Ballantrae, Ayrshire, Scotland Genealogy

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Parish #579

This is a guide to the history and major genealogical records of Scotland as they pertain to the parish of Ballantrae. To learn more about how to use these records to search for your ancestors, go to the Scotland: Research Strategies.


The parish name is said to be Gaelic and means the town upon or above the shore.  Ballantrae Is the nearest town.  There are three lighthouses visible from the village, Corsewall Point, Wigtonshire, and Pladda.  The land was primarily used for oats, wheat, bear potatoes, turnips, beans, sheep, goats, cattle, and fish.   The population in 1777 was 770.  The population in 1831 was 1506.  The registers do not go back further than 1744, and are not in a good state of preservation. Lately they have been better kept.   The number of families that attend church are about 260, and there are about 30 Catholic families.

This account was written in 1836.

source: New Statistical Account of Scotland (Family History Library book 941 B4sa, series 2 vol.5)

The New Statistical Account of Scotland (pub. 1834-45) offers uniquely rich and detailed parish reports for the whole of Scotland, covering a vast range of topics including history, agriculture, education, trades, religion and social customs. The reports, written by the parish ministers, are available online at  Click on ‘Browse scanned pages’ then search the parish reports for Ballantrae. Also available at the Family History Library.

Census Records

A census is a count and description of the population, taken by the government, arranged by locality and by household. Read more about census records.

Here is a list of the Family History Library microfilm numbers for the census records of Ballantrae as well as the library numbers for any surname indexes available:

Years FHL Film Number Surname Index             
1841 1042731 CD-ROM no. 2524
1851 1042372
1861 103800
1871 103958
1881 203592 6086514 (10 fiche)
1891 220209

The 1901 census of Scotland is indexed on  To use it, you must register and pay a small access fee. All available censuses, 1841-1901, are indexed on this website. It may be easier for you to pay to use the website rather than access indexes through the library.

Church Records

The Established Church of Scotland was Presbyterian. Read more about church records.

Here are the pre-1855 records that exist for this parish.

Established Church—Old Parochial Registers

Years Covered Family History Library Film Number
Births: 1731-1854 1041333item 1-2
Marriages: 1731-1854 1041333 item 1-2
Deaths: 1817-1854 1041333 item 1-2

Condition of Original Registers

Index: For an index to these records, see Scotland’s People website, a pay-for-view website. The Scottish Church Records Index is also still available at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.  Some records may be indexed in FamilySearch Records.
Births: There is one entry for 1741, recorded at June 1781 and eleven entries of one family 1754–1771, recorded at March 1783. Between 1784 and 1800 entries out of the order of time are not infrequent.
Marriages: There is one entry for 1754 in register of births at March 1783. Record begins April 1812. They are blank May 1813–April 1816.
Deaths: Entries are recorded in alternate columns of the register of Marriages.
Source: Key to the Parochial Registers of Scotland, by V. Ben Bloxham, pub. 1970 British book 941 K23b.

Established Church—Kirk Session Records

The Kirk session was the court of the parish. The session was made up of the minister and the land owners and business men of the parish, chosen to serve on the session. The Kirk session dealt with moral issues, minor criminal cases, matters of the poor and education, matters of discipline, and the general concerns of the parish. Kirk session records may also mention births, marriages, and deaths.

Here is a list of the surviving Kirk session records for this parish:

Minutes 1723–1739, 1746–1781, 1815–1845
Poors' Assessment Roll 1850–1852
Baptisms 1729–1731, 1855–1893
Collections 1729
Marriages 1729–1732
Accounts 1746–1754
Miscellaneous 1736–1768
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH3/684.

Nonconformist Church Records

A nonconformist church is any church that is not the Established church. Read more about nonconformity in Scotland in the article on the Scotland Church Records Union Lists.

Ballantrae Free Church

This congregation was formed at the Disruption. At first it was under the charge of Ebenezer B. Wallace, minister of Barr, assisted by a probationer. The first minister was called in September 1843. The church was built in 1844, and the manse in 1845. A new church was erected in 1875. The congregation suffered heavily through decline of the population.
Membership: 1848, 92; 1900, 93.
Source: Annals of the Free Church of Scotland, 1843–1900, ed. Rev. William Ewing, D.D., 2 vols. pub. 1914. Film #918572.

Minutes 1844–1930
Baptismal Register 1843–1930
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH3/684.

Gravestone Inscriptions

Ballantrae Old Kirkyard's pre-1855 inscriptions can be found within "Pre-1855 Gravestone Inscriptions: an index for Carrick, Ayrshire", edited by Alison Mitchell for the Scottish Genealogy Society, 1988.

Civil Registration Records

Government or civil registration of births, marriages, and deaths (also called statutory records) began on January 1, 1855 in Scotland. Each parish has a registrar's office and large cities have several. The records are created by the registrars and copies are sent to the General Register Office in Edinburgh. Annual indexes are then created for the records for the whole country.

See the article on Scotland Civil Registration for more information and to access the records.

Probate Records

Ballantrae was under the probate jurisdiction of the Commissary Court of Glasgow until 1823, and since then has been under the Sheriff's Court of Banff. Probate records for 1513- 1901 are indexed online at  You must register on the website but use of the index to probate records, called 'Wills & Testaments,' is free. You may then purchase a copy of the document or, if the document is before 1823, it will be on microfilm at the Family History Library. To find the microfilm numbers, search in the library catalog for the 'Place-names' of Ayr and the subject of 'Probate records.' Then click on the link to the records of the Commissariat of Ayr.

The library also has some post-1823 probate records for Ayr. Look in the library catalog for the 'Place-names' of Ayr and the subjects of 'Probate Records' and 'Probate Records - Indexes.'

Read more about Scotland Probate Records.

Return to the Ayrshire Parish List