Place:Ratho, Midlothian, Scotland

Coordinates55.917°N 3.367°W
Located inMidlothian, Scotland     ( - 1975)
See alsoLothian, Scotlandregional administration 1975-1996
City of Edinburgh, Scotlandunitary Council Area since 1996
source: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names
source: Family History Library Catalog


Ratho was a parish on the western side of the former Scottish county of Midlothian. Since 1975 Ratho has been part of the City of Edinburgh.

Ratho has an area of 24.9 sq. km (9.6 sq. miles) and has 4 neighbouring parishes; namely Currie, Edinburgh,and East Calder/Kirknewton in the County of Midlothian, and Kirkliston in the County of West Lothian.

Ratho village is situated to the south of the M8 motorway and on the course of the Union Canal, a 2½ miles (4 km) south of Kirkliston and 8 miles (13 km) west of the city centre. The core of the village comprises distinctive black whinstone buildings, but Ratho has grown rapidly since the 1970s.

Originally constructed by the Knights Hospitaller in the Middle Ages, sections of the much altered Parish Church of St. Mary's date back to the 12th century.

Ratho Station is an industrial settlement located alongside the railway a mile (1.5 km) to the north.

The parish church has records for births dating from 1682, for marriages from 1741 and for deaths from 1682.



Haltoun House

the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

There are a number of old buildings in the area. The most prominent of these was Haltoun House or castle (pronounced, and sometimes spelt, Hatton), which was badly damaged by fire in the mid-1950s and subsequently taken down. This magnificent country house evolved from its central core, a Norman keep, or what Scots call a Pele Tower. In 1371 the manor and lands of Haltoun were resigned to the Crown by John de Haltoun, and were regranted to Alan de Lawedre [Lauder] of that Ilk who then resided mostly at Whitslaid Tower just outside Lauder. Haltoun Tower was damaged during the House of Douglas troubles of 1452, when a note in the Treasurers' Accounts show funds being provided for its repair. The Haltoun estates remained in the Lauder family until the latter half of the 17th century when they passed by marriage to Charles Maitland, 3rd Earl of Lauderdale, who enlarged and beautified Hatton House.

Parish Church (St Marys)

the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

There is evidence of a pre-Norman, Celtic church on this site, and reference to St Mary's in Ratho date back to 1243.

The east aisle is dated 1683. West of the south aisle (1830) half of an ornate 12th century doorway is still visible. Generally the church has never been grand, but it bears the hallmarks of centuries of evolutionary change. The interior was generally denuded in 1932 including loss of the 18th century gallery. A 13th century memorial lies in the south porch. One curious feature is the bell, which was rung by an external chain which has carved a groove into the stonework below the bell.

The churchyard is of equal antiquity and interest. Its greatest oddity is a gravestone to John Mitchell who died in 1749 aged 80 years. He was a mason by trade and the gravestone was cut out many years before he died in the form of a panelled coffin. Richard Lauder, the last Lauder laird of Haltoun, was interred in the graveyard on November 29, 1675. Other graves of note are Thomas Wilkie (d.1679), William Anderson (d.1756) and the Rev Andrew Duncan (d.1827) (Moderator of the Church of Scotland in 1824).

The manse is a very fine two storey Georgian villa standing to the east on the opposite side of the main road. It dates from around 1790 and is constructed of whin stone. It faces southwards, away from the road. Its outbuildings have been converted into a separate house now slightly separating it from the church.

A new cemetery of far less character now lies on the NE outskirts of the village, slightly out of sight from the churchyard, just east of the manse.

Research Tips

Sources for Old Parish Registers Records, Vital Records and Censuses

  • Scotland's People This is a pay website providing vital statistics and census data for all of Scotland with original images. There is a description at Scotland under Genealogical Resources.

Further Sources of Reference

Please note and respect the copyright warnings on these websites.

  • Scottish Places article on the parish of Ratho. The tabs of the right provide more information, and comparitive maps.
  • Scottish Places article on the village of Ratho. Once again, the tabs of the right provide more information, and comparitive maps.
  • The FamilySearch Wiki article on Ratho provides direct reference to FamilySearch holdings on many topics with respect to the parish.
  • The National Library of Scotland have a website devoted to maps from the 1600s right up to the present. Comparisons of modern-day and old maps of the same place can be made. From the home page click on "Find by place" and then follow the instructions on the next page. Once you are viewing the place you want, use the slider <----> at the top of the map to compare the layout of roads and the place names of smaller areas, perhaps even farms, with the landscape today. The website takes some getting used to. The One-inch 2nd edition, Scotland, 1898-1904 OS is a series of maps with the parishes delineated. Each of these maps cover an area of 18 x 24 miles and will zoom to comfortable reading size with a couple of mouse clicks on the map itself. Unfortunately, they are not geo-referenced, and it is necessary to go to the OS One Inch 1885-1900 series to locate places by latitude and longitude.
  • The Statistical Accounts for Scotland In the 1790s and again in the 1830s, the ministers of the all the parishes of the Church of Scotland were asked to provide a description of their parish to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. The original account request included 160 questions to be answered. These accounts are available in print in 20 volumes and are also online where it is freely available to browse. The browsing portal is below the viewing area of most computer screens. Scroll down to "For non-subscribers" and click on "Browse scanned pages". This brings you to another page on which one can enter the name of the parish in which you are interested.
  • Excerpts from The Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland: A Survey of Scottish Topography, Statistical, Biographical and Historical, edited by Francis H. Groome and originally published in parts by Thomas C. Jack, Grange Publishing Works, Edinburgh between 1882 and 1885 are provided by Scottish Places. Selections from Groome and other gazetteers from the 19th century are also found on GENUKI.