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South Ronaldshay and Burray

"Ronaldshay, South, island and insular par., Orkney, par. (including also the islands of Burray, Hunda, Swona, and Pentland Skerries), 15,062 ac., pop. 3314; island, pop. 2557. South Ronaldshay island is the most southerly of the Orkneys with the exception of Pentland Skerries, is 7¾ miles in extreme length and from 1½ to 6 miles broad, and reaches an alt. of 389 ft.; at Burwick, in SW. of island, is the church of St Mary's, South Ronaldshay quoad sacra par., pop. 695."

From John Bartholomew's Gazetteer of the British Isles, 1887


  • For Freedom and Honour: by George Esson. Published by Information Plus. 2002. ISBN 0 9531563 5 4
    This book records the lives and deeds of all the men from South Ronaldsay who lost their lives in the two world wars.
  • My Heritage: South Cara: by Rachel M. Cromarty. Published: 1991 in Orkney Heritage Society Newsletter pp15-18.
  • The Soul of an Orkney Parish: by Rev. Stuart Picken. Published 1972. 120pp.
    History of the six churches in the parish; list of inhabitants 1696; list of Kirk Session Records.
  • Church Life in South Ronaldshay and Burray in the Seventeenth Century: by Rev. James B. Craven. Published 1911. 131pp.
    Includes extracts of Registers of baptisms and marriages 1657-1669 and lists of inhabitants in 1676 and 1696.
  • Place Names of South Ronaldshay and Burray by Gregor Lamb. Published 2006.
    Includes an introduction to the history of the islands, as documented and revealed by the place-names.


Lisa Conrad's amazing 1821 Census Project includes a full index to the 1821 census of South Ronaldsay and Burray as well as access to digital images of the actual census pages and an incredible amount of additional information about the inhabitants of these parishes.


You can also perform a more selective search for churches in the South Ronaldshay and Burray area that are recorded in the GENUKI church database. This will also help identify other churches in nearby townships and/or parishes. You also have the option to see the location of the churches marked on a map.

Church Records

Old Parish Registers - South Ronaldsay

  • Baptisms,1749-1854. Only two entries, 1760-72, very irregular 1772-81.
  • Marriages, 1784-1854. No entries 1786-87.
  • Burials, No entries.

Old Parish Registers - Burray

  • Baptisms, 1765-1854. Three pages of irregular entries 1763-97 after Feb 1794.
  • Marriages, 1779-1854. No entries 1780-1808.
  • Burials, 1832-1854.

Other church records (held at Orkney Archives in Kirkwall).

  • Ref: OCR/KC/21: St. Mary's Kirk (Lady Kirk of South Ronaldsay): Baptisms 1874-1884 and 1937-1958, Marriages and Proclamations of marriage banns 1876-1884 and 1939-1959, Communion Roll 1887-1930 and 1932-1959.
  • Ref: OCR/FC/28: So. Ronaldsay United Presb. Kirk/North United Free Kirk/St. Margaret's Kirk: Baptisms 1854-1856 and 1868-1948, Deaths 1854-1856, Communion Roll 1843-1959.
  • Ref: OCR/FC/5: Burray United Presb. Kirk/United Free Kirk/Burray South Kirk: Baptisms 1885-1919, Communion Roll 1887-1931.
  • Ref: OCR/KC/6: Burray Kirk: Baptisms 1904-1931 and 1934-1968, Proclamations of marriage banns 1904-1931 and 1938-1968, Communion Roll 1933-1966.
  • Ref; OCR/KC/24: So. Ronaldsay and Burray Kirk Session, St. Peter's Kirk: Baptisms 1858-1868 and 1875-1959, Proclamations of marriage banns 1875-1925, Burials register 1891-1928, Communion Roll 1876-1959, Proclamations (St Margaret's Hope) 1932-1959.

Civil Registration

The Registrar of births, deaths, and marriages for the parish of South Ronaldsay and Burray.
The Registrar's records extend back only as far as 1st January 1855 when registration became compulsory in Scotland.

Lisa Conrad's South Ronaldsay and Burray Civil Death Registers website lists deaths in South Ronaldsay and Burray from 1855 to 1900.

Description and Travel

You can see pictures of South Ronaldshay and Burray which are provided by:



An invaluable resource created by Lisa Conrad. A must for anyone with ancestors from South Ronaldsay and Burray.

Historical Geography

You can see the administrative areas in which South Ronaldshay and Burray has been placed at times in the past. Select one to see a link to a map of that particular area.


You can see maps centred on OS grid reference ND440890 (Lat/Lon: 58.785022, -2.970395), South Ronaldshay and Burray which are provided by: