Old Cumnock, Ayrshire, Scotland Genealogy

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Old Cumnock

Parish #610

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


The name Cumnock seems to be compounded of the Gaelic words com, a bosom, and conoc, a hill; thus signifying the bosom of the hill.  Cumnock is the nearest town.  About the year 1600 two traveling merchants, each with a pack of cloth upon a horse, were dismissed from Ayr and gone Cumnock, and there sold their goods. There followed upon this such a plague in the town that the living were hardly able to bury the dead.  The major land owners were: The Marquis of Bute; James Allason, Esq. of Gasnock W. A. Cunnnghame, Esq. of Logan;  and Mrs. Boswell of Garallan.  The land was primarily used for cheese, rye-grass, meadow hay, oats, wheat, barley, bear, potatoes, pea, beans, and turnips.

The population in 1792 was 1632.  The population in 1831 was 2763.  The registers begin in 1704. There are blanks in it from 1706 to 1724, from 1739 to 1740, from 1746 to 1751, and from 1752 to 1753.

Nearly two-thirds of the population of the parish belong to the Established Church, and rather more than one-third are Dissenters.

This account was written in 1837.

source: New Statistical Account of Scotland (FHL book 941 B4sa, series 2 vol. 5)

TheNew 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 http://edina.ac.uk/stat-acc-scot/.  Click on ‘Browse scanned pages’ then search the parish reports for Old Cumnock. 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 Old Cumnock as well as the library numbers for any surname indexes available:

Years FHL Film Number Surname Index        
1841 1042738 CD-ROM no.  2524
1851 1042409
1861 103806
1871 103965
1881 203607 6086514 ( 10 fiche)
1891 220225

The 1901 census of Scotland is indexed on www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk.  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: 1704-1706, 1724-1820 1041402
1819-1854 1041403
Marriages: 1737-1740, 1758-1819 1041402
1819-1854 1041403
Deaths: 1783-1792 1041402

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 FamilySearch Records.
Births: There are no entries, except one entry for 1718, April 1706–July 1724, September 1746–April 1751 and March 1752–April 1753. There are six irregular entries for 1782–1826 on the page after births for January 1783.
Marriages: There are only four entries, two for 1737 and two for 1740, prior to June 1758. Proclamations are dominant from January 1769–April 1788.
Deaths: After December 1784 is a page entitled "Register of Deaths from October 1st 1785" containing fifteen names without any dates or other information. No entries again until August 1788. Record ends November 1792.
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 1704–1929
Accounts 1754–1910
Communion Roll 1855–1867
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/81.

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.

Cumnock Associate, later United Presbyterian Church

This congregation originated in the efforts of Mr. Rankine, who, having settled in Cumnock, induced a number of persons connected with the Established Church to apply to the Associate Burgher, Presbytery of Glasgow, for supply of sermon, which was granted in 1773. The first church was built in 1775 and the second in 1831.
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 1789–1809, 1820–1896
Treasurer's Accounts 1793–1848
Seat Money 1785
Stipend Receipts 1778–1785
Collections for Congregational Debt 1791
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH3/642.

Old Cumnock Free Church

Ninian Bannatyne, minister of the parish, and many of his people, "came out" in 1843. The church was built in October 1843, and a manse was also erected. In 1899 the old church was replaced by a new building. A successful school was carried on until 1873.
Membership: 1848, 300; 1900, 234.
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.

The extent of records is unknown.

Old Cumnock, St. Patrick’s Catholic Church

A history is unavailable. In 1881 the priest established a mission at Birnieknowe and took the registers with him. Records date from 1850 but the church could have been older.

Baptisms and Marriages 1850+
Confirmations 1855+
Note: For information from the registers, write to the parish priest at Auchinleck,
Our Lady of Lourdes and St. Patrick’s
35 Sorn Road
Auchinleck KA18 2HR

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

Old Cumnock 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 www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk.  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.

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