Kilwinning, Ayrshire, Scotland Genealogy

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Parish #599

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


This parish takes its name from St Winnin, a Scottish saint of the eighth century, to whom the ancient church of this place was dedicated. Irvine, Doura, Fergushill, and Dalgarven are the nearest towns. The fame and sanctity of St Winnin led to the building of the splendid monastery, near the site of the more ancient church of this place. According to the commonly received account, it was founded in the reign of David I, A. D. 1140, by Hugh de Moreville, Constable of Scotland. The land was primarily used for oats, potatoes, sheep, cows, sheep, cattle, horses, wheat, dairy, cheese, and coal.

The population in 1792 was 2360. The population in 1841 was 5251. The record of baptisms begins 27th April 1669, and that of proclamations, 14th July 1676 and both are continued with few interruptions to the present day. In recent times, the register of births is far from being complete, and there is none of deaths or burials.

Besides the Established Church, there are also congregations of United Secessions and Original Seceders."

This history was written in 1842.

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 Kilwinning. 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 Kilwinning as well as the library numbers for any surname indexes available:

Years FHL Film Number Surname Index      
1841     1042736 CD-ROM no. 2524
1851 1042406
1861 103804
1871 103963
1881 203603 6086514 ( 10 fiche)
1891 220220

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: 1699-1854 1041389
Marriages: 1678-1854 1041389
Deaths: No entries

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 in theInternational Genealogical Index.  

Births:There are no entries April 1685–July 1687 or May 1730–January 1731. On the pages prior to 1697 many entries are partially destroyed.
Marriages: Six entries for 1669–1671 are found after June 1791. There are no entries September 1694–December 1696.
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 1656–1684, 1688–1698, 1712–1729, 1738–1765, 1780–1787, 1803–1931
Accounts 1668–1670, 1674–1824
Letters 1742–1842
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/591.

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.

Kilwinning United Presbyterian Church

This congregation originated with the minority of the first congregation, Kilwinning, who joined the United Associate Synod in 1820, together with a portion of the Associate Burgher congregation of Saltcoats, resident in and about Kilwinning, who, in consequence of the union which then took place between the two great branches of the secession, found themselves in a condition to join with them. A church was built in 1824, and another church was built in 1838.
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.

The extent of pre–1855 records is unknown.

Kilwinning Free Church

A station was established here at the Disruption, under the supervision of Dr. Landsborough of Stevenston. The charge was sanctioned in 1845. The church was built in 1846 on a site presented by Miss Donald of Kilburnie. The manse was erected in 1848. A new church was built in 1861. Rapid development of the coal and iron industries after 1844 brought an increase of population, from which the congregation benefited.
Membership: 1848, 230; 1900, 342.
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 1843–1928
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH3/762.

Kilwinning Evangelical Union Church

The church was formed in May 1844 and was admitted to the Evangelical Union the following year. A church building was opened for public worship at Wood Wynd in March 1850, it is still active today.
Source: A History of Scottish Congregationalism, by Harry Escott, pub. 1960. Family History Library British book 941 K2es. It includes a list of ministers.

The extent of records is unknown. For information write to:
The United Reformed Church, Scottish Synod Office
PO Box 189, 240 Cathedral Street
Glasgow G1 2BX

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

Kilwinning 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