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Kilchoman, Argyllshire, Scotland Genealogy

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Parish #540

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

History[edit | edit source]

KILCHOMAN, a parish, in the Islay district of the county of Argyll, 12 miles (W. by S.) from Bowmore. This place, which is situated at the south-western extremity of the island of Islay, is supposed to have derived its name from a church founded here by St. Chomanus, who was sent by St. Columba from the monastery of Iona, to convert the inhabitants to Christianity. The parish church, erected in 1825, is a handsome structure containing 700 sittings. A church has been built at Portnahaven. There is a place of worship for members of the Free Church; and at Port Charlotte is one for Independents.[1]

     This parish  obtained its name for the burying place of Chomanus  who is supposed to have come from the monastery of Iona to establish the Gospel in Islay.   Port Charlotee, and Port Wymiss are the nearest towns.  This area was long in the hands of the Danes and Norwegians.  The major land owners were: Walter F. Campbell of Islay, M. P.; Walter Campbell of Sunderland; and Colin Campbell of Balinaby.  The land was primarily used for, stone quarry, potatoes, cattle, sheep, hay, peas, beans, oats, barley, fishing cod, and flax  The population in 1801 was 2050.  The population in1841 was 4505. The registers have been kept only since 1822.  In favorable weather attendance is considerable at the Established Church. An Independent Chapel at Port-Charlotte, but only 10 Families of Dissenters attend.
This account was written in 1844.

source:New Statistical Account of Scotland (FHL book 941 B4sa, series 2 vol. 7) 


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 Kilchoman. Also available at the Family History Library.

Census Records[edit | edit source]

A census 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 Kilchoman as well as the library numbers for any surname indexes available:


Years Family History Library Film Number Surname Index           
1841 1042719
1851 1042355 941.39 X2a
1861 103798
1871 103955
1881 203561 6086508 (set of 4 Fiche)
1891 220173

 The 1901 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 Family Hibrary Library Film Number
Births: 1821-1854 1041079 item 3
1831-1854-Portnahaven 1041080 item 6
Marriages: 1821-1854 1041079 item 3
1833-1854-Portnahaven 1041080 item 6
Deaths: No entries

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.
Note: No records appear to have been kept prior to 1821. There was a quoad sacra parish at Portnahaven and the minister there was known to baptize and marry without having the names of the parties entered in the parish register.
Source: Key to the Parochial Registers of Scotland, by V. Ben Bloxham, pub. 1970. British book 941 K23b.

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

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:

No records are available.

Nonconformist Church Records[edit | edit source]

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.


Kilchoman Free Church[edit | edit source]

Alexander Cameron, minister of the parish, left the Established Church in 1843. A new church was soon erected. The manse was built in 1847. The parish is large and the population sparse. The gradual decline of population adversely affected the congregation.
Membership: 1848, 52; 1900, 71.
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.

Portnahaven Free Church[edit | edit source]

After some hesitation the minister of the parish remained in the Established Church in 1843. However, all the elders and many members of the parish left the Established Church in July, and a congregation was formed. A school and teacher's house were erected in 1849. The congregation had the status of a station under Kilchoman. Under Dr. MacLachlan's plan an endowment of £1000 was accumulated before 1875 after which the school and teacher's house were then renovated and enlarged and became the church and manse. A new manse was erected in 1892 and the church was repaired in 1893.
Membership: 1876, 123; 1900, 69.
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.

Independents[edit | edit source]

The Statistical Account of Scotland, for Kilchoman for 1839, states that there was an Independent chapel at Port Charlotte, with about ten dissenter families in the parish. No history is available and the extent of any records is unknown.

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.

Probate Records[edit | edit source]

Kilchoman 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- 1901 are indexed online at  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 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.'

Read more about Scotland Probate Records.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Lewis, Samuel A., A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland (1846), pp. 499-514. Adapted. Date accessed: 23 May 2014.

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