Sorn, Ayrshire, Scotland Genealogy

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Parish #613

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


The original name of the parish was Dalgain. The sorn means a snout or projection probably from the projection, promontory, eminence, on which the castle stands.  Sorn and  Catrine are the nearest towns.The Sorn Castle stands upon a rock overhanging the river Ayr, and within a short distance of the church and manse. It is unknown who erected it.
     Mrs. A. Somervell of Sorn Castle; Miss Gray Farquhar of Gilmillscroft; Robert Campbell, Esq. of Auchmannoch; and George Rankin, Esq. of Burnhead, were the major land owners.  The land was primarily used for,  rye-grass, hay, turnips,  potatoes, beans, carrots, cattle, sheep, and horses.
    The population in 1797 was 2779, and in 1836 was 4120.  The number of people belonging to the Establishment is 3360, 760 belong to other denominations, chiefly to the United Secessions.

This account was written in 1837.

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

Years Family History Library. Film Number Surname Index           
1841 1042738 CD-ROM no. 2524
1851 1042409
1861 103807
1871 103966
1881 203608 6086514 ( 10 fiche)
1891 220227

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.

Established Church—Old Parochial Registers

Years Covered Family History Library. Film Number
Births: 1692-1827 1041467
1827-1854 1041468 item 1-2
Marriages: 1692-1820 1041467
1820-1854 1041468 item 1-2
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 FamilySearch Records.

Births: Births are intermixed with marriages until October 1796.
Marriages: Marriages are intermixed with births until October 1796. There are no entries October 1796–December 1805. There are proclamations only 1806–1816 inclusive. Marriages again recorded after January 1817.
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 1692–1741, 1752–1763, 1791–1898
Collections and Distributions 1752–1832, 1847–1907
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/403.

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.

Catrine United Presbyterian Church

Catrine is a village in the western extremity of the parish of Sorn. This congregation was formed partly by members of the congregation of Mauchline in 1833, and partly by members of Auchinleck Congregation. A church was built in 1835.
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 ministers.

Kirk Session Minutes 1835–1882
Other Post–1855 records
Note: Available at the Aryshire Archives Centre, Ayr, Scotland, record CH3/1506.

Catrine Free Church

William Hutcheson, minister of the quoad sacra church at Catrine, and most of his congregation "came out" in 1843, and shortly afterwards were deprived of the church by interdict. They had little difficulty in providing a new church. At first the congregation belonged to Ayr Presbytery, but in 1861 it was transferred to that of Irvine.
Membership: 1848, 546; 1900, 280.
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.

Catrine Evangelical Union Church

A church was formed in 1844 and the congregation joined the union the same year. A church building was opened for public worship in 1851. The church ceased to meet in 1926.
Source: A History of Scottish Congregationalism, by Harry Escott, pub. 1960. Family History Library British book 941 K2es. It also 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, Scotland.

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

Sorn 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