West Kilbride, Ayr, Scotland Genealogy

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Parish #620

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



     Portincross and Dalry were the nearest towns.  The name is derived from St. Bryde, a virgin of great celebrity in the Scotch Kalendar, to whom the church was dedicated.   There is seven miles of coast.  The major land owners were: Lady Mary Montgomery Lamb; John Crawford of Auchnames; and Mrs. Hunter of Hunterston.  The land was primarily used for, potatoes, turnips, carrot, wheat, oats, barley, peas, barley, horses, cows, and sheep.
     The population in 1793 was 698, and in 1831 was 1684.  The registers have been kept regularly from1691 and are very complete and in good condition.  About 250 families attend the Established Church with 515 communicants.
The United Associated Synod has a usual attendance of 150.

This account was written in 1837.
source: New Statistical Account of Scotland (Family History Library book 941 B4sa, series 2 vol. 5


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 http://edina.ac.uk/stat-acc-scot/.  Click on ‘Browse scanned pages’ then search the parish reports for West Kilbride. 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 West Kilbride 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 1042412
1861 103807
1871 103966
1881 203610 6086514 (10 fiche)
1891 220229

The 1901 census of Scotland is indexed on www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk.  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 LibraryFilm Number
Births: 1691-1854 1041473
Marriages: 1716-1854 1041473
Deaths: 1783-1794 1041473

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:Entries up to August 1715 are a copy. Mothers' names are not recorded between September 1699 and April 1702. There are no entries December 1706–December 1707 or August 1715–July 1716. Entries are frequently out of the order of time after 1807.
Marriages: There are no entries November 1754–June 1761.
Deaths: Deaths are intermixed with entries of names of persons who were married and who had children baptized. The record is limited to the time when the tax of three pence was applied for each entry of births, marriages, and deaths.
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:

Accounts 1834–1845
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/874.

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.

West Kilbride United Presbyterian Church

This congregation originated with members of the Secession and Relief Churches in Saltcoats, they obtained supply of sermon from the United Associate Presbytery of Kilmarnock, November 1821. They took possession of a place of worship they had built in 1828.
Source:Annals and Statistics of the United Presbyterian Church, by Rev. William MacKelvie, D.D., pub. 1873. Film #477618. More details may be given in the source, including a list of ministers.

Minutes 1828–1836, 1848–1901
Communion Roll 1828
Ledger 1847–1900
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH3/1035.

West Kilbride Free Church

Thomas Findlay, minister of the parish, and a considerable part of his congregation, "came out" at the Disruption. At first they worshiped in a hall, and their own church was built and opened in December 1843. The manse was erected in 1846. A new church was built on another site in 1881.
Membership: 1848, 100; 1900, 256.
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.

Deacons' Court Minutes 1846–1934
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH3/845.

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

West Kilbride was under the probate jurisdiction of the Commissary Court of Glasgow until 1823, and since then has been under the Sheriff's Court of Ayr.  Probate records for 1513- 1901 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-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.

Return to the Ayrshire Parish List