Kirkcudbrightshire, Scotland Genealogy Genealogy

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Scotland Gotoarrow.png Kirkcudbrightshire


The Stewartry of Kirkcudbright is a county in the south of Scotland, bounded on the north and north-east by the Dumfriesshire, on the north and north-west by the county of Ayr, on the south and south-east by the Solvay Firth, and on the south-west by the [Wigtonshire,_Scotland|Wigtonshire,_Scotland county and bay of Wigtown.]] It is 48 miles in length, from east to west, and thirty miles in extreme breadth, comprising an acrea of about 882 square miles or 564,480 acres.
This district, which from its ancient tenure is called a stewartry, though for all purposes a county, occupies the eastern portion of the ancient province of Galloway.... The stewartry of Kirkcudbright was for some time included in the county of Dumfries and was under the jurisdiction of the same sheriff, but this ended prior to the time of Charles I, and since then it has formed a distinct and independent county, though still referred to as a stewartry...[1]


It contains 28 parishes. Kirkcudbright is the chief town and is a royal burgh, along with New Galloway. The county contains four other towns and some small hamlets. About one-third of the land is arable and the remainder is principally mountain pasture, moorland, and waste. The surface if strikingly varied and towards the coast is diversified with numerous rocky hills. Other parts are mountainous, intersected with valleys of great fertility in a high state of cultivation. Oats, barley, wheat, potatoes, turnips, and other crops are raised. Cattle are pastured and sheep are fed on the moorlands. Great numbers of swine are also reared, and the horses are much esteemed.
The minerals are of no significance, and coal is scarce and brought from Cumberland. The manufacture of linen, cotton, and woolen goods is carried on to a considerable extent in the towns and villages. The principal trade is the export of cattle, sheep, and grain. Salmon-fisheries at the mouths of the various rivers are highly productive...[2]

Historic Parishes for the County of Kirkcudbright
Parish No. Parish No.
Anwoth 855 Kirkcudbright 871
Balmaclellan 856 Kirkgunzeon 872
Balmaghie 857 Kirkmabreck 873
Kirkpatrick-Durham 874
Borgue 858 Lochrutton 875
Buittle 859 Maxwelltown - town in Troqueer 882
Carsphairn 860 Minnigaff 876
Colvend and Southwick 861 New Abbey 877
Parton 878
Crossmichael 863 Rerrick 879
Dalbeattie - town in Urr Parish 864 Southwick -- see Colvend 861
Dalry 865 Terregles 880
Girthon 866 Tongland 881
Irongray 867 Troqueer 882
Kells 868 Twynholm 883
Kelton 869 Urr 884
Kirkbean 870
Kirkcudbrightshire In the Family History Library Catalogue
The Kirkcudbrightshire Page on GENUKI provides a comprehensive view of records and sources for the county.

Census, Civil Registration, and Parish Records

Virtually everyone can be found in census and civil registration records and many in the parish registers. ScotlandsPeople website provides indexes and images to all of the census records, civil registration, and pre 1855 Church of Scotland parish registers for Kirkcudbrightshire.
Microfilmed records can be accessed at Family History Centers  around the world. There is an advantage to using the microfilm for the Census and Parish records. While ScotlandsPeople website has an index of the records it costs over £1 to view each individual page.

Census Records

The Scotland Census Records Article provides and indepth view of Scottish Census Records. The 1841, 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901, 1911 census records are available for every parish in the County. The 1901 and 1911 census records can only be accessed at ScotlandsPeople website. The 1841 to 1891 census records are on microfilm. Refer to the Parish Pages for film numbers.
There is statistical data available for the census years 1801 to 1931 that records the number of houses, families, people, and other statistical data for every parish in Kirkcudbrightshire. Refer to the Histpop - Online Historical Population Reports wiki article.


  • FREECEN has indexed 65% of the 1841 Kirkcudbrightshire census
  • The 1841 has been indexed by the Dumfries & Galloway Family History Society
  • The 1881 has been indexed by the Dumfries & Galloway Family History Society
  • provides transcription and index for 1841 to 1891 census
  • provides enhanced transcript of 1841 to 1901 census

The Family History Library has county-wide census indexes for Kirkcudbrightshire for 1841 and 1881.  

