Fenwick, Ayrshire, Scotland Genealogy

From FamilySearch Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search

Parish #592

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


The parish anciently formed part of Kilmarnock. In 1642, it was disjoined from that parish, and was for some time known by the name of New Kilmarnock. It appears to have derived its present name from Fenwick hill, in the neighborhood of the church. Fenwick is the nearest town. The Rev. Mr. Guthrie was the eldest son of a numerous family, three of whom devoted themselves to the work of the Christian ministry.  About the age of 20 he made over the estate of which he was heir to his brother, that he might have not worldly cares to withdraw him from his studies and the duties of the sacred office. At the age of 24 he was appointed to the pastoral charge of this parish. He did a great deal to turn the parish and the members around to piety. The population in 1831 was 2019. The population in 1842 was 2020.

One third of the population belongs to the Established Church and the rest to the Dissenting Church.

This history was written in 1842.

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 http://edina.ac.uk/stat-acc-scot/.  Click on ‘Browse scanned pages’ then search the parish reports for Fenwick. 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.

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

Years     FHL Film           Surname Index          
1841 1042733 CD-ROM no. 2524
1851 1042402
1861 103802
1871 103961
1881 203597 6086514 (10 fiche)
1891 220213

The 1901 census of Scotland is indexed on www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk.  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 Register

Years Covered Family History Library Film Number
Births: 1691-1854 1041376
Marriages: 1691-1854 1041376
Deaths: 1691-1853 1041376

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 theInternational Genealogical Index 

Births:Prior to 1728, many entries are imperfect. There are irregular entries, 1764–1804 on four pages at February 1788. There is an Index to early portion of the record.
Marriages: Pages are blank August 1705–September1709. After 1786, the fact of marriage is seldom added to the entries of proclamation.
Deaths: Burials, prior to 1748 pages wasted by damp weather. The record is incomplete March 1782–October 1785 and there are only four entries November 1788–February 1802.
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 1644–1664, 1673–1677, 1683–1685, 1691–1699
Testificates 1674–1677
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/982.

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.

Fenwick United Presbyterian Church

A praying society in Fenwick acceded to the Associate Presbytery in December 1737. In 1740 Mr. Smyton was ordained at Kilmaurs, and the seceders in Fenwick were included in his congregation. On the Sabbath after Mr. Boyd's ordination, he and a few friends from Stewarton entered Fenwick Church by a window, the doors having been barricaded. No parishioners attended the parish church for a time, subsequently a few of them attended. On the 6th of June 1782 a meeting was held to determine what religious denomination among the dissenters the reclaiming party should join. For a time they met in the open air or in a barn at Lettle Fenwick, until a church was built. Persons from Stewarton, Kilmaurs, and Kilmarnock joined the church and increased its prosperity. The first church was built in 1784. The second was built in 1831.
Source: Annals and Statistics of the United Presbyterian Church, by Rev. William MacKelvie, D.D., pub. 1873. Film #477618. More details may be given in the source.

Baptisms 1830–1933
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/1314.

Fenwick Free Church

At the Disruption, Robert Ferguson, minister of the parish, had just accepted a call to Edinburgh. The office-bearers and people who "came out" formed a Free Church congregation in the summer 1843. The church was built in 1844. In this year the charge was sanctioned, but no minister was settled until 1846. The manse was erected in 1852. The population declined with the decay of the handloom weaving industry.
1848, 104; 1900, 72.
Source:Annals of the Free Church of Scotland, 1843–1900, ed. Rev. William Ewing, D.D., 2 vols. pub. 1914. Film #918572. More details may be given in the source.

There are no known pre–1855 records.

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

Fenwick was under the probate jurisdiction of the Commissary Court of Glasgow until 1823, and since then has been under the Sheriff's Court of Ayr. Probate records for 1513- 1901 are indexed online at www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk.  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 Glasgow.

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