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Gigha and Cara, Argyllshire, Scotland Genealogy

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Parish #537

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


History[edit | edit source]

GIGHA and CARA, a parish, in the district of Cantyre, county of Argyll, 21½ miles (S. by W.) from Tarbert. Some persons derive the name of the former of these two districts from the compound Gaelic term Eilean-Dhia, signifying "God's island;" others are of opinion that it may be traced to the word geodha, "a creek," applied on account of the numerous inlets and bays here. The word Cara is supposed to signify "a monastery." The parish consists of two islands, situated in the Atlantic Ocean, between the southern portion of the island of Islay and the peninsula of Cantyre. The church was built about the year 1780, and is in tolerable repair.[1]

     Campbelton is the nearest town to this parish.  Both of the islands in this parish are low islands.  Captain Alexander M’Neil; and Miss Macdonald Lockhart were the major land owners.  The land was primarily used for, potatoes, turnips, bear, oats, fish, and a few sheep.  The population in 1811 was 550, and in 1841 it was 550 .  There are no registers earlier than 1793. Since then “tolerable” regular except in 1824 and 1825.  There is only one Disenter in the Parish, a Baptist.  The average number of communicants is 145.

This account was written in 1843.

source: New Statistical Account of Scotland (Family History library book 941 B4sa, series 2 vol 7)


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 Gigha and Cara. Also available at the Family History Library.

Admin history:

The church of Gigha, which was anciently dedicated to St Calan, was rebuilt in 1923. The ruins of the old church can still be seen standing and some of the stone work was taken from the old building to construct the church as it exists today. During the 16th cent the parish of Gigha and Cara was united to that of Jura however in 1641 it was severed from Jura and instead united to the parish of Saddell. Gigha and Cara remained as part of Saddell until 1659 when it was disjoined and united to Killean. A number of years later in 1726 Gigha and Cara was disjoined, for a third time, by the Commissioners of Teinds, but on this occasion it was erected as a separate parish once more. The kirk session sat within the jurisdiction of the Presbytery of Kintyre, until the restructuring of the presbyteries in 1976, when it became part of the Presbytery of South Argyll.

Census Records[edit | edit source]

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 Gigha and Cara as well as the library numbers for any surname indexes available:


Years Family History Library Film Number Surname Index               
1841 1042719
1851 1042355 941.39 X2a
1861 103798
1871 103955
1881 203561
6086508 (set of 4 fiche)
1891 220172

The 1841-1911 census of Scotland is indexed on  To use it, you must register and pay a small access fee. All available censuses, 1841-1911, are indexed on this website. It may be easier for you to pay to use the website rather than access indexes through the library. is in process of indexing 1841-1911   Commecial based and pay a fee to use has indexed the census 1841-1911      Commecial based and pay a fee to use

Church Records[edit | edit source]

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[edit | edit source]

Years Covered Family History library Film Number
Births: 1792-1854 1041078 Items 4-5
Marriages: 1793-1854 1041078 items 4-5
Deaths: 1792-1854 1044078 items 4-5

Condition of Original Records[edit | edit source]

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, Marriages and Deaths:These are recorded by turns for each year in the same register. The early pages have suffered from dampness.
Source: Key to the Parochial Registers of Scotland, by V. Ben Bloxham, pub. 1970. British book 941 K23b.

Established Church—Kirk Session Records[edit | edit source]

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 1784–1890
 Note: Available at the Scottish National Archives, Edinburgh, record CH2/697.

Nonconformist Church Records
[edit | edit source]

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 List.


None are available.

Civil Registration Records[edit | edit source]

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.

Online Records[edit | edit source]


The Complete Knapdale People Database

Genealogy from Periodicals[edit | edit source]

Burgess, Moira.  Naomi Writing Carradale.  Naomi Mitchison (1897-1999) writer and social activist, moved from London to Carradale before W.W.2.  She published many books including some on life on Carradale, which are written about in the article, and she lived in Carradale House.  Her picture is on the front cover of the magazine of Spring 2007. Article in The Kintyre Antiquarian Natural History Society Magazine, vol 61, Spring 2007, pages cover, and 2-4, Family History Library Ref. 941.38/K1 H25k

Probate Records[edit | edit source]

Gigha and Cara was under the probate jurisdiction of the Commissary Court of The Isles until 1823, and since then has been under the Sheriff's Court of Dunoon. 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 Argyll and the subject of 'Probate records.' Then click on the link to the records of the Commissariat of The Isles.
The library also has some post-1823 probate records for Argyll. Look in the library catalog for the 'Place-names' of Argyll and the subjects of 'Probate Records' and 'Probate Records - Indexes.'

Read more about Scotland Probate Records.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Lewis, Samuel A., A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland (1846), pp. 458-478. Adapted. Date accessed: 23 May 2014.

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Argyllshire Parish List