Dunscore, Dumfriesshire, Scotland Genealogy

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Scotland Gotoarrow.png Dumfriesshire, Scotland Gotoarrow.png Dunscore

Parish #822

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



DUNSCORE, a parish, in the county of Dumfries, 9 miles (N. W.) from Dumfries containing the village of Cottack. This place is not remarkable for any events of historical importance, but it was formerly the seat of some families of considerable antiquity. The church, standing in the village of Cottack, in the centre of the parish, is a well-built structure, surmounted with an elegant square tower at the west end; it was erected in 1823, and contains 850 sittings. The members of the Free Church have a place of worship, and there is a meeting-house belonging to the Relief Synod.[1]

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 edina.($)  Click on ‘Browse scanned pages’ then search the parish reports for Dunscore. 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 Scotland Census Records.

Click here[low quality link] for a list of the Family History Library microfilm numbers for the census records of Dunscore.] 

Below is information for any known surname indexes: 

Years Surname Index      
1841 941.48/D3 X22
1851 941.48/D4 X2m 1851
1881 6086550 ( 3 fiche)

The 1901 census of Scotland is indexed on scotlandspeople.($)  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 Scotland Church Records.

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


Established Church—Old Parochial Registers

Years Covered FHL Film Number
Births: 1777-1854 1067961 item 3-5
Marriages: 1822-1843 1067961 item 3-5
Deaths: 1822-1839 1067961 item 3-5
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 also be indexed in other FamilySearch collections for Scotland. 
Births: No entries for August 1783–July 1800 except one for 1784 and three for 1798–1799. There is a double record for 1777–1783. Extremely irregular entries after 1807, but there is a transcript for 1805–1818 where the irregular entries are arranged in chronological order. Mother's names are seldom recorded until 1800.
Marriages: No record appears to have been kept until 1822.
Deaths: Except three entries for 1779 and one for 1785, there is no death record until 1822.
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                                             1737–1739, 1752–1781, 1837–1919
Miscellaneous Papers                        1649–1807, 1822–1836
Collections and Disbursements           1805–1818
Marriages                                          1779–1797, 1834–1846
Baptisms 1743–1811 - many gaps,      1834–1843
Roll of Male Heads of Families            1835–1842
Treasurer's Book                                1821–1844
Young Communicants                        1737–1843
Population                                         1837–1841
Communion Rolls                               1842–1847
Note: Available at the Scottish National Archives, Edinburgh, record CH2/114.

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.

'Dunscore United Presbyterian Church

The congregation in this place originated in dissatisfaction by a number of persons in the district with the ministrations of the parish incumbent. They applied for and obtained supply of sermon from the Relief Presbytery of Dumfries, September 1814, were organized as a congregation the following year, and built their place of worship in 1816. A new church was built in 1864.
Source: Annals and Statistics of the United Presbyterian Church, by Rev. William MacKelvie, D.D., pub. 1873. Film #477618. More details are given in the source.

Session Minutes 1814–1868
Managers’ Minutes 1814–1825
Note: Available at the Scottish National Archives, Edinburgh, record CH3/422.

Dunscore Free Church

The minister of Dunscore, and the bulk of his congregation, "came out" in 1843. The church was built and opened in 1844. The manse was erected in 1845. School buildings were also provided; which in 1873 were transferred to the Dunscore School Board, the congregation retaining the right to use them at other than school hours. The church was renovated in 1899. The first Free Church minister of Dunscore had also charge of the lower parts of Closeburn and Keir, and the upper parts of Kirkmahoe and Holywood parishes.
Membership: 1848, 318; 1900 44.
Source: Annals of the Free Church of Scotland, 1843–1900, ed. Rev. William Ewing, D.D., 2 vols. pub. 1914. Film #918572. More details are given in the source.

FHL Film Number
Session Minutes with Baptisms 1843–1866 0889481 item 2
Communion Rolls 1843–1874
Note: Available at the Scottish National Archives, Edinburgh, record CH3/423.

Craig Reformed, later Free Presbyterian Church

As a Reformed Presbyterian congregation, it appears that services were held here about 1830, but it wasn't until July 1843 that anything definite was accomplished. Children attended the Established church. A church was built in 1848. Considerable delay occurred in giving the congregation a separate existence, which occurred in 1863. They united with the Free Church in 1876.
Membership: 1833, 17; 1863, 30; 1877, 67; 1900, 140.
Source: Annals of the Free Church of Scotland, 1843–1900, ed. Rev. William Ewing.

Session Minutes D.D., 2 vols. pub. 1914. Film #918572. More details are given in the source.
Deacons Court Minutes 1845–1890
Note: Available at the Scottish National Archives, Edinburgh, record CH3/62.

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

Dunscore was under the probate jurisdiction of the Commissary Court of Dumfries until 1823, and since then has been under the Sheriff's Court of Dumfries.  Probate records for 1513- 1901 are indexed online at scotlandspeople.($)  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 for the 'Place' of Dumfries and the subject of 'Probate records.' Then click on the link to the records of the Commissariat of Dumfries.

The library also has some post-1823 probate records for Dumfries. Look in the library catalog for the 'Place' of Dumfries and the subjects of 'Probate Records' and 'Probate Records - Indexes.'
Read more about Scotland Probate Records.


  1. Lewis, Samuel A., A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland (1846), pp. 320-349. Adapted. Date accessed: 14 March 2014.

Return to the Dumfriesshire parish list.