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Help and advice for Bowden

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"A parish in the county of Roxburgh, extending in length about 6, and in breadth 4½ miles. There are a few eminences; but the surface is in general level ... There are remains of military road through the parish, and a ruin at Holydean, once a strong fortification, and the residence of the Dukes of Roxburgh. The family of Carre of Cavers, one of the most ancient in Scotland, have their seat in this parish. Population in 1801, 829."
From Gazetteer of Scotland published 1806, Edinburgh.


The Borders Family History Society has published a CD of Bowden monumental inscriptions.

The Scottish Genealogy Society has a listing of pre-1855 monumental inscriptions in Bowden churchyard. This is part of the society's collection of unpublished monumental inscription listings and may be viewed at the society's library in Edinburgh.

Nigel Hardie has transcribed and published parish of Ancrum mortcloth records for 1697-1803.


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


You can also perform a more selective search for churches in the Bowden 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 History

In the Bowden entry for the Statistical Account of Scotland (compiled 1790s, see the Statistics section of the Roxburghshire page for more details) the following comments were written:

"About one third of the inhabitants are Burghers and Antiburghers. The latter have a meeting-house in the parish; the congregation of which, from this and other parishes, pays their minister L.60 per annum."

Books about the local church include:

  • Bowden Kirk by William Cuthbertson, published in Edinburgh by James Thin in 1899.
  • A short guide to the parish kirk of Bowden by Ian B. Smith, published at Galashiels in 1973.
  • Bowden Kirk 1128-1978 by J.S.M. Macdonald, originally published in 1978, republished at Hawick by Bowden Kirk Session in 1994.

Church Records

The parish church (Church of Scotland) has registers dating from 1697. 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).

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:

  • Free Church
  • Original Secession Church (at Midlem)

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

The National Records of Scotland holds records of Midlem Original Secession Church among its collection of Miscellaneous Records (MR 60). These include records of births between the years 1748 and 1915.

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 and Travel

The Bowden Village website includes photographs and a history of the parish.

You can see pictures of Bowden which are provided by:

Historical Geography

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

Law and Legislation

A descriptive account of the records of one 16th century Bowden notary was published in 1997 by the Walter Mason Trust: The Protocol Book of Sir Ninian Brydin, 1536-1564 was transcribed, translated and edited by Teresa Maley and Walter Elliot. Sir Ninian Brydin was a notary in Selkirk from 1536 to 1545, worked in Edinburgh from 1546 to 1559, then returned to the Borders, working in the Bowden/Melrose area, between the years 1560 and 1564.


Ordnance Survey maps covering Bowden include:

  • Landranger 73: Peebles, Galashiels & surrounding area - scale 1:50000, or 1.25inch:1mile, or 2cm:1km
  • Outdoor Leisure 44: Tweed Valley (Peebles to St Boswells) - scale 1:25000, or 2.5inch:1mile, or 4cm:1km

Bowden 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 25 "Kelso & Melrose" which also includes Earlston, Galashiels, Gordon, Greenlaw, Lauder, Polwarth, Roxburgh, St Boswells, Selkirk and Westruther.

You can see maps centred on OS grid reference NT553305 (Lat/Lon: 55.566149, -2.710347), Bowden which are provided by:


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

  • 1755 - 672
  • 1794 - 860
  • 1801 - 829
  • 1811 - 865
  • 1821 - 954
  • 1831 - 1010
  • 1861 - 864


A transcript of the Bowden School Admission Register (held at the Scottish Borders Archive and Local History Centre, reference R/ED/3/3) was printed in the February and June 1994 editions of the Borders Family History Society magazine. The first admission recorded took place in 1864, the last in 1873. The surnames listed among the 68 admissions are:

Amos, Anderson, Baptie, Barnes, Bell, Bonnington, Brown, Cairns, Dalgliesh, Dickinson, Dodds, Donaldson, Fisher, Gaffney, Grant, Grieve, Halliburton, Henderson, Hogg, Hume, Lilie, Lowrie, Mackay, McVitae, Mitchell, Morrison, Ormiston, Porteous, Scott, Shiel, Stavert, Thomson, Turnbull, Welsh, Whillans, Wilson, Woodger and Yule.