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Douglas (#641)

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



DOUGLAS, a market-town and parish, in the Upper ward of the county of Lanark including the village of Uddington, 5 miles (S. S. E.) from Crawfordjohn, and 40½ (S. W. by S.) from Edinburgh. This place derives its name from the ancient and renowned family of Douglas. The Parish is situated near the south-western extremity of the county. The present church, a comparatively modern building, is not sufficiently spacious for the accommodation of the parishioners: underneath it is a vault in which are deposited the remains of numerous members of the Douglas family.[1]

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 Douglas.  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.

Click here for a list of the Family History Library microfilm numbers for the census records of Douglas.

Below is information for any known surname indexes:

Years Surname Index          
1851 CD-ROM no. 1850
1861 6205854
1881 6086616 ( 41 fiche)

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 with their Family History Library call numbers.

Established Church—Old Parochial Registers

Event Years Covered FHL Film Number
Births: 1691-1749 1066588 item 6
1749-1854 1066589
Marriages: 1698-1709, 1718-1719 1066589
1786-1854 1066589
Deaths: 1790-1792 0102903 in vault
1833--1854 1066589

Condition of Original Registers—

Indexed: 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 the International Genealogical Index. 
Births: A portion of a page at 1698 is cut off. The entries for April 1767–December 1770 are twice recorded. Families occasionally recorded together. Mothers’ names are not recorded until 1696.
Marriages: There are no entries 1709–1718 and July 1719–June 1786, from which date until June 1816 the record is one of proclamations only.
Deaths: There are no entries June 1792–1833.
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 1692–1894
Letter Book 1815–1846
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/953.

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.

Douglas United Presbyterian Church

A praying society in the parish of Douglas acceded to the Associate Presbytery in 1741. The members were subsequently included in the congregation of Cambusnethan, eighteen miles away. Thirty–six years later there were only seven seceders in the whole parish of Douglas, all of them belonging to the General Associate, Antiburgher, congregation of Hamilton, twenty miles away. In time the cause became extinct. In 1815 a Seceder minister preached in the parish. In 1816, a few persons resident in Douglas applied to the Associate Burgher Presbytery of Lanark for supply of sermon which was supplied occasionally. In 1817 the persons were formed into a regularly organized congregation. A church was built that year. The first minister was ordained in August 1820, just before the union of the two great branches of the Secession in September.
Source: Annals and Statistics of the United Presbyterian Church, by Rev. William MacKelvie, D.D., pub. 1873. Family History Library Film #477618. More details may be given in the source including a list of ministers.

The extent of records is unknown.

Douglas Free Church

Services were provided at Douglas immediately after the Disruption. The church was erected in 1845. In that year the charge was sanctioned. Subsequently a manse was built.
Membership: 1848, 230; 1900, 197.
Source: Annals of the Free Church of Scotland, 1843–1900, ed. Rev. William Ewing, D.D., 2 vols. pub. 1914. Family Hhistory Library Film #918572. More details may be given in the source including a list of ministers.

Session Minutes 1847–1899
Deacons’ Court Minutes 1847–1904
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH3/420.

Douglas Water Reformed, later Free Presbyterian Church

Douglas Water, at first known as Riggside, was one of the earliest centers of the Reformed Church. A church was erected about 1763. In 1807 the congregation split into two, one at Douglas Water and one at Penpont. A new church building was erected in 1844. By 1873, there were 96 members and 68 adherents who signed the call of a new minister. This congregation split on the question of the Union in 1876. The majority joined the Free Church, but the minority retained the buildings on the Lesmahagow side of Douglas Water. They ultimately joined the Established Church.
Membership: 1877, 103; 1900, 141.
Source: Annals of the Free Church of Scotland, 1843–1900, ed. Rev. William Ewing, D.D., 2 vols. pub. 1914. Family History Library Film #918572. Also: The Reformed Presbyterian Church in Scotland, by W.J. Couper, pub. 1925. Family History Library Book 941 K2c. More details are given in the sources including a list of ministers.

The extent of records is unknown.

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

Douglas was under the probate jurisdiction of the Commissary Court of Lanark until 1823, and since then has been under the Sheriff's Court of Glasgow.  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 Lanark and the subject of 'Probate records.' Then click on the link to the records of the Commissariat of Lanark.

The library also has some post-1823 probate records for Lanark.  Look in the library catalog for the 'Place-names' of Larnark and the subjects of 'Probate Records' and 'Probate Records - Indexes.'

Read more about Scotland Probate Records.


  1. Lewis, Samuel A., A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland (1846), pp. 280-297. Adapted. Date accessed: 28 February 2014.

Return to the Lanarkshire parish list.


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  • This page was last modified on 4 February 2015, at 18:46.
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