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Bowmore or Kilarrow (Insular), Argyllshire, Scotland Genealogy

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Parish #536

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

To learn more about how to use these records to search for your ancestors, go to the Scotland: Research Strategies.

History[edit | edit source]

KILARROW and KILMENY, a parish, in the district of Islay, county of Argyll, 10½ miles (S. S. W.) from Portaskaig; containing the villages of Bowmore and Bridgend. These two ancient parishes, now united, are said by some to derive their names from the original founders of their respective churches; and are frequently designated as the parish of Bowmore, from the erection of the new church of Kilarrow in that village. The parish church is an elegant structure of circular form, with a handsome spire, erected in 1767, enlarged by the addition of galleries in 1828, and containing 830 sittings. A church, also, has long existed at Kilmeny about seven miles distant.[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  Click on ‘Browse scanned pages’ then search the parish reports for Bowmore or Kilarrow. Also available at the Family History Library.

Census Records[edit | edit source]

A census record is a count and description of the population, taken by the government, arranged by locality and by household. Read more about  census records.    

Here is a list of the Family History Library microfilm numbers for the census records of Bowmore or Kilarrrow as well as the library numbers for any surname indexes available:


Years FHL Film Number Surname Index            
1841 1042719 941.38 X22s 1841 v. 1-5
1851 1042354 941.39 X2a
1861 103798 none
1871 103955 none
1881 203561 6086508 - (set of 4 fiche)
1891 220172 none

The 1901 and 1911 census of Scotland is indexed on  To use it, you must register and pay a small access fee. All available censuses, 1841-1911, 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[edit | edit source]

The Established Church of Scotland was Presbyterian. Read more about church records.

Here are the pre-1855 records that exist for this parish.

Established Church — Old Parochial Registers[edit | edit source]

Years Covered FHL Fillm Number
Births: 1763-1854 1041078 items 1-3
1802-1854-Kilmeny 1041080 items 1-2
Marriages: 1771-1854 1041078 items 1-3
Deaths: 1817-1831 1041078 items 1-3

Condition of Original Records[edit | edit source]

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.Also see Familysearch catalog for index on microfiche or using batch number search C11536-1, 2 and 5 M11536-1, M11536-2, M11536-5 on
Births: Only three entries appear prior to May 1770, and there are none March 1778–March 1780. Six irregular entries occur 1775–1782 after June 1783 and 18 similar entries, two families, appear 1768–1791 on two pages at November 1786.
Marriages: Only one entry occurs June 1781–February 1783. The fact of marriage is rarely added to the entries of proclamations prior to November 1789, omitted in 1803–1804 and sometimes after 1816.
Deaths: The record contains mortcloth dues.
Source: Key to the Parochial Registers of Scotland, by V. Ben Bloxham, pub. 1970. British book 941 K23b.
Note: Kilmeny is a “quoad sacra” parish belonging to the parish of Bowmore or Killarrow.

Established Church—Kirk Session Records[edit | edit source]

The Kirk session was the court of the parish. The Kirk 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.

Extent of pre-1855 records is unknown. Records may be available at the Scottish National Archives, Edinburgh, as record CH2/1282 for Kilarrow. The Statistical Account of Scotland for Kilarrow for 1843, states that there were minute books commencing in 1823 and poor accounts commencing in 1819.

According to the National Archives of Scotland Bowmore and Kilarrow is CH2/1281 and CH2/1281/1-8

This is what is listed.

 Reference Title Date Access status
CH2/1281 Records of Kilarrow and Bowmore Kirk Session 1859-1977
CH2/1281/1 Minutes 1859-1904 Check details
CH2/1281/2 Minutes 1894-1912 Check details
CH2/1281/3 Minutes 1912-1938
CH2/1281/4 Minutes 1938-1958
CH2/1281/5 Cash book 1934-1948
CH2/1281/6 Proclamation register 1884-1936 Check details
CH2/1281/7 Proclamation register 1965-1977
CH2/1281/8 Communion roll 1947-1952

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 List.

Kilarrow and Kilmeny Free Church[edit | edit source]

The minister and many of the congregation of the quoad sacra church of Kilmeny left the Established Church in 1843 and were joined by those who left the parish church of Kilarrow. They built a new church at Skerrols in February 1844 and a manse in 1846. The rural population declined considerably. The members and adherents from Bowmore and its vicinity were disjoined in 1859 and made a separate charge.
Membership: 1855, 215 (including adherents); 1900, 32.
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 ministers.

Extent of pre-1855 records is unknown. Records may be available at the Scottish National Archives, Edinburgh, as record CH3/1268. CH3/1268 and CH3/1268/1

Reference Title Date Access status
CH3/1268 Kilarrow & Kilmeny, Free Church, Later United Free 1843-1916
CH3/1268/1 Minutes 1843-1916

Bowmore Baptist Church[edit | edit source]

The Baptist church in the area began about 1812 through the efforts of missionaries. The church was later weakened by emigration to Canada but survived and flourished.
Source: History of the Baptists in Scotland, by Rev. George Yuille, pub. 1926. FHL book 941 K2hi. More details may be given in the source including a list of ministers.

The extent of records is unknown; though it is doubtful there are any pre-1855 records.
For information write to:
The Baptist Union of Scotland
12 Aytoun Road
Glasgow G41 5RT

Bowmore Free Church, Later United Free[edit | edit source]

Reference Title Date Access status
CH3/1269 Bowmore Free Church, Later United Free 1858-1917
CH3/1269/1 Minutes 1858-1917

CH3/1269 and CH3/1269/1 and National Achives of Scotland

Civil Registration Records[edit | edit source]

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

Maps[edit | edit source]

Visit the National Library of Scotland website to view and search maps for various time periods.

National Library of Scotland

Probate Records[edit | edit source]

Bowmore or Kilarrow was under the probate jurisdiction of the Commissary Court of The Isles until 1823, and since then has been under the Sheriff's Court of Dunoon. Probate records for 1513- 1925 are indexed online at You must register on the website but use of the index to probate records, called 'Wills and 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 Argyll and the subject of 'Probate records.' Then click on the link to the records of the Commissariat of The Isles.

The library also has some post-1823 probate records for Argyll. Look in the library catalog for the 'Place-names' of Argyll and the subjects of 'Probate Records' and 'Probate Records - Indexes.' also has the Principal Probate Registery Indexes 1858-1966 and can be checked under the Isle of Islay for Probate documents 

Read more about Scotland Probate Records.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Lewis, Samuel A., Topographical Dictionary of Scotland (1846), pp. 1-22. Adapted. Date accessed: 23 May 2014.

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