"A parish in Roxburghshire, of an irregular rectangular figure, 9 miles long, by 5 miles broad, except at one place, where it is not more than 2. The general appearance is rather bleak and hilly; but the hills are of small elevation, and most of them are covered with green pasture .. On the S. where it joins to the English border, the hills are more elevated, and only fit for pasturage; but, on the banks of the rivers, there are many fertile arable fields. In the parish are several small villages, the chief of which are Oxnam and Newbigging. There are the remains of various military operations. The great Roman road from Borough Bridge to the Lothians can be traced the whole length of the parish, and there are vestiges of 3 ancient fortifications, particularly the tower of Dolphinston. Limestone is found on the banks of the Jed; but, though there are flattering appearances of coal, no attempt to discover it has been successful. Population in 1801, 688." from Gazetteer of Scotland published 1806, Edinburgh.
View a Map of the Area.
The Borders Family History Society has published a booklet of Oxnam monumental inscriptions although the list is mainly that of pre-1855 inscriptions - many later ones are not included. In 2008 a second edition of the monumental inscriptions was published on CD.
Graham and Emma Maxwell have transcribed and indexed the 1841, 1851 and 1861 census returns for this parish.
The parish church (Church of Scotland) has registers dating from 1700. 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 National Archives of Scotland as are any records of non-conformist churches in the area (often unfilmed and unindexed, and only available there).
In his entry for the Statistical Account of Scotland (compiled 1790s, see the Statistics section of the Roxburghshire page for more details) the Rev. John Hunter made the following comment about deficiencies in the registration of births in Oxnam in the 18th century:
"The parish register was accurately kept, from 1700 to 1710, during which, the births amounted to 398, annual average 40 nearly. Since that period, the register has not been so accurate; occasioned, chiefly, by the neglect of parents to save a very trifling expence. Within the last 10 years, the annual average of births has been about 15, of which only 10 are registered."
Registration of Births, Marriages and Deaths began in Scotland on 1st January 1855. For further details of this see the General Register Office for Scotland website.
An account of the parish (history, topography etc.) may be found in the Borders Family History Society's booklet of monumental inscriptions.
Here are some figures showing the parish's population through time:
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 Oxnam parish (NAS reference E69/21/1) is included with the list of monumental inscriptions published by the Borders Family History Society.
Most taxation records are held at the National Archives of Scotland in Edinburgh.
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