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.

Old Baptist Manse Announcement

CCDC are pleased to be able to provide short term accommodation to a local family who need to bridge the gap between two tenancies. One of CCDC's main aims is to provide or assist in the provision of housing and we are delighted that bringing this asset into community ownership has allowed us to fulfill this aim. 

In allocating residential use of the Old Manse, Colonsay Community Development Company adopts the policy of giving priority to those in need as a result of the housing shortage on the island; individuals who have made a commitment to making Colonsay their home.  Consideration is given to the resources available to that family or individual, the urgency of their need, and assesses all details on a case by case basis.  

CCDC intends to use this community asset later in the year in support of TSL Contractors Ltd throughout the Scalasaig affordable housing development, and to use the time concurrently to consult the community again with longer-term plans in mind. It is intended that work at the Old Manse itself will be undertaken by TSL during their time there, and this will enhance future possibilities for its use.