Family History Resources

Old Parish Register

The "Old Parish Register" was maintained by the Presbyterian minister of the day. Until 1832, he was based in Jura and made only three or four forays across to Colonsay in the course of the year; it appears that he normally left the registers in Jura, and brought them up to date upon his return. This was probably the safest procedure, but it did mean that mistakes have been identified in some entries and one may assume that there were other errors and, perhaps, omissions that have not yet come to light.

Please remember that the transcription given here is only the work of one individual, but it does incorporate any corrections that have been notified over the course of more than a decade. So, although it is thought to be pretty accurate, users should check important references against the original. Microfilms are of course available through Church of Latter Day Saints, but the easiest course is to use the official resource online at

"Images of Old Parish Register (OPR) records are now publicly available online for the very first time. These comprise the records of births & baptisms and banns & marriages kept by individual parishes of the Established Church of Scotland, before the introduction of civil registration in 1855." The facility is truly magnificent, a great credit to the nation - it includes all the census returns and official records. 

Although the Deaths register of Colonsay is very late and brief, the Baptismal and Marriage records enable one to cross-reference information obtained from other sources, such as the passenger list of the "Spencer", 1806 to Prince Edward Island. Using the Register, it is possible to recreate a limited census for (say) 1800, since one might assume that all persons who were married before (say) 1825 would have been alive in 1800, together with most persons baptised between 1795 and 1800. By reference to actuarial figures, one can begin to gauge the number of persons who most likely would have been alive at the time, but who would have already been married by (say) 1800. Such a computation may be made for any given date, and for control can be tested against an actual census of later date. The results seem to indicate that the population level of about 1,000 persons, recorded by an actual census of 1841, had actually obtained for some 50 years. Many hundreds of people had emigrated and/or been evicted during that period, but numbers were maintained by decreased infant mortality coupled with a steady influx of new arrivals, firstly from Jura, later from the Ross of Mull.

Baptisms 1796 - 1855
Marriages 1796 - 1854
Deaths 1848 - 1854

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Census Records for Colonsay and Oransay

1841 Census and Enumerator's Report
1851 Census and Enumerator's Report also 1851 Note
1861 Census and Enumerator's Report
1871 Census and Enumerator's Report
1881 Census and Enumerator's Report
1881 Census extract: Highland residents born in Colonsay
1881 Census extract: Lowland residents born in Colonsay
1891 Census and Enumerator's Report
Interesting notes on 1891 Census
1901 Census and Enumerator's Report

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Gravestone Inscriptions for Colonsay and Oransay

Colonsay Gravestones (now corrected to July 2007 - KB)
Oronsay Gravestones

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The War Memorial

Names on the memorial are included in the Colonsay Gravestones file, but the lives of all who are listed have been researched and published in "Colonsay's Fallen" by Alan Davis. This was a limited edition but file copies are held by major copyright libraries and specific "look-ups" can be arranged in Colonsay.


This section will develop in due course. For the moment, please see The Colonsay Register, a list of all known emigrants which enables you to contact other researchers. A ship-list for The Spencer is to hand and will appear in due course. Shiplists for any other relevant sailing would be very welcome, especially "General Washington" to Wilmington,"Hector" to Pictou, "Economy" to PEI etc.

In the meantime, see Professor Sheets essay about Colonsay Emigration, which is hosted by PEI Register. We also hope to provide links to graveyard inscription at Bruce County, Wood Islands etc., and would welcome information upon any Colonsay or Oronsay gravestones worldwide.

One-Name Studies

This pdf contains dedicated "one-name" sections which will carry information about local families and promote additional research.

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Researchers are invited to contribute postings, whether it is to impart or seek information.  The facility was created on 24 December 2006, with a list of the 33 family names to which baptisms in Colonsay were registered 1796 - 1799 inclusive.

Colonsay Moorings Development

A Marine License Application for the 10 moorings due to go into Queen’s Bay was submitted to the Crown Estate in March. CCDC also submitted an application to Marine Scotland in late April. Both these applications have had a considerable amount of input from MOWI who are one of our key match-funders for this development. We hope to hear if our applications are successful in the next six to eight weeks. MOWI would like to see the moorings installed as soon as possible, but as you would expect, COVID-19 has impacted many of the administrative and physical processes required to see the 2 tonne anchor blocks put in place. Similarly, the Path Development has been delayed due to an inability to source materials. Our funder, Paths for All, are understanding of the situation and are willing to work with us on this. Colonsay Estate has agreed in principle to the path up to the church and we are working through the details with them.  
In the meantime, CCDC have been corresponding with other marine establishments, and are working on a management plan which incorporates an online booking system for the moorings.  
If anyone has any thoughts or questions about the moorings. Please contact Roz Jewell: