Argyllshire, Scotland Genealogy

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Argyllshire is a maritime county in the west of Scotland, bounded on the north by Inverness-shire, on the east by the counties of Inverness, Perth, and Dumbarton, and on the south and west by the Firth of Clyde and the Atlantic Ocean.  It is about 115 miles in extreme length and about 50 or 60 miles in average breadth, comprising an area, including the various islands connected with it, of about 3800 square miles.  It contains about 50 parishes and six civil districts.  It includes the royal burghs of Inverary and Cambelltown and has several other small towns and villages.

The surface of the county is generally wild and mountainous but includes fertile tracts of valleys which afford productive arable land and good pasture.  Of the numerous islands included within the limits of the county, the principal are Mull, Jura, Islan, Coll, Tiree, Colonsay, Lismore, and Oronsay, with several smaller islands. Between these islands and the mainland are several extensive sounds.  The coasts are deeply indented with arms of the sea constituting salt-water lochs of considerable extent.

The quantity of land which is arable and in cultivation is little more than 100,000 acres; about 30,000 acres are in woodland and plantations and the remainder, nearly 1.300.000 acres, with the exception of about 25,000 in inland lakes and rivers, is principally heath and hill and mountain pasture.

Cattle, of the West Highland breed, and sheep are the chief livestock raised.  Limestone and coal are wrought and granite and marble are quarried.  Some lead and copper are mined.  The principal manufacture is wool, and also flax.  There are several distilleries, tanneries, and some bleach fields.  The herring-fishery in Loch Fine is on an extensive scale.  The population of the county in 1851 was 97,371.

At a very early period, the area was inhabited by the Scots who migrated from the Irish coast.  After the subjugation of the Picts and the union of the two kingdoms, it became identified with the general population of the country.  It is a place of celebrated romantic legend, the principal scene of the exploits of the heroes of the race of Fingal.  The family or clan of Campbell, ancestors of the Dukes of Argyll, for many generations possessed an absolute and sovereign authority over their vassals in the county.

(Source:  Samuel Lewis' Topographical Dictionary of Scotland, 2nd ed., 1851.  Family History Library book 941 E5L.)


Here is a list of historic parishes for the county of Argyll with their parish numbers. The insular parishes are islands off of the mainland. Click on the parish name to see information about records.

Acharacle or Aharacle -- see Ardnamurchan
Appin -- see Lismore
Ardchattan  (#504)

Ardgour -- see Ballachulish 
Ardnamurchan (#505)

Arisaig -- see Ardnamurchan

Ballachulish and Corran of Ardgour (#506)
Bowmore or Kilarrow (Insular) (#536)
Campbeltown  (#507)

Cara -- see Gigha 

Coll -- see Tyree 

Colonsay & Oronsay -- see Jura
Craignish  (#508)

Cumlodden (#509)

Dalavich -- see Kilchrenan and Dalavich

Dunoon & Kilmun  (#510)
Duror -- see Lismore

Gigha and Cara (Insular) (#537)
Glassary  (#511)

Glenarary -- see Inverarary 
Glencoe & Ballachulish -- see Lismore 

Glenorchy & Inishall  (#512)

Inishall -- see Glenorchy
Inveraray & Glenaray  (#513)

Inverchaolain  (#514)

Iona (Insular) (#538)

Jura and Colonsay (Insular) (#539)

Kilarrow -- see Bowmore 

Kilberry -- see Kilcalmonell 

Kilbrandon & Kilchattan (#515)

Kilbride -- see Kilmore and Kilbride 

Kilcalmonell and Kilberry  (#516)

Kilchattan -- see Kilbrandon & Kilchattan

Kilchenzie -- see Killean 

Kilchoman (Insular)  (#540)

Kilchrenan and Dalawich  (#517)

Kildalton (Insular)  (#541)

Kilfinan (#518)

Kilfinichen & Kilvickeon (Insular)  (#542)

Killean and Kilchenzie  (#519)

Kilmallie  (#520)

Kilmartin  (#521)

Kilmelfort -- see Kilninver

Kilmeny (Insular)  (#543)

Kilmodan  (#522)

Kilmore and Kilbride  (#523)

Kilmore (Insular) (#544)

Kilmorich -- see Lochgoilhead

Kilmun -- see Dunoon

Kilninian & Kilmore (Insular)  (#544)

Kilninver and Kilmelfort  (#524)

Kilvickeon -- see Kilfinichen 

Kinlochspelvie (Insular) (#545)

Kintra -- see Ardnamurchan

Lismore (#525)

Lochgilphead (#526)

Lochgoilhead and Kilmorich (#527)

Morvern (#528)

Muckairn (#529)

North Knapdale (#530)

OA (#546)

Oban -- see Kilmore and Kilbride

Portnahaven (Insular)(#547)

Saddell and Skipness (#531)

Salen (Insular) (#548)
Skipness -- see Saddell

Southend (#532)

South Knapdale (#533)

Strachur and Stralachlan (#534)

Stralachlan - see Strachur

Strontian -- see Ardnamurchan

Tarbert (#535)

Tobermory (#550)

Torosay (#550)

Tyree (#551)


Argyll and Bute were combined into one county in 1974. The county archives is the Argyll & Bute Council Archives, located in Lochgilphead. Situated at Manse Brae (for GPS use cross-street Cossack or Lochnell), the archive is small but well-equipped to assist researchers in family history. It is best to book a table before arrival. If you give them some idea of what type of records and the time period you want to research, the staff can be better prepared to assist you. They have a binder which lists family history sources, and the records are filed by the number given in that binder. To help prepare for a visit to the Argyll & Bute Council Archives, prepare a list of source numbers from the family history source binder. The council also accepts enquiries by letter, email, or text, and has a limited research service for those who cannot visit the archive. For details, see the archive website.


The Scottish government began taking censuses of its population in 1841, and every ten years there after. The records must be 100 years old before they are released to the public, so the most recent record available is for the 1911 census.  Read more about Census Records.

Many census records have been indexed by surname. Some indexes cover one parish (and will be listed in the Wiki on the parish page) and some indexes are for the county as a whole. The Family History Library has county-wide census placename indexes for Angus for 1841,1851 and 1881.  Click here for other census indexes available at the library.


Argyll c. 1845.jpg

Here is an historic map of Argyllshire.  Click on the map to see a larger version.  Click on the map again, then click on the 'Expand' button when it appears in the bottom right-hand corner of the map.

Click here to see an outline map of the parishes of Argyll.

[Return to county list.]


There were 5 workhouses in this county:

A description with drawings and photos of them today along with databases of those living there from the 1881 Census are provided on the links above located on the site entitled "The" which is owned and operated by Peter Higginbotham.

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