Wigtownshire, Scotland Genealogy

From FamilySearch Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Wigtownshire Wiki Topics
Beginning Research
Record Types
Scotland Background
Local Research Resources


Guide to Wigtownshire (or Wigtonshire) County ancestry, family history and genealogy: birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, parish registers, and military records.

Wigtownshire (or Wigtonshire) County

History[edit | edit source]

Wigtownshire (or Wigtonshire) is a maritime county in the southwest of Scotland, bounded on the north by Ayrshire, on the east by the stewartry or county of Kirkcudbright and by Wigton Bay, and on the south and west by the Irish Sea. It is about 32 miles in length and 29 miles in extreme breadth, comprising an area of nearly 480 square miles or 305,000 acres.

The county, which forms the western portion of the ancient district of Galloway, appears to have derived its name from the situation of its chief town on an eminence whose base was washed by the sea. After the departure of the Romans, the province became part of the territories of the Northumbrian kings until the ninth century, when it fell into the power of the Picts who continued to exercise a kind of sovereign authority, even after the union of the two kingdoms by Kenneth II. But the original Celtic inhabitants retained their ancient customs and heroic character which caused them to be known as the "wild Scots of Galloway.

The county consists of 17 parishes. There are three royal burghs of Wigtown (the county town), Stranraer, and Whithorn; the burghs-of-barony of Newton-Stewart, Garliestown, Glenluce and Portpatrick, and several small ports and thriving villages.

The population in 1851 was 39,195.[1][2]

ScotlandsPeople: An Important Online Source[edit | edit source]

ScotlandsPeople is one of the largest online sources of original genealogical information. If you are researching UK genealogy, your Scottish ancestry or building your Scottish family tree, they have more than 100 million records to look through.

The comprehensive choice of Scottish records includes:

  • Statutory Registers
  • Old Parish Registers
  • Catholic Parish Registers
  • CPR Others
  • Census
  • Valuation Rolls
  • Soldiers’ Wills
  • Wills & Testaments
  • Coats of Arms

For more detail on record availability, see Guides. For the content guide to what records are on the site, see Guides A-Z. More information on the site, its contents, and instructions for using it can be found in the ScotlandsPeople Wiki article. Indexes may be searched for free, and there is a pay per view fee to see the digitized record.

Census[edit | edit source]

Many census records have been indexed by surname. Some indexes cover one parish (and will be listed in the Wiki on the parish page) and some indexes are for the county as a whole. The Family History Library has county-wide census placename indexes for Wigtownshire for 1881.  Click here for other census indexes available at the library.

Church Records[edit | edit source]

Civil Registration or Statutory Registers[edit | edit source]

For details on information found in statutory registers and other methods of searching them, see Scotland Civil Registration.

Refer to the ScotlandsPeople Wiki article.
Images and Indexes Available at ScotlandsPeople Website ($)
Births 1855-1910 ◊ScotlandsPeople Website has indexes to 2012.
Marriages 1855-1935
Deaths 1855-1960

Parishes[edit | edit source]

Some of the Wigtown-shire parish records are indexed in Wigtown, Scotland, Extracted Parish Records.
This database is a collection of historical parish registers from the county of Wigtown in the country of Scotland. The records in this collection can range in date from the early 1500s to the mid- to late-1800s. The records include baptisms/christenings, burials, marriages, tombstone inscriptions, obituaries, tax lists, wills, and other miscellaneous types of records. Also included are some records from non-conformist churches. You will find interesting phonetic spelling. Some of the records may be in Latin or even a Welsh or Scottish dialect. Due to the nature of the records and because the records were originally compiled by a third party, it is difficult to absolutely verify the completeness and validity of the data.

Here is a list of the historic parishes for the county of Wigtown.  Click on the parish name to see information about records. Click on this link for an outline map of the parishes of Wigtonshire.

Historic Parishes for the County of Wigtownshire
Parish No. Parish No.
Glasserton      885 Old Luce 894
Inch 886 Penninghame 895
Kirkcolm 887 Portpatrick 896
Kirkcowan 888 Sorbie  897
Kirkinner 889 Stoneykirk 898
Kirkmaiden 890 Stranraer 899
Leswalt 891 Whithorn 900
Mochrum 892 Wigtown 901
New Luce 893 Newton Stewart -- see Penninghame 895
Wigtownshire In the FamilySearch Catalogue
The Wigtownshire Page on GENUKI provides a comprehensive view of records and sources for the county.

Parish Records[edit | edit source]

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.

Court Records[edit | edit source]

The county of Wigton was in the Sheriff's court of Wigtown (SC19).  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.

Probate Records[edit | edit source]

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 Wigtownshire were under the probate jurisdiction of the Commissary Court of Wigtown (CC22).  Since 1823, the county has been under the jurisdiction of the Sheriff's Court of Wigtown (SC19).

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 Wigtown and the subject of 'Probate records.' Then click on the link to the 'Testaments registers.'

Maps[edit | edit source]

Poorhouse Records[edit | edit source]

NOTE: Workhouses in Scotland were commonly known as poorhouses. For more information on Scottish poorhouses, go to the Scotland Poor Law page.

There was one workhouse in this county:

A description with drawings and photos of the workhouse today along with databases of those living there from the 1881 Census are provided on the link above located on the site entitled The Workhouse: The story of an institution... which is owned and operated by Peter Higginbotham.

Societies[edit | edit source]

Scotland Dumfries and Galloway Family History Center
The Secretary
Family History Centre
9 Glasgow Street
Tel- 01387 24809

Scottish Genealogy Society
15 Victoria Terrace
Phone-0131 220 3677
Email enquiries@scotsgenealogy.com

Reference Material[edit | edit source]

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

Websites[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Samuel Lewis. Topographical Dictionary of Scotland, (London, England: S. Lewis and Co., 1846), 3 v.: 651, [FHL book 941 E5]. Digitized by FamilySearch International, FamilySearch.org, https://www.familysearch.org/search/catalog/216925 (accessed June 16, 2016).
  2. Samuel Lewis. "Wick - Woodside, North," in A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland, (London, 1846), 609-617. British History Online, http://www.british-history.ac.uk/topographical-dict/scotland/pp609-617 (accessed June 7, 2020).