Dumfriesshire, Scotland Genealogy Genealogy

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Scotland Gotoarrow.png Dumfriesshire

Dumfriesshire is in the south of Scotland, bounded on the north by the counties of Lanark, Peebles, and Selkirk, on the east by Roxburghshire and part of the English county of Cumberland, on the south by the Solway Firth, and on the west by the county of Ayr and the stewartry of Kirkcudbright.  It is about fifty miles in length and thirty miles in breadth, compirising 1016 square miles or 650,240 acres. The county includes forty-two parishes, the royal burghs of Dumfries (the county town), Annan, Lochmaben, and Sanquhar, and six towns which are all burghs of barony.

The county has had a colorful history.  After the departure of the Romans it was occupied by the Northumbrian Saxons and subsequently by numerous emigrants from Ireland who had sttled first on the peninsula of Cantyre.  During the reign of David I, many of the Norman barons obtained possessions here.  Previous to the reign of James VI, the county was often the scene of predatory incursions of the English. 

The surface of the county near the sea-coast is level, rising towards the middle portion into ridges of hills of moderate elevation, intersected with fertile vales, and becoming mountainous in the north.  The whole is separated into three principal districts, each deriving its name from the river which flows through it:  Eskdale forms the eastern, Annandale the middle, and Nithsdale the western part of the county.  The Solway Firth is inconsiderable in depth, and at the ebbing of the tide, long sandy reaches are left.  The flows and ebbs of the tide, particularly in spring, make it dangerous for persons crossing to Cumberland by foot who are overtaken by the waters.

Cattle, sheep, and pigs are raised, the latter in vast quantities, and meat is shipped to England markets.  Lead is very abundant and is mined, and contains a considerable proportion of silver.  Gold is also found in quartz.  Antimony is mined; also coal.  Sandstone is extensively quarried as is limestone, and there are also veins of slate and marble.  There is not much manufacturing.

The population in 1851 was 72,830.

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


Historic Parishes for the County of Dumfries
Parish No. Parish No.
Annan 812 Kirkconnel 834
Applegarth and Sibbaldbie 813a Kirkmahoe 835
Brydekirk 813b Kirkmichael 836
Canonbie 814 Kirkpatrick-Fleming 837
Carlaverock 815 Kirkpatrick-Juxta 838
Closeburn 816 Langholm (formerly Staplegortoun) 839
Corrie -- see Hutton 831 Lochmaben 840
Cummertrees 817 Middlebie 841
Dalton 818 Moffat 842
Dornock 819 Morton 843
Dryfesdale 820 Mouswald 844
Dumfries 821 Penpont  845
Dunscore 822 Ruthwell 846
Durrisdeer 823 St. Mungo  847
Eskdalemuir 824 Sanquhar 848
Ewes 825 Sibbaldbie -- see Applegarth 813a
Glencairn 826 Staplegortoun -- see Langholm 839
Graitney (or Gretna) 827 Tinwald 849
Halfmorton 828 Torthorwald 850
Hoddam 829 Tundergarth 851
Holywood 830 Tynron 852
Hutton (and Corrie) 831 Wamphray 853a
Johnstone 832 Wanlockhead 853b
Keir  833 Westerkirk 854

Census Records

A census is a count and description of the population, taken by the government, arranged by locality and by household. In 1841, the British government began taking censuses of the population of Scotland every ten years, listing all persons by name.  The census records must be 100 years old before they are released to the public, so the 1841 through 1901 are currently available.  Read more about Scotland Census Records.

Most available census records have been indexed by surname. Indexes are online at these Web sites:

The Family History Library has county-wide census indexes for Dumfries for 1851 and 1881.

Census surname indexes for different places within Dumfriesshire at the library may be seen by clicking here.

Census Substitutes

Census substitutes are lists of people at a given time which either substitute for a missing census record or which pre-date government census records. They come in a variety of forms. 

List of Examinable Persons

This list for the parish of Applegarth was compiled about 1697 and appears to include everyone over the age of 12.  Furthermore, the original list is marked with lines to separate households. So it makes a good early census of the parish, with 612 individuals listed, and it includes property or village names.

FHL book 941.48/A2 K2mg.


Courtesy of the National Library of Scotland, Post Office Directories are avilable online. The directory available for Dumfries and and district is:

1911-12: This are available in either PDF format or viewable online.

Civil Registration Records

Government or civil registration of births, marriages, and deaths (also called statutory records) began on January 1, 1855 in Scotland. Annual indexes are available for the whole country. See the article on Scotland Civil Registration for more information and to access the records.

Court Records

The county of Dumfries is in the Sheriff's court of Dumfries (SC15). The Registers of Deeds for Sheriffs' courts contain much valuable information for family history research such as marriage contracts and deeds of 'disposal and settlement' (or assignment) of property, which both give names and relationships. The records are deposited at the National Archives of Scotland in Edinburgh and are not indexed.


Galloway refers to Kirkcudbrightshire, Wigtownshire, and Dumfrieshire. The history of the region is often combined into single volumes.

Probate Records

Probate records are those which deal with the settlement of the estate of a deceased person.  In Scotland, until 1868, a person could only pass movable property such as household furniture, farm equipment, livestock, money and clothes through a document known as a 'testament.' Immovable property such as land was passed to the eldest son or heir through a document known as a 'Service of Heir,' which is not a record of probate. Read more about Scotland Probate Records.

Until 1823, the parishes of Dumfriesshire were under the probate jurisdiction of the Commissariot Court of Dumfries (CC5). Since 1823, the county has been under the jurisdiction of the Sheriff's Court of Dumfries (SC15).

Probate records for 1513-1901 (including inventories of goods) are indexed online at www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk. 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' of Dumfries (county) and the subject of 'Probate records.' Then click on the link to the 'Testaments registers.'


Click on the map to see a larger version.  Click again on the larger map, then click on the 'Expand' button when it appears in the bottom right-hand corner of the map.
Dumfries, c. 1845.jpg

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

Poorhouse Records

Dunbarton Combinationwww.workhouses.org.uk/Dumbarton/

[Return to county list.]