"A parish on the sea coast in the county of Berwick. It consists of two parts; one high and mountainous, the other comparatively low and even. The upper division makes part of the Lammermuir hills, which approach within 3 miles of the shore towards the W.; the lower division on the sea coast is light and sandy, interspersed with fields of rich deep clay. The shore is high, presenting a sea of cliffs about 100 feet above the level of the sea ... Situated near the boundary of the kingdom, and possessing many strong military passes, this parish has been frequently the scene of war: this appears from the camps still visible on the rising grounds, and the marks of military entrenchments in the glens ...Population in 1801, 930." From the Gazetteer of Scotland published 1806, Edinburgh.



Pre-1855 inscriptions for the parish are contained in the Scottish Genealogy Society's volume of Berwickshire Monumental Inscriptions (Pre-1855).



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


Church History

The following quotation comes from the Imperial Gazetteer of Scotland, edited by John Marius Wilson and published in 1868. This reference was found in volume I, p.286:

"At a former period, it was a small parish, but was afterwards - though at what particular date cannot be ascertained - incorporated with the parish of Auldcambus."

Edward Hay's article on the history of "Cockburnspath Parish Church" was published in the History of the Berwickshire Naturalists' Club, Volume 45 (part 3 - 1992) pp.258-261.


Church Records

The parish church (Church of Scotland) has registers dating from 1642. 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).

Surviving non-conformist church records for the area include the parish registers of Stockbridge Associate Session which was later known as the Cockburnspath and Stockbridge United Free Church and also the Cockburnspath and Oldhamstocks Free Church. The registers cover the years 1795-1937 and include parish registers, session minutes etc. Their NAS reference is CH3/57/1-2,4-5 and CH3/58/9-12,14 and they can be ordered on microfilm (two 35mm reels) through LDS family history centres around the world.


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 & Travel

You can see pictures of Cockburnspath which are provided by:





Two relevant books are:

  • Cockburnspath: a documentary social history of a Border parish by Eric Rankin, published Edinburgh in 1981.
  • Cockburnspath - a history of a people and a place by Sally Smith, published by Dunglass Mill Press in 1999, 360 pages (including 180 photographs, 88 drawings and 11 reproductions), ISBN 095354091X (paperback) and ISBN 0953540901 (hardback).


The National Records of Scotland holds the following as part of its collection of maps and plans:

  • 1805: Plan of division of Chirnside Common. Scale 1:1600. Size 160x297cm. Grid (map) reference NT4766. NRS reference RHP.3550
  • 1860: An estate plan of Blackburn, showing Blackburn House, Eye Water etc. Scale 1:7100. Size 68x57cm. Grid (map) reference NT7766. NRS reference RHP.1035/1.
  • 1882: Plan of estate of Branxton (in parishes of Innerwick, Oldhamstocks and Cockburnspath). Scale 1:7100. Size 137x106cm. Grid (map) reference NT7569. NRS reference RHP.3311

You can see maps centred on OS grid reference NT785677 (Lat/Lon: 55.901905, -2.345747), Cockburnspath which are provided by:



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

  • 1755 - 919
  • 1793 - 883
  • 1801 - 930
  • 1811 - 904
  • 1821 - 966
  • 1831 - 1143
  • 1851 - 1196
  • 1861 - 1191
  • 1891 - 1112
  • 1901 - 982
  • 1911 - 997
  • 1921 - 941
  • 1931 - 877
  • 1951 - 761