Govan, Lanarkshire, Scotland Genealogy

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Scotland Gotoarrow.png LanarkshireGotoarrow.png Govan

Govan (#646)

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


GOVAN, a parish, chiefly in the Lower ward of the county of Lanark, but partly in the Upper ward of the county of Renfrew; including the village of Strathbungo, and the late quoad sacra district of Partick; 2 miles (N. W.) from Glasgow. The name of this parish is generally supposed to have been derived from the two Saxon words god and win, "good wine," applied on account of the superior ale for which the place was celebrated, and which, after being kept for several years, approached in flavour to wine. The church, situated at the west end of the village of Govan, and about 100 yards from the Clyde, was built in 1826, and is a plain structure containing 1096 sittings: the design of the tower and spire was taken from the church of Stratford-upon-Avon, in England. The churchyard is raised several feet above the level of the adjacent ground, and is surrounded by a double row of venerable elms. There are places of worship belonging to the Free Church, United Secession, Relief Church, and Roman Catholics.[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  Click on ‘Browse scanned pages’ then search the parish reports for Govan. 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 Govan.

Below is information for any known surname indexes:

Years Surname Index            
1851 6203884
1861 6205863
1881 6086616 ( 41 fiche)

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.

Here are the pre-1855 records that exist for this parish with their Catalog/frameset_fhlc.asp Family History Library call numbers.

Established Church—Kirk Session Records

Event Years Covered FHL Film Number
Births: 1680-1689 - transcripts 0990755 item 2
1689-1750 1066591 item 5
1750-1854 1066592
1848-1854 - index 1066592
1847-1854 - neglected entries 1066592
Marriages:    1689-1855 1066592
1820-1854 - index 1066592
Deaths: 1817-1855 - burials 1066592
Condition of Original Registers—

Indexed: 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 the International Genealogical Index. 
Births: Before October 1692 and a few entries after December 1703, the names of witnesses to the baptisms are not added.
Marriages: Marriage entries are tabulated after January 1762.
Deaths: In the death register the cause of death is usually stated.
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 1651–1662, 1710–1821
Baptismal Register 1850–1903
Note: Available at the Glasgow City Archives, Glasgow, record CH2/1277.

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.

Govan United Presbyterian Church

In the year 1837 a station in connection with the United Secession Church was formed in the village of Govan. At that time the membership was 30 while the population of Govan was 1000. In 1846 the membership, exclusive of adherents, was 85. A church was built the following year. A new church on Govan Road was opened in 1870.
Source: Annals and Statistics of the United Presbyterian Church, by Rev. William MacKelvie, D.D., pub. 1873. Family History Library Film #477618. More details may be given in the source including name of ministers.

Records—                    FHL Film Number
Minutes,   1847–1872     1886224 items 2–3 vault
Managers and Congregational Minutes, 1845–1865

Summerton Free Church

This church represents the original Govan Free Church. Immediately after the Disruption steps were taken to build and equip a Free Church. During the first year Free Church adherents in the parish worshiped either in Renfrew or at Kingston. The church and manse were erected on the bank of the River Clyde, the manse being the lower story of the church. In 1846 the church was enlarged and a school built. The church was again enlarged in 1862. In 1873 a new church was erected on a different site, the establishment of public works in the neighborhood having made a change necessary. A number of office bearers and members were disjoined in 1873 to assist in forming Free St. Mary’s congregation.
Membership: 1848, 222; 1900, 449.
Source: Annals of the Free Church of Scotland, 1843–1900, ed. Rev. William Ewing, D.D., 2 vols. pub. 1914. Family History Library Film #918572. More details may be given in the source including a list of ministers.

Records—                                           FHL Film Number
Deacons’ Court Minutes     1844–1864   1886224 item 4 vault

Anderson Partick Free Church

This congregation was formed immediately after the Disruption. A church was built and opened in February 1844. A new church was erected on the same site in 1860. Partick, in 1843 a village of 2000 inhabitants, grew very rapidly. The church built among green fields came in time to be in a slum district.
Membership: 1848, 229; 1900, 512.
Source: Annals of the Free Church of Scotland, 1843–1900, ed. Rev. William Ewing, D.D., 2 vols. pub. 1914. Family History Library Film #918572. More details may be given in the source including a list of ministers.

Session Minutes 1844–1858
Deacons’ Court Minutes 1844–1962
Other Post–1855 records
Note: Available at the Glasgow City Archives, Glasgow, record CH2/1406.

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.

Poor Law Records

Prior to 1845, the care of the poor was the joint responsibility of the kirk session and the heritors (local landowners).  Beginning in 1845, parochial boards were responsible and they collected funds from property taxes rather than church collections and contributions from heritors.  The New Poor Law system took a while to be fully accepted in all areas of the country, though in some areas civil responsibility was practiced from the 1830's.  (For further information, see the Wiki article on Scotland Poorhouses, Poor Law, Etc.)

Records for the combined (for poor law purposes) parishes of Govan and Gorbals survive from 1878 when they were united with Glasgow (also for poor law purposes). Look in the Family History Library catalog for records on microfilm. Records for Govan before 1878 do not appear to survive.

An index has been created to the Glasgow area applications for relief that is available as a searchable database on computer at the Glasgow City Archives, Mitchell Library, in Glasgow.  There is no cost for using the index or the archive collection.  Once a search is made in the index and a reference is found, the appropriate register is ordered.  After a short wait, you can view the original register in the archive's search room.  You can read all about the search room rules by clicking here.

Probate Records

Govan was under the probate jurisdiction of the Commissary Court of Hamilton and campsie until 1823, and since then has been under the Sheriff's Court of Glasgow. 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 Lanark 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 Lanark.  Look in the library catalog for the 'Place-names' of Lanark 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. 514-527. Adapted. Date accessed: 28 February 2014.

Return to the Lanarkshire parish list.