. (Cambridge, 1910)
Inverness-shire Towns and Parishes
- Moy and Dalarossie
- North Uist
- Small Isles
- South Uist
- St Kilda
For Inverness-shire townships unconnected to parishes, see the list of Miscellaneous places mentioned in the 1868 gazetteer.
For Inverness-shire places mentioned in the 1868 gazetteer, see Where is it in Inverness-shire?
Note that some Inverness-shire parishes are also partly in Argyllshire.
In these cases, to avoid duplication, readers are directed to the Argyllshire pages.
The Highland Archive Service is responsible for locating, preserving and making accessible archives relating to all aspects of the history of the geographical area of the Highlands. It provides four archive centres, the Highland Archive and Registration Centre in Inverness; the Caithness Archive Centre in Wick; the Skye and Lochalsh Archive Centre in Portree; and the Lochaber Archive Centre in Fort William. An archive service booklet is available online.
Clan Donald Library at Armadale Castle on the Isle of Skye has archive collections, with the main collection being Lord Macdonald's estate papers c1500-1948. They also have all the usual genealogy sources (census, OPRs etc) plus very good secondary sources.
General advice on census records and indexes can be found on our Scotland Census page.
General advice on parish registers throughout Scotland can be found on our Scotland Church Records page.
Registration of Births, Marriages and Deaths began in Scotland on 1st January 1855. For details of these records and indexes to them, see our GRO tutorial and our Scotland Civil Registration page.
Records of testaments, inventories etc. are held at the National Records of Scotland.
"Inverness-shire, maritime co. in NW. of Scotland; is bounded N. by Ross and Cromarty and the Inner moray Firth, NE. by Nairnshire and Elginshire, E. by Banffshire and Aberdeenshire, SE. by Perthshire, S. by Argyllshire, and W. by the Atlantic; area, 2,616,498 ac.; pop. 90,454. Inverness-shire is the largest county in Scotland. It consists of 2 portions, insular and mainland. The insular portion embraces the island of Skye, the St Kilda group, and the whole chain of the Outer Hebrides, except Lewis.
The mainland portion - intersected NE. and SW. by Glen More nan Albin and the Caledonian Canal - consists almost entirely of mountain, loch, and glen. Ben Nevis (4406 ft.), in the SW., at Fort William, is the highest mountain in Great Britain. The principal lochs are Loch Ness, Loch Arkaig, Loch Lochy, Loch Laggan, and Loch Ericht. The W. coast is indented by Loch Hourn, Loch Nevis, and Loch Moidart. The principal rivers are the Spey, the Ness, and the Beauly, on all of which are valuable salmon fisheries. With the exception of the northern seaboard, the glens contain nearly all the fertile land, and only about one-twentieth of the total acreage is under tillage, all the rest being wood and forest, heath, and stony waste. (For agricultural statistics, see Appendix.) There are nearly 300,000 ac. of deer forests, and about 1,700,000 ac. of heath, one-half of which affords pasturage for sheep; the other half serves only for grouse shooting. Inverness-shire is traversed by splendid military roads (constructed in the 18th century), by the Caledonian Canal, and in the N. and E. by the Highland Ry. The prevailing language is Gaelic. The county (insular and mainland) contains 26 pars. and parts of 10 others; the parl. and royal burgh of Inverness (part of the Inverness Burghs - 1 member), and the police burghs of Fort William and Kingussie. It returns 1 member to Parliament."
John Bartholomew's Gazetteer of the British Isles, 1887
The Hub of the Highlands: the book of Inverness and district: the centenary volume of Inverness Field Club, 1875-1975 [edited by Loraine Maclean of Dochgarroch]. The Albyn Press, 1975 ISBN 0-904505-03-0. (This was republished in 1990 by Mercat Press ISBN 0-901824-93-3.)
See the entry for Inverness-shire in the 1868 gazetteer.
Index to Secretary's and Particular Register of Sasines for Sheriffdoms of Inverness, Ross, Cromarty and Sutherland preserved in H.M. General Register House Edinburgh: HMSO, 1966. The first volume covers the years 1606 to 1608 and 1617 to 1660.
The dialects of Skye and Ross-shire Carl Hj. Borgstrom. Oslo: Norwegian Universities Press, 1941. (A linguistic survey of the Gaelic dialects of Scotland; v. 2)
- Rolls of Honour and War Memorials (monuments) are one good resource for family historians, but need to be addressed with some caution - it should not be assumed that they are either complete or accurate. Memorials (and Rolls of Honour) were created at the local parish level after asking the local inhabitants whose names should appear. Thus:
- Some names may have been omitted, for a variety of reasons.
- Some names may appear on more than one memorial.
- Some names may be misspelled, or given names transposed.
- Some people may be listed as killed in action, but were not.
- Some people may be listed who were not in the service at all.
- Some people may have been confused with others of a similar name.
- A Roll of Honour may sometimes list the names of all who served, not just those who died.
- Some of the original records may have been incorrect, for a variety of reasons.
- Some (more recent) research may be incorrect.
- View a list of the Rolls of Honour for Inverness-shire.
Place-names in Glengarry and Glenquoich and their origin by Edward C. Ellice. London, 1898. A second edition of this appeared in 1931, and that edition was reprinted in 1999 in a limited edition of 500 copies by the Glengarry Visitor centre.
Rum: island place-names P. Morgan, (published by Scottish Natural Heritage, 1999).
The Statistical Account of Scotland 1791-1799 edited by Sir John Sinclair. Vol. 17. Inverness-shire, Ross and Cromarty, with a new introduction by Malcolm Gray. EP Publishing 1983, ISBN 0 7158 1017 0.
The New Statistical Account of Scotland by the ministers of the respective parishes under the superintendence of a committee of the Society for the Benefit of the Daughters of the Clergy. Vol. 14. Inverness - Ross and Cromarty. Edinburgh: William Blackwood 1845.
Both the first and the second (New) Statistical Accounts have been digitised and made available online by Edinburgh Data and Information Access.
The County of Inverness edited by Hugh Barron. Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press, 1985 (The Third Statistical Account of Scotland) xvi, 651p., ill. ISBN 0 7073 0359 1.
The description of the Isle of Lewis which appeared in the first Statistical Account is presented separately, along with the accounts covering the other islands off the west of Scotland, in a compilation volume: The Statistical Account of Scotland 1791-1799 edited by Sir John Sinclair. Vol. 20. The Western Isles (of Ross, Inverness-shire and Argyll, with Bute) EP Publishing, 1983. ISBN 0-7158-1020-0.