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Greenock (#564)

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

 

Contents

History

GREENOCK, a sea-port, burgh, and market-town, in the Lower ward of the county of Renfrew, 17 miles (W. N. W.) from Renfrew, 22 (W. N. W.) from Glasgow, and 65 (W.) from Edinburgh; comprising the parishes of East, Middle, and West Greenock. This place is said by some to have derived its name, in the Gaelic language Grian-chnoc, from the site of its ancient baronial castle on a hill unsheltered by any intervening object from the rays of the sun. The town is beautifully situated on the south shore of the Frith of Clyde, which is here four and a half miles broad; and extends for almost a mile along the margin of the united bays of Greenock and Crawfurdsdyke. The old church, a cruciform structure built in 1590, being inconveniently situated, and greatly dilapidated, has been superseded by a new church built on a more commodious site. The Middle Kirk parish, created by the Court of Teinds, is about one-third of a mile in length, and a quarter of a mile in breadth, and wholly within the town. The church, erected in 1747 is a handsome structure in the Grecian style, with a portico of the Ionic order, and an elegant spire 145 feet in height. A chapel, also, has been recently erected by the Society for Propagating Christian Knowledge, for the use of the mariners frequenting the port. The parish of East Kirk was divided from the original parish, also by the Court of Teinds, in 1809; it is about three miles and a half in length and two and a half in breadth. The church, erected in 1774 was a chapel of ease. The late quoad sacra parish of North Kirk was separated from the parish of West Kirk by the General Assembly, in 1834, and was about half a mile in length, and less than a quarter of a mile in breadth. The church, at first a chapel of ease, was built in 1823. South Kirk quoad sacra parish comprised a small district within the town was built as a Gaelic chapel of ease, in 1791. The late quoad sacra parish of St. Andrew was also separated from the old parish. The church is a handsome structure in the later English style of architecture. The late parish of St. Thomas was separated in 1839, from the old parish and the Middle parish. Cartsdyke was separated from the East parish, in the year 1839, but has, like the four preceding districts, ceased to be a quoad sacra parish. There are places of worship for members of the Free Church, as well as for the United Secession, Baptists, the Relief, Independents, Reformed Presbyterians, and Wesleyans; and an episcopal, and a Roman Catholic chapel.[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 http://edina.ac.uk/stat-acc-scot/.  Click on ‘Browse scanned pages’ then search the parish reports for Greenock.  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 census records.

Click here[low quality link] for  a list of the Family History Library microfilm numbers for the census records of Greenock. Here are  the library numbers for any surname indexes available:

Years Surname Index           
1841


1851


CD-ROM no. 3817
1861
1871


1881


6086652 (set of 11 fiche)
1891





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 church records.

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

Established Church—Old Parochial Registers

West Parish

Event Type Years Covered Family History Library Film Number
Births: 1698-1792 1041062
1789-1833 1041063
1833-1854 1041064
Marriages: 1698-1819 1041063
1819-1846 1041064
1847-1854 1041065
Deaths: 1698-1756 1041062


Middle Parish

Event Type Years Covered Family History Library Film Number
Births: 1741-1819 1041059
1820-1854 1041060
Marriages: 1741-1819 1041059
1819-1854 1041060
Deaths: 1741-1774 1041059


East Parish

Event Type Years Covered Family History Library Film Number
Births: 1809-1854 1041060
Marriages: 1809-1819 1041060
1819-1855 1041061
Deaths: No entries


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 idexed in the International Genealogical Index. 

West Parish

Births: Previous to November 1711, the actual signatures of the witnesses to the baptisms are subjoined to the entries. The records are defective from June 1725–May 1727. Records prior to 1776, excluding 1762–1770, are only on the left hand pages of the register; the right hand pages up to 1747, when not blank, are occupied by entries of deaths, and afterwards by occasional entries of births. The record for October 1786–1807 is tabulated.
Marriages: Blank July 1725–May 1727, from which date until 1786, the record is almost always one of proclamations. Entries 1786–1807 are tabulated, but, excluding 1789–1794, the column for date of marriage is very often blank. After January 1813, the date of marriage is regularly recorded.
Deaths: Recorded on alternate pages of the register of births.


Middle Parish

Births: Prior to 1790, the regular record is chiefly confined to the left hand pages; the right hand pages, previous to 1752, being either blank or occupied by occasional entries of deaths, and afterwards by occasional entries of births.
Marriages: This record is titled “Register of Marriages” but excluding about 1749 and 1765–1768, the factor of marriage is almost never added to the entries of proclamation.
Deaths: Recorded on alternate pages of the register of births.


East Parish

Births: There is no separate register for this parish prior to March 1809.
Marriages: There is no separate record before September 1809.
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:

Greenock, New Middle Kirk

Minutes 1741–1771, 1798–1824
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, records CH2/872.


Greenock, West

Minutes 1843–1987
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, records CH2/1418.

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 List.