The library also has a collection of census surname indexes for different places within Kirkcudbrightshire. Click here to see a table listing these other census surname indexes that are available at the library.

Civil Registration Records

Refer to the Scotland Civil Registration Article
Images and Indexes Available at ScotlandsPeople Website
Births 1855-1910 ◊ScotlandsPeople Website has indexes to 2009
Marriages 1855-1935
Deaths 1855-1960
◊annual indexes available on microfilm
◊The 1855 to 1875, 1881, 1891 images of births, marriages, and deaths have been microfilmed.
◊Most of the 1855 to 1875 Births and Marriages are indexed at FamilySearch. See Batch Numbers

Parish Records

The Scotland Church Records Article and the Scotland Established (Presbyterian) Church Records Article provides and indepth view of Church Records.
The ScotlandsPeople website provides an index and images of Church of Scotland parish registers. FamilySearch provides a searchable index and access to microfilm copies of the registers through Family History Centers. Refer to the Parish Pages for film and or batch numbers.
"The condition of the Church of Scotland parish registers in Kirkcudbrightshire was recorded in the New Statistical Account. In 1849 William Turnbull published a book which extracted from the New Statistical Account remarks by the ministers about their individual registers. For the most part the ministers describe their registers as imperfect, defective, and not voluminous."

Nonconformist Church Records

A nonconformist church is any church that is not the Church of Scotland.

  • Catholic records on the ScotlandsPeople website
    • Munches (Buittle Parish) 1745 to 1815
    • Dalbeattie 1786 to 1991
    • Dumfries 1815 to 1972
    • Newton Stewart 1825 to 1915 in Penninghame Parish, Wigtonshire
    • Dalry 1848 to 2006
  • Refer to the Parish Pages for other known denominations and the records that are available at the National Archives of Scotland.

Court, Probate, Land, Military and Other records

Unlike census, civil registration, and Church of Scotland Parish Records, less then 20% of the people appear in these record classes with few exceptions.

Court Records

The county of Kircudbright was in the Sheriff's court of Kirkcudbright (SC16). 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.

Military Records 1802 to 1808

There is a collection of ballot lists for 1802 and militia volunteer list for 1808 for most of the parishes in the County.  They can be found at  the National Archives of Scotland. The militia lists for the parish of Urr is online

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 Kirkcudbrightshire were under the probate jurisdiction of either the Commissariot Court of Dumfries (CC5), the Commissariot Court of Kirkcudbright (CC13), or the Commissariot Court of Wigtown (CC22). For a break-down by parish, click on the parish links above. Since 1823, the county has been under the jurisdiction of the Sheriff's Court of Kirkcudbright (SC16).

Probate records for 1513-1901 (including inventories of goods) 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' of Kirkcudbright (county) and the subject of 'Probate records.' Then click on the link to the 'Testaments registers.'

Poorhouse Records

Reference Material

Statistical Accounts of Scotland

The accounts written by the ministers of each parish offers uniquely rich and detailed parish reports for each parish in Scotland, covering a vast range of topics including history, agriculture, education, trades, religion and social customs.


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


Kirkcudbright, c. 1845.jpg
Click on the map at the right to see a larger version, and click again on the larger map. Next, click on the ‘Expand’ button when it appears in the lower right-hand corner of the map. Map dated about 1845

Outline map of the parishes of Kirkcudbrightshire.


Gordon, Haig. The Kirkcudbrightshire Companion. Kirkcudbright: Galloway Publishing. 2008. 2 sections: Places - 1-9 pages on each community within shire, describing history, key features and people; Themes and Personalities. Indexed. (218 pp)


  1. Samuel Lewis' Topographical Dictionary of Scotland, 2nd ed., 1851.  Family History Library book 941 E5L
  2. Samuel Lewis' Topographical Dictionary of Scotland, 2nd ed., 1851.  Family History Library book 941 E5L