North Berwick


"BERWICK (NORTH), a parish, containing a royal burgh and post-town of the same name, on the north coast of Haddingtonshire. It is bounded on the north by the frith of Forth, and on other sides by the parishes of Dirleton, Prestonkirk and Whitekirk. Its length from east to west is 3 miles; and its breadth is upwards of 2 1/2 miles. Toward the east, the coast is rocky and bold; but toward the west, on both sides of the town, it presents considerably stretches of level sand and flat grassy downs, of the kind called links ... Population of the parish in 1831, 1,824; in 1861 2,071." [From the Imperial Gazetteer of Scotland, edited by John Marius Wilson, 1868]
A lengthier description is available.



See "The North Berwick story" by Rev. Walter M. Ferrier published at North Berwick in 1980 (102 pages). This may be consulted through LDS family history centres.

"Tales of Old North Berwick" by Ben Millar covers the history of the town from 1800 or so in some detail.



The Scottish Genealogy Society holds a list of pre-1855 gravestones in this parish (123 in total) in its library in Edinburgh. The East Lothian Library's Local History Centre at Newton Port in Haddington holds a similar list, with a plan.


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, page 156:

"The parochial church was built in 1670, and repaired in 1819, and contains 550 sittings. The Free church contains about 400 sittings ... The United Presbyterian church was built in 1832, and contains 390 sittings. The Episcopalian church is recent, and contains about 200 sittings. The old parish church is famous in the annals of witchcraft as the reputed favourite rendezvous of the witches and wizards of the Lothians."

Some photos of the churches in North Berwick are now available. More to follow!


Church Records

The parish church (Church of Scotland) has registers dating from 1653. 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 Scottish Record Office as are any records of non-conformist churches in the area (often unfilmed and unindexed, and only available there).

East Lothian Library's Local History Centre at Newton Port in Haddington holds a copy of the Burial Book/Mortcloth Records for this parish.


Civil Registration

Registration of Births, Marriages and Deaths began in Scotland on 1st January 1855. For details of these and other records held at the General Register Office in Edinburgh, see the GRO tutorial.


Description & Travel

You can see pictures of North Berwick which are provided by:



Extracts for this parish from the 1868 National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland are available.


Land & Property

The burgh registers for North Berwick include several records relating to land and property, in particular the sasine registers which record changes in ownership of land and the stent rolls (land valuations). The original records are held in the Scottish Record Office in Edinburgh, but copies on microfilm may be consulted in LDS family history centres around the world. The microfilm copies include the sasine registers for 1834-1943 and the stent rolls for 1658-1841.


Law & Legislation

Burgh registers for North Berwick are held in the Scottish Record Office in Edinburgh together with other court and legal records relating to the area. Copies of the burgh registers can also be consulted on microfilm in LDS family history centres around the world. The records include sasine registers, stent rolls (land valuations) and minute books.



This map shows the location of the parish in the county.

You can see maps centred on OS grid reference NT566832 (Lat/Lon: 56.039834, -2.698689), North Berwick which are provided by:



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



For a social and economic record of the parishes of East Lothian together with considerable statistical material, see Sir John Sinclair's Statistical Account of Scotland, which was compiled in the 1790s. Follow-up works to this were the New Statistical Account (also known as the Second Statistical Account) which was prepared in the 1830s and 1840s; and more recently the Third Statistical Account which has been prepared since the Second World War.

Thanks to a joint venture between the Universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh the First and Second Statistical Accounts can now be accessed on-line at The Statistical Accounts of Scotland, 1791-1799 and 1845.