 

Cartsdyke Associate Burgher Secession Church - until 1799

History—
Members of the parishes of Greenock, Port Glasgow, and Innerkip acceded to the Associate Presbytery in April 1738 and became part of “The Correspondence of Kilmalcolm.” They met for public worship at Killochries until 1740 when they obtained occasional supply of sermon in their own area. They built a place of worship at Cartsdyke in 1745. All but ten members of the congregation adhered to the Associate Burgher Synod at AThe Breach@ in 1747. The minority formed the nucleus of the Second Secession Greenbank congregation, later known as George Square. In 1752, AThe Correspondence of Kilmalcolm@ was divided into two congregations. One met at Cartsdyke and the other at Burntshields. In 1799, the Cartsdyke congregation and its minister separated from the Associate Synod and, along with others, formed the Original Associate Synod.
(See the Well Park Free Church for a continuation of the history.)
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.

Records—
Extent of the records is unknown.


Greenbank Anti-burgher, Inverkip Street, George Square

History—
This congregation was formed by the party who separated from the Cartsdyke congregation at the Breach in 1747. The first minister served both Greenock and Paisley until they separated in 1759. Their first church was built on Market Street in 1759. The second church was built on Innverkip Street in 1803. A third church was built on George Square in 1846.
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.

Records—
Minutes 1753–1769, 1791–1875
Baptisms 1749–1759
Notes and Accounts of Money Borrowed and Collected to Build the Meeting House 1758–1779
General Committee Minutes 1845–1846
Treasurer’s Book 1830–1843
Baptismal Registers 1844–1874
Communion Roll 1831–1850
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, records CH3/812.


Nicolson Street Burgher, later Trinity United Presbyterian Church

History—
In 1791, the Secession Church in Cartsdyke was crowded every Sabbath and many of the members, thinking there was need and room for another Secession place of worship in the west end of the town, applied to the Associate Burgher Presbytery of Glasgow to be disjoined and formed into a separate congregation. After some negotiations and financial arrangements to compensate the Cartsdyke congregation, application was granted. A church was built on Nicolson Street the same year. A new church, called Trinity Church was built on Union Street in 1870–1801.
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.

Records—
Minutes 1829–1870
Notes: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, records CH3/659.



Union Street United Secession, later United Presbyterian Church

History—
This congregation was formed in 1833 by a minority of the Nicolson Street congregation opposed to the settlement of the minister preferred by the majority. They built a church the following year and obtained their own minister.
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.

Records—
                                                      Family History Library Film Number
Baptismal register       1844–1883     0889485 Item 7 X
Note: The X means the record has been extracted.
Other:
Various Minutes 1840–1861
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, records CH3/499.


Sir Michael Street Relief later United Presbyterian Church

History—
This congregation originated in a want of church accommodation in Greenock. Supply of sermon was afforded to the persons taking interest in the movement by the Relief Presbytery of Glasgow in September 1806. First church built in 1807. A new church, built on the site of the former, was opened in 1854.
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.

Records—                                Family History Library Film Number
Baptismal register     1839–1861     0889485 Item 8 X
Note: The X means the record has been extracted.
Other:
Managers’ Minutes 1806–1839
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, records CH3/500.



Greenock Middle Free Church

History—
James Smith, minister of the Middle parish, with a large congregation, “came out” in 1843. A new church, “the Brick Kirk,@ was opened in August of that year. It was sold and a new church erected in 1871. Mission work was begun in Star Hall, Broad Close, in 1856, and afterwards removed to the Arcade Mission Hall.
Membership: 1848, 400; 1900, 656.
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.

Records—
Extent of the records is unknown.


Well Park Free Church, formerly Cartsdyke Original Associate

History—
In 1799, the Cartsdyke Secession congregation and its minister separated from the Associate Burgher Synod and, along with others, formed the Original Associate Synod. They rejoined the established church in 1839, but withdrew at the Disruption in 1843 and adhered to the Free Church. In 1853, the church was purchased by the railway company, and a new church was built in the neighborhood of Well Park. The name was then changed from Cartsdyke to Well Park.
Membership: 1848, 540; 1900, 418.
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.

Records—
Extent of the records is unknown.


St. Andrews Free Church

History—
DR. J. J. Bonar, minister of St. Andrew’s Church extension charge, with his congregation, adhered to the Free Church at the Disruption in 1843. There being a debt on the church building, the creditors let it to the congregation; and finally, as the Established Church did not redeem it, sold it to them. Church was sold in 1881, and a new one erected in the western part of the town.
Membership: 1848, 415; 1900; 441.
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.

Records—
                                                    Family History Library Film Number
Baptismal Register    1844–1881     0889485 Item 2 X
Note: The X means the record has been extracted.
Other:
Minutes 1843–1862
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, records CH3/471.


St. Columba’s Gaelic Free Church

History—
Angus M=Bean, minister of the Gaelic ““quoad sacra”” church, and almost the entire congregation, “came out” in 1843. Deprived of their church in the end of June, they worshiped first in Duncan Street burying ground, then in the old West Church. Their new church was opened in September 1844. About sixty persons left in 1893 owing to the Declaratory Act. About twenty members and twenty adherents declined to enter the Union in 1900.
Membership: 1848, 400; 1900, 656.
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.

