Place:West Lothian, Scotland

NameWest Lothian
Alt namesLinlithgowsource: Webster's Geographical Dictionary (1988) p 1331
Linlithgowshiresource: FamilySearch Wiki
Lodainn an Iarsource: Wikipedia
TypeTraditional county
Coordinates55.92°N 3.5°W
Located inScotland     ( - 1975)
See alsoLothian, Scotlandregional administration 1975-1996
West Lothian (council area), Scotlandunitary Council Area since 1996
Contained Places
Former village
Kinneil ( - 1975 )
Society ( - 1975 )
Inhabited place
Armadale ( - 1975 )
Bathgate (town) ( - 1975 )
Blackburn ( - 1975 )
Bo'ness (town) ( - 1975 )
Boghall ( - 1975 )
Broxburn ( - 1975 )
Carriden (village) ( - 1975 )
Dalmeny (village) ( - 1975 )
Fauldhouse ( - 1975 )
Linlithgow (town) ( - 1975 )
Livingston (town) ( - 1975 )
Pumpherston ( - 1975 )
South Queensferry ( - 1975 )
Uphall (village) ( - 1975 )
Whitburn (town) ( - 1975 )
Abercorn ( - 1975 )
Bathgate ( - 1975 )
Bo'ness ( - 1975 )
Carriden ( - 1975 )
Dalmeny ( 1628 - 1975 )
Ecclesmachen ( - 1975 )
Kirkliston ( - 1975 )
Linlithgow ( - 1975 )
Livingston ( - 1975 )
Torphichen ( - 1975 )
Uphall ( - 1975 )
Whitburn ( - 1975 )
source: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names
source: Family History Library Catalog


West Lothian is a former county in east central Scotland, known until 1921 as Linlithgowshire. It had an area of 120 sq. miles (310km2) and was located on the south side of the Firth of Forth, immediately west of the City of Edinburgh and stretching up the Firth till it narrowed to a river at Falkirk in Stirlingshire. The principal internal river was the Avon.

The county town was Linlithgow, a few miles inland from the Firth. The principal coastal settlements were Bo'ness and South Queensferry. Further inland were Armadale, Bathgate and Broxburn, all centres of mining for either coal or metals.

Mining of coal and oil-shale were important industries in the 19th and early 20th centuries, along with agriculture and fishing.

In 1975 the county was incorporated into Lothian Region, with its boundaries expanded to include the Midlothian parishes of West Calder, Mid Calder and East Calder or Kirknewton. In the local government reorganisation of 1996 it was re-established as a separate entity named the West Lothian Council Area.


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.

Notes for West Lothian

  • The Scottish Genealogy Society has published a volume of Pre-1855 Monumental Inscriptions in West Lothian, compiled by John F Mitchell and Sheila Mitchell.
  • FreeCen has an index of 1841 census records including the whole of West Lothian. The Genealogical Society of Utah sponsored the collection of 1881 census records and these will be found at FamilySearch

Further Sources of Reference

Please note and respect the copyright warnings on these websites.

  • GENUKI article on West Lothian. Included are links to lists of coalmines and metalliferous mines active in the county in 1896.
  • Scottish Places article on the County of West Lothian. The tabs of the right provide more information, and comparitive maps.
  • The FamilySearch Wiki article on West Lothian provides direct reference to FamilySearch holdings on many topics with respect to the county.
  • 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.