Ayrshire, Scotland Genealogy
Ayrshire, an extensive county on the western coast of Scotland, is bounded on the north by Refrewshire, on the east by the counties of Lanark and Dumfries, on the south by the stewartry of Kirkcudbright and the county of Wigton, and on the west by the Firth of Clyde and the Irish Channel. It is about sixty miles in length and nearly thirty in extreme breadth. It comprised an area of about 1600 square miles or 1,024,000 acres. It includes forty-six parishes and is divided into the districts of Carrick, Kyle, and Cunninghame. It contains the royal burghs of Ayr (the county town) and Irvine. There are thirteen towns and numerous large and populous villages.
The surface of the county is varied. The district of Cunninghame in the north is comparitively level. In Kyle, which is the central portion, it is hilly and uneven though containing some large tracts of fertile and well cultivated land. The district of Carrick in the south is wild and mountainous. The coast, particularly that of Carrick, is precipitous, rocky and dangerous, and possesses few good harbours. About one-third of the land is arable and in cultivation and the remainder, of which a very large portion is mountain waste, is chiefly meadow and pasture. The county is distinguished for its excellent breed of cattle and its fine produce. The moors abound with game and the rivers with salmon and trout. There is coal, which is abundant and worked, ironstone, lead and cooper ore, etc. There are also quarries for freestone and marble.
The manufactures are of wool, linen, cotton, thread, and muslin. There are tanneries and potteries, iron-foundries and iron-works. There are fisheries and salt-works and works for kelp and soda. The population in 1851 was 164,356.
(Source: Samuel Lewis' Topographical Dictionary of Scotland, 2nd ed., 1851. Family History Library book 941 E5L.)
Here is a list of the historic parishes of Ayrshire with their parish number. Click on the parish name to see information about records.
The Scottish government began taking censuses of its population in 1841, and every ten years thereafter. The records must be 100 years old before they are released to the public, so the most recent record available is for the 1901 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 indexes for Ayr for 1841 and 1881.
Click here to see an outline map of the parishes of Ayrshire.
An online index to the poor law records for northern Ayrshire is available for free on the website of the North Ayrshire Vennel Local and Family History Centre in Irvine. You must register to use the index.
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