Torthorwald, Dumfriesshire, Scotland Genealogy

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Parish #850

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


TORTHORWALD, a parish, in the county of Dumfries containing the villages of Collin and Roucan, 4¼ miles (E. N. E.) from Dumfries. This place derives its name, signifying in the Saxon language the "Tower of Thor in the wood," from the ruins of an ancient castle nearly in the centre of the parish, which is said to have been originally surrounded by an extensive forest. The parish is bounded by the river Lochar. The church, conveniently situated nearly in the centre of the parish, is a neat substantial structure, erected in 1782, and containing 500 sittings.[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.($)  Click on ‘Browse scanned pages’ then search the parish reports for Torthorwald.  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 Torthorwald. 

Below is information for any known surname indexes:

Years Surname Index          
1841 941.48/T4 X22 1841
1851 941.48/T5 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: 1696-1854 1067971 item 5-6
Marriages: 1696-1807, 1812-1854 1067971 item 5-6
Deaths: 1697-1808, 1819-1854 1067971 item 5-6
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: There are no entries August 1701–November 1730. After the record for November 1745 there are two pages containing entries for 1726–1752. Mothers' names are not recorded until April 1810.
Marriages: There are no entries January 1701–1727, February 1741–July 1743, October 1750–April 1752, November 1755–June 1758, 1778, 1787, 1796, and August 1807–October 1821 except two entries for 1812.
Deaths: There are no death or burial entries August 1701–January 1734, and January 1808–December 1819 except one, 1733. Entries after 1764 often contain information relating to the last illness of the deceased.
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:

Accounts                           1729–1750, 1762–1769, 1808–1840
Minutes                              1696–1701, 1729–1852
Miscellaneous Documents   1738, 1800
Note: Available at the Scottish National Archives, Edinburgh, record CH2/771.

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.

No known nonconformist groups, though in 1833 there were within the parish 28 families of Dissenters who would have attended services in neighboring parishes.

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

Torthorwald 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 catalog  for 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. 546-567. Adapted. Date accessed: 21 March 2014.

Return to the Dumfriesshire  parish list.