Monday, 16 April 2012

K is for Kirk

Kirk is not just a guy's name. In Scotland it is both a general word for "church", which is derived from an ancient Greek word (according to Wikipedia) and also "the Church". As in the Church of Scotland.

The Church of Scotland was responsible for the formalisation of relationships and recognition of births in most cities and towns in Scotland two centuries ago and most Scots were members. Certainly, our family was no different as all of Alexander and Janet's children were baptised in the Kirk and Robert and Betsy were married "after banns according to the forms of the Church of Scotland". I only know this (and have been able to trace as far back as I have) because the Kirk's agents were in the practice of noting the major life events of its members well before it was required by law. It wasn't mandatory to note important things like births, death and marriages until 1855 and even after then it was generally the Church clerk who continued this practice.

I began my search for Cam's Fam through digitised parish records on Scotland's People and it's the first place I go to locate and confirm the existence of dead rels.  The Kirk's records often contain juicy information like parents' names, occupations, area of residence and of course dates of birth. They note whether it was a "lawful" birth (ie. in the parents were married) or, in the case of John Horn, barely!

John Horn is the husband of our Robert's sister Jane [addendum: our Jane died 'in infancy' so John Horn is not related but married a different Jane Cameron - see post M is for Mistake]. Jane and John were married on 28 June 1845 and as best I can tell, had three daughters. According to census records, he was a ship's carpenter in Garmouth and was born in Banff (a neighbouring shire) in about 1819. Last night I threw out a net to fish a little more for details about John and came across what I believe is the parish record of his birth:

It reads:  
July 18th 1819: Alexander Horn servant at Braes has a child by his in antenuptial fornication, by his wife Christian Grant, baptised and named John. Witnesses, John Grant, and Adam Thomson. 
While John's parents were married, the Church was very bothered by the timing of conception... If I can get a hold of the Kirk Session records it would probably indicate the fine they had to pay for their fun...


  1. How fascinating. The name Kirk comes from Church. I love the history of names.
    - Maurice Mitchell
    The Geek Twins | Film Sketchr
    @thegeektwins | @mauricem1972

    1. glad you learnt something, Maurice - thanks for stopping by.

  2. cool. love learning the origin of names:)
    Happy A-Zing!

    1. thanks Nutschell, am a little behind but trying to catch up!

  3. Great project to follow your fam! I'm trying to visit all the A-Z Challenge Blogs this month. My alphabet is at