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Collection CH2/345 - Synod of Sutherland & Caithness

Identity area

Reference code

GB 232 CH2/345


Synod of Sutherland & Caithness


  • 1656-1929 (Creation)

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Extent and medium

8 volumes

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Name of creator

Church of Scotland (1560-)

Administrative history

Archival history

The Synod of Caithness and Sutherland was established towards the middle of the 17th cent and the register begins on the 6th August 1656. It originally comprised the Presbyteries of Dornoch, Tongues and Caithness but in 1646 the General Assembly annexed the Presbyteries of Orkney and Shetland to the Synod where they remained until the 18th cent. In 1715 the Presbytery of Shetland was severed from the Synod of Sutherland and Caithness (the Synod of Shetland was not however erected until 1830) and in 1725 the parishes of Orkney were incorporated into a separate Synod of Orkney. The boundaries of the Synod were later redefined and it became the Synod of Ross, Sutherland and Caithness.

Synods, or Provincial Synods, were courts of the Church of Scotland which came between presbyteries and the General Assembly. There were 12 synods from 1930, and the Presbyteries of Orkney and Shetland held synodical powers. The General Assembly determined how synods were formed of constituent presbyteries. Synods met mostly twice a year, and could hear appeals against decisions from presbyteries.

Synods comprised all (both ministers and representative elders) who were on the rolls of the presbyteries within the synods; and there might have been corresponding members from neighbouring synods. The Synod's main officials were a moderator (effectively chairman) and a Synod officer, as well as one or more clerks. Funds for their work came from an assessment levied on congregations within their bounds.

Duties of the Synod included examination of Presbytery records, after which a report would be sent to the General Assembly touching on matters including the quinquennial investigation, special visitation of congregations (if required), and supervision of general Schemes of the Church. The Synod's own records would be examined by the General Assembly.

Meetings of synods came to be poorly attended, in part because their authority was diminished, and after a full review synods were dissolved as from 1 January 1993.
[Source: National Records of Scotland online catalogue: ]

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Content and structure area

Scope and content

Minutes 1656-1929 (8 volumes)

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Language of material

  • English

Script of material

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Paper records

Finding aids

Full catalogue available through National Records of Scotland online catalogue at catalogue reference CH2/345

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