Stair, Ayr, Scotland Genealogy

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Parish #614

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



Stair was first erected into a parish in 1673 for the accommodation of the noble family of Dalrymple of Stair, whose residence was a great distance from Ochiltree, their parish church. In 1709 several lands were disjoined from, and others untied to the parish.  Ayr and  Tarbolton are the nearest towns. The Stair family is so well known to history, as to render superfluous here any account of their eminence, civil, military, and literary, or of the influence (almost unparalleled in the history of any other family in Scotland), which they possessed during a long and most interesting period.  Sir William Miller, Bart. Of Barskimming; smith, Esq. of Drongan; John Hamilton, Esq.; the Earl of Stair; and  Mrs.Reid of Keyshill were the major land owners.  The land was primarily used for, horses, milk cows, cattle, sheep, oats, peas, barley, potatoes, turnips, and beans.  The population  in 1755 was 369 and in 1840 was 739.  The earliest parochial register is of date 1736; the early part not very correctly kept. A register of births and marriages has been kept since 1805, and one of deaths since 1815.  The number of families in the parish is 144, ten of which belong to the Associate Synod, two are Roman Catholics, the rest belong to the Established Church.

This account was written in the year 1841.

Source: New Statistical Account of Scotland (Family History Library book 941 B4sa, series 2)

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 Stair. Also available at the Family History Library.

Census Records

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

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

Years Family History Library Film Number Surname Index        
1841 1042739 CD-ROM no. 2524
1851 1042410
1861 103807
1871 103966
1881 203608 6086514 ( 10 fiche)
1891 220227

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

The Established Church of Scotland was Presbyterian. Read more about Scotland Church Records.

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

Established Church—Old Parochial Registers

Years Covered Family History Library Film Number
Births: 1736-1854 1041468 item 3-4
Marriages: 1805-1854 1041468 item 3-4
Deaths: 1815-1854 1041468 item 3-4

Condition of Original Registers—

Index: For an index to these records, see the Scottish Church Records Index on computer at the Family History Library and family history centers.  Some records may be indexed in FamilySearch Records.
Births: September 1803–July 1804 are irregular entries of eleven children dated 1790–1805.
Marriages: Proclamations only prior to December 1816. Fact of marriage is recorded after June 1817.
Deaths: One entry only for 1804, which is recorded on page 68 of the register of births.
Source: Key to the Parochial Registers of Scotland, by V. Ben Bloxham, pub. 1970 British book 941 K23b.

Established Church—Kirk Session Records

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:

Minutes 1805–1901
Proclamations 1855–1862
Certificates 1816–1831
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/815.

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 Lists.

Stair Free Church

This congregation was formed at the Disruption, and worshiped for three months in the open air on the farm of Burn, then at Schaw farm, and after that in a workshop at Bogside. The new church was opened in March 1844. The manse and a stable for the convenience of farmers driving to church were built in 1848. An iron hall for Sunday school, etc., was erected in 1897. In December 1843, Tarbolton was associated with Stair Congregation. It was disjoined in 1861. Owing to rural depopulation the membership declined until about 1885, when coal pits were opened in the neighborhood. It fell off again when these were closed.
Membership: 1848, 130; 1900, 146.
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 a list of ministers.

Minutes 1844–1923
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH3/775.

Civil Registration Records

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

Stair was under the probate jurisdiction of the Commissary Court of Stair until 1823, and since then has been under the Sheriff's Court of Ayr. 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 Ayr and the subject of 'Probate records.' Then click on the link to the records of the Commissariat of Glasgow.
The library also has some post-1823 probate records for Ayr. Look in the library catalog for the 'Place-names' of Ayr and the subjects of 'Probate Records' and 'Probate Records - Indexes.'
Read more about Scotland Probate Records.


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