Girvan, Ayrshire, Scotland Genealogy

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Parish #594

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


This history was written in 1837. This parish takes its name from the small river, at the mouth of which it is situated. Girvan is the nearest town. Many people from Ireland have immigrated to work in the cotton weaving industry. The Duchess de Coigney; Mr. Kennedy of Dunure, Mr. Craufurd of Ardmillan; and Mr. Fergusson of Trochrigg are the major landowners. The land was primarily used for cattle, sheep, milk cows, wheat, barley, oats, turnips, potatoes, beans, and peas.

The population in 1801 was 2260. The population in 1831 was 6430. There is a Burgher meeting house, and a small Methodist chapel.

Most of the parish belong to the Established Church, but there are about 200 Seceders, and about 100 Roman Catholics.

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 Girvan. 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 microfilm numbers for the census records of Girvan as well as the library numbers for any surname indexes available:

Years Family History Library Film Number Surname Index        
1841 1042734 CD-ROM no. 2524
1851 1042403
1861 103802
1871 103961
1881 203598 6086514 ( 10 fiche)
1891 220214

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 Scotland Church Records.

Established Church—Old Parochial Registers

Years Covered Family History Library Film Number
Births: 1733-1820 1041379
1819-1855 1041380
Marriages: 1783-1794 1041379
1825-1854 1041380
Deaths: 1783-1794 1041379

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 on theInternational Genealogical Index.

Births:There are no entries August 1746–January 1748, except part of a page containing imperfect entries for 1747. There are no entries April 1762–February 1763. The entries previous to December 1769 are numbered from 1 to 1454. Mothers' names are seldom recorded until 1772.
Marriages:No entries January 1794–1825 except for one entry for 1811.
Deaths: Burials are recorded on alternate pages 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 1848–1943
Note:Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/ 801, 802.

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.

 Girvan Secession, later United Presbyterian Church

This congregation originated partly with members of the Secession Church resident in the district, who were desirous of having a place of worship more conveniently situated, partly with "Protestors" at Colmonell, together with members of the Established Church who were dissatisfied with its government and discipline. They united in a petition to the Associate Burgher Presbytery of Kilmarnock for a supply of sermon in 1812, which was granted. A church was built in 1814. A new church was opened on the 25th of September 1870, by Dr. M'Ewen.
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, including a list of ministers.

Minutes 1845–1901
Treasurer's Accounts 1833–1870
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH3/774.

Girvan Free Church

The adherents of the Free Church who formed this congregation at the Disruption came mainly from the quoad sacra church which had been erected in 1842. Trouble arose in May 1844 when they wished to call P. Hately Waddell, probationer, to the pastorate. He had been prominent as a student in the Free Church cause; but he refused to sign the confession. His licence was withdrawn on the ground of contumacy; and his followers formed an independent congregation in Girvan. This crippled the Free Church congregation from the outset. They worshiped in the "Extension Church" until they were deprived of it in 1855. From that time they met in the school until their own church was opened in 1857. After 1867 the congregation suffered through decline of the population, due to the failure of hand-loom weaving.
Membership: 1848, 250; 1900, 204.
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, including a list of ministers.

Minutes 1844–1929
Communion Roll 1843–1866
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH3/760.

Girvan West Reformed, later Free Church

This congregation, originally Reformed Presbyterian, joined the Free Church in 1876. The Reformed congregation had been created in 1845 when it was disjoined from Colmonell. A church was built in 1847. This was always a small congregation. After the union and the departure of the minister for the West Indies, it was found unnecessary to maintain a second Free Congregation in Girvan, and in 1879 the charge was reduced to a preaching station.
Membership: 1850, 36; 1877, 63; 1878, 73.
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, including a list of ministers.

Minutes 1845–1874
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH3/671.

Girvan Catholic Church

In 1834, there were 81 Catholic families in Girvan. They were served from Ayr since before 1829. A church was dedicated in 1860.

Baptisms 1850–1908
Marriages 1850–1938
Note: Available online for a fee, at, Edinburgh, record RH21/55.

Girvan Scottish Episcopal Church


Baptisms 1847–1944
Marriages 1847–1860
Burials 1856–1944
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH12/6.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter- Day Saints


FHL Film Number
Record of Members 1848–1852 0104151 item 7

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

Girvan 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   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