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"WHITEKIRK, a parish on the coast of Haddingtonshire. It contains the village of Whitekirk and the post-office village of Tynninghame. It is bounded on the north by North-Berwick; on the east by the German ocean; on the south by the estuary of the Tyne, and by Dunbar; and on the west by Prestonkirk. Its length from north to south is 5 1/4 miles; and its greatest breadth is 4 1/2 miles ... The present parish comprehends the ancient parishes of Tynninghame, Aldham, and Hamer, or Whitekirk. Aldham - popularly but corruptedly Adam - lay on the north, and included the lands of Aldham and of Scougal. Some desolated vestiges of this hamlet are still traceable on the coast, a short distance east of Tantallan-castle. The original church was probably founded by St Baldred, and in consequence, dated back to the 6th century; and the last church in use was demolished in 1770, yet may still be partially traced in the out-houses of a farm-yard adjacent to the vestiges of the hamlet. At Scougal, about a mile to the south-east, and overlooking the sea, anciently stood a chapel, whose ruins are still extant.- Whitekirk had the ancient name of Hamer, or the greater ham, from its contradistinction to Ald-ham; and its modern name of Whitekirk, from the whiteness of its church ... Aldham was united to Whitekirk in the 17th century, and Tynninghame in 1761."
from the Imperial Gazetteer of Scotland, edited by John Marius Wilson, 1868.
A lengthier description is available.

This map shows the location of the parish in the county.
[View Maps of the Area.]


See An Old Kirk Chronicle: a history of Auldhame, Tyninghame, and Whitekirk in East Lothian by Rev. P. Hately Waddell, published at Edinburgh in 1893.

Church History

See the Bibliography section.

Church Records

The parish church (Church of Scotland) has registers dating from 1705. 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).

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.


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

Nearby places can be identified from the GENUKI Gazetteer.
Local photographs can be identified from various websites.


See the Bibliography section.


According to Dr Webster's return of 1755, the population of Whitekirk then was 369. Most population figures for the parish count it together with Tynninghame. Total counts include:

Year Population
1755 968
1792 3994
1801 925
1831 1109
1861 1113
1881 1051
1891 933
1901 835


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.

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Last updated 5 March 2003

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