Explore the records of Gibraltar’s Presbyterian Church, St Andrew’s Church of Scotland. Was your ancestor stationed on the Rock? The congregation records include communicants, temperance pledges, members’ rolls and miscellaneous records which include official correspondence and business documents.
Each record includes a transcript and an image of the original records. The detail in each transcript can vary depending on the type of record.
The Communion roll was kept by the Kirk Session at each parish. It consisted of a full list of names and addresses of all the communicants. Gibraltar, St Andrew's Kirk Congregation Records include:
Designations or rank
Place of residence
Subscriptions and member rolls
Handwritten and signed pledges to abstain from intoxicating drinks for a designated period of time.
Profession or rank
Official correspondence & business documents 1840-1883
Records of parish finances including: the minister’s salary, appeals, memorials, grants and more
Lists of correspondence received and sent
These parish registers are from the Scottish Presbyterian Church, St Andrew’s Church of Scotland in Gibraltar. The church laid its foundation in 1853 and was opened for worship by May 1854. The church is still open today. The peninsula of Gibraltar has been under British control for 300 years and the territory has most frequently been used as a military base because of its strategic position on the Mediterranean Sea. There has often been a strong military presence.
The Congregation Records are a collection of papers organised by the church’s Kirk Session. The Kirk is the body of ordained elders, who govern the local parish. The most important characteristic of this new Scottish “Kirk” was the setting up of a General Assembly of ministers and elders, which acted as the Supreme Court and was independent of the monarch. Its ministers were all equal in status and its parishes ran welfare and education at local level.
The papers include:
Subscriptions and members’ roll 1947
Temperance pledges 18681872
Official correspondence and business documents 1840-1883
Many of the Scottish Regiments in Gibraltar had a Presbyterian Minister attached to them. No records exist of any permanent civilian Minister in the Colony until the Rev William Strauchan (a schoolmaster) commenced his work in January 1840 and continued for 9 years until December 1848.
During the first 150 years of British rule, life in the Colony was hard and at times brutal. There had been 3 sieges by the Spanish and conflicting interests in religion, commerce and military power all contributed to make the struggle harder. One Governor was court-martialled and dismissed, another recalled. Military punishment by lashing was common, prisons vile, and during the 19th century the mortality rate was appalling. In 1804 almost 6,000 of the 15,000 population died in a few weeks as a result of fever, and many thousands died of disease in 1813, 1814 and 1828. In 1865 more than 500 people died of cholera in a few months.
The Church records show infant mortality to be very high in the mid-19th century. With a predominantly Roman Catholic population, a pro-Anglican administration, and the difficulties of life, it is not to be wondered that the small Presbyterian community was faced with overwhelming problems of survival.
The Presbyterian congregation in Gibraltar has never been more than a few hundred, except during periods when a Scottish Regiment was stationed here. Nevertheless through their determination the few hundred and successive congregations built a church during the last hundred years. In 1843 the Presbyterian congregation unanimously proclaimed their independence by severing relations with the Established Church and supporting the new Free Church of Scotland. Disruption brought more financial loss to those who hitherto had encouraged the work of the church in foreign fields. At Gibraltar the congregation faced this problem and, in the years that followed, redoubled their personal efforts.
Despite facing personal hardships, , the congregation did what they could to help those less fortunate. The records show considerable sums collected for foreign missions and other charitable causes. At a period when church finances were particularly low, a call for help to aid sufferers of a disastrous storm on the East Coast of Scotland in the early 1880s resulted in a combined collection of £39 from the Cameron Highlanders and St Andrew's Church. Another instance was in 1897, when a donation was sent to the Indian Famine Relief Fund.