Graitney (or Gretna), Dumfriesshire, Scotland Genealogy

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Graitney (or Gretna)

Parish #827

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


GRAITNEY, vulgarly called Gretna, a parish, in the county of Dumfries, 9½ miles (N. by W.) from Carlisle, and 309 (N. W. by N.) from London containing the villages of Springfield and Rigg. The derivation of the name of this place is doubtful; but it is usually traced to the words Great knowe, descriptive of a hill standing at the distance of about a quarter of a mile from the church. The church was built in 1790, and is a commodious building capable of containing 800 persons. There is a meeting-house at the village of Rigg, belonging to the United Associate Synod.[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.($) on ‘Browse scanned pages’ then search the parish reports for Graitney (or Gretna).  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 Graitney (or Gretna).

Below is information for any known surname indexes:

Years Surname Index           
1841 941.48/G1 X22
1851 941.48/G1 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: 1730-1786 1067962 item 7
1786-1854 1067963 item 1-2
Marriages: 1730-1854 1067963 item 1-2
Deaths: No entries 1067963 item 1-2
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 entries from 1781–1786 in many parts are illegible, but there is a transcript of the portion of November 1783–July 1786 which is continued as the principal register. The record commencing April 1804 bears to be for the united parishes of Graitney and Red Kirk. Mother's names rarely recorded before 1753 and are sometimes omitted after 1753.
Marriages: Entries in some parts 1781–1786 are illegible. There are no entries January 1786–September 1788.
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:

None available

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.

Rigg of Gretna United Presbyterian Church

Rigg is a village in the parish of Gretna. About the beginning of the 1800s, sermon was occasionally afforded to this place by various ministers of the Secession Church, but was afterwards discontinued. Some farmers and other persons of the area, who had been some time resident in England where they had become convinced of the scriptural nature of self supported churches, would not therefore submit to the ministrations of an incumbent imposed upon them by the patron of the parish. They thence took steps to procure a minister of their own choice, by applying, in 1830, to the United Associate Presbytery of Annan and Carlisle for supply of sermon, which was granted. A church was built in 1832.
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.

The extent of records is unknown. No records are deposited at a record office or library.

See also Halfmorton

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

Graitney ( or Gretna)  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 catalogfor 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. 514-527. adapted. Date accessed: 20 March 2014.

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