Glencairn, Dumfriesshire, Scotland Genealogy

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Parish #826

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


GLENCAIRN, a parish, in the county of Dumfries, 13½ miles (N. W. by W.) from Dumfries containing the villages of Dunreggan, Kirkland, and Minnyhive. The old church contained only accommodation for 500 or 600 persons, and was an uncomfortable building; a new one was erected to seat upwards of 1000 persons. There are also a place of worship for members of the Free Church, and one belonging to the United Secession.[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 Glencairn.  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 for a list of the Family History Library microfilm numbers for the census records of Glencairn. 

Below is information for any known surname indexes:

Years Surname Index            
1841 941.48/G2 X22
1851 941.48/G2 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: 1693-1854 1067962 item 3-4
Marriages: 1694-1740, 1823-1854 1067962 item 3-4
Deaths: 1825-1836 1067962 item 3-4
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: The first page is largely destroyed. There are no entries May 1719–1722 and only two entries April 1743–May 1745. There are six entries for 1785–1797 recorded at January.
Marriages: There are no entries January 1696–December 1699, October 1719–December 1722, and January 1740–1823.
Deaths: No record appears to have been kept prior to 1825 and 1836–1854.
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                                   1693–1695, 1701–1712, 1718–1743, 1760–1771, 1784–1916
Cash Book                               1783–1798, 1808–1819, 1823–1847, 1864–1914
Marriage Register                      1843–1904
Baptismal Register                    1844–1851, 1855–1871
Deaths                                     1842–1865
Communion Rolls                      1839–1843, 1854, 1869–1914
Note: Available at the Scottish National Archives, Edinburgh, record CH2/617.

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.

Moniaive Associate, later United Presbyterian Church

Moniaive is a village in the parish of Glencairn, which is bounded on the southwest by Dunscore. The minister of Dunscore was deposed by the General Assembly in 1715. He continued, notwithstanding, to preach to his people, and they to adhere to him, but dispersed after his death. Part of the members joined the Old Dissenters, better known in the locality as "The M'Millanites, or Mountain Men." The remainder abstained from any ecclesiastical connection until the origin of the Secession, when they joined themselves to it. They were associated with the Seceders in Morton, Glencairn, and surrounding parishes, and had sermon supplied to them by the Associate Presbytery at the village of Closeburn. At the formation of the congregation of Sanquhar, they were included in it. In 1755 they were organized as a congregation, under the designation of "The United Congregation of Glencairn and Closeburn". It was shortly afterwards found that the majority of the persons in attendance were from the west, and that Moniaive, in the parish of Glencairn, would be more convenient for them as the place of meeting, while those in the south and east thought Thornhill, in the parish of Morton, the more desirable place for them. Closeburn was therefore abandoned, supply of sermon afforded alternately to the new–chosen places, and the name of the congregation changed into that of "The United Congregation of Moniaive and Thornhill." These were disjoined, and organized as separate congregations in 1805. The first church was built about 1775; the second about 1800; and the third was built in 1834 on the same site.
Membership: 1835, 111 families.
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.

FHL Film Number
Baptisms                               1837–1849 0889486 item 10
Births and Baptisms                1849–1911 0889486 item 10
Membership List                     1824–1833 0889486 item 10

Glencairn Free Church, later Glencarin and Monaive United Free Church

Patrick Borrowman, three elders, and a large part of the congregation "came out" in 1843. Mr. Borrowman had taken an active part in the movement, and local sympathy was very strongly with the Non-Intrusionists. The United Secession church in Monaive was kindly granted service on Sunday afternoons. The church, not far from the village, was built and opened in December 1843; later renovated in 1888.
Membership: 1848, 462; 1900, 119.
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.

Deacons' Court Minutes 1845–1949
Note: Available at the Scottish National Archives, Edinburgh, record CH3/538.

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

Glencairn 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 catalog for the 'Place-names' 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-names' 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. 499-514. Adapted. Date accessed: 20 March 2014.

Return to the Dumfriesshire parish list.