Records—
Minutes 1843–1868
Deacon’s Court minutes 1854–1869
Sustentation Fund Accounts 1850–1960
Communion Roll 1851–1861
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, records CH3/1157.


Greenock West Free Church

History—
Dr. Patrick M=Farlan, minister of the West Parish, and the majority of his congregation, “came out” in 1843. A church was built in Ardgowen Street in 1844. In 1862 this building was sold, and a new church erected on the opposite side of the street. The mission carried on by the congregation was formed into a charge in 1864, as the Free Church North.
Membership: 1848, 627; 1900, 597.
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.

Records—
Deacons’ Court Minutes 1844–1858
Minutes 1843–1855
Proclamation Register 1849–1877
Communion Roll 1850
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, records CH3/814.


St. Thomas’ Free Church

History—
Dr. William Laughton, minister of St. Thomas “quoad sacra” parish, and his congregation, “came out” in 1843. They continued to worship in the church, paying rent to the trustees who held it. In 1857 they purchased the church in West Blackhall Street.
Membership: 1848, 225; 1900, 372.
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.


Greenock Reformed, later Martyrs’ Free Presbyterian Church

History—
When the minister of the Kilmalcolm Reformed Church died in 1824, the members, resident in Greenock and neighborhood decided the time was right to ask for a disjunction in order to form their own congregation. The disjunction was granted the following year. In 1827, two elders were ordained, and a minister was finally ordained in September 1833. A church had been opened two days prior. The call for a new minister in 1860 was signed by 206 members and 51 adherents, but he declined. A call to a second candidate was signed by 161 members and 57 adherents. However, 103 members and 21 adherents, who did not favor the new minister or the method in which he was selected, petitioned for disjunction, which was granted, and they formed a second congregation. They built a church in 1861. The first congregation left the synod in 1863. The second congregation joined the Free Church in 1876.
Membership: 1877, 208; 1900, 214.
Source: The Reformed Presbyterian Church in Scotland, by W.J. Couper, pub. 1925. Family History Library 941 K2c. Source includes ministers.

Records—
Extent of the records is unknown.


Greenock Independent Congregational and Evangelical Churches

History—
The first church in Greenock owned its origin to the interest some in that town showed in the services held in the church at Inverkip. Similar services were begun in Greenock in 1804. A chapel was erected on Sir Michael Street and opened in 1805. The present building on George Square was opened in 1840. This church was active in Home Mission work. A Sunday school was begun in 1852. This church was still active in 1993. (For a more detailed history, see: FHL book 941.41/G1 K2g or FHL Film #1426081 item 6.)
Another church was formed in 1846 as an Evangelical Union preaching station and was constituted the following year. This congregation purchased the Sir Michael Street chapel in 1849 where they met until they moved to the new Nelson Street chapel in 1865. This church was still active in 1993.
Source: A History of Scottish Congregationalism, by Harry Escott, pub. 1960. Family History Library book 941 K2es.

Records—
Extent of the records is unknown. For information write to:
The United Reformed Church, Scottish Synod Office
PO Box 189
240 Cathedral Street
Glasgow G1 2BX
Scotland


Greenock Baptist Churches

History—
In the year 1806, seven persons met to form the first Baptist Church in Greenock. The numbers grew steadily and in 1819 the church felt justified in appointing a pastor. In 1821, a church building was opened for public worship in Westburn Street. In 1878, the church moved to a new building in Orangefield. Another church was formed in 1844 and met for worship in a building at the corner of Ardgowan and Nelson Streets, but it became extinct in 1865, its members uniting with the Orangefield church.
Source: History of the Baptists in Scotland, by Rev. George Yuille, pub. 1926. Family History Library book 941 K2hi.


Records—
Extent of the records is unknown. For information write to:
The Baptist Union of Scotland
12 Aytoun Road
Glasgow G41 5RT, Scotland


Greenock Wesleyan Methodist Church

History—
A preacher spoke in Greenock a number of times in the late 1760s. Sermons were given in both English and in Gaelic for the Highlanders. The Greenock society was founded about 1811. An old Episcopal chapel was used for worship until a new chapel was built and opened in 1814. In spite of periodic struggles, this society survived until fairly recent times.
Source: Methodism in Scotland, by Wesley F. Swift, pub. 1947. Family History Library book 941 K2sw.

Records—
Extent of records is unknown. For information write to:
Methodist Archives and Research Centre
John Rylands University Library of Manchester
150 Deansgate
Manchester M3 3EH
Scotland


Greenock Unitarian Church

History—
In 1830, when the Rev. Archibald Macdonald of the Church of Scotland, Greenock, identified himself with the Unitarian cause, a Society was formed with 30 members. The next year a building in Sir Michael Street was taken on lease and fitted up as a chapel. Rev. Macdonald became the first minister, and that year there was a regular attendance of 70 in the morning and 100 in the afternoon. The chapel, which seated 270, was crowded on Sabbath evenings. In 1840, a special series of lectures was held at which several ministers from other parts of Scotland participated, but the congregation seems to have expired shortly afterwards.
Source:Unitarianism in Scotland,” by Archibald MacWhirter, in Records of the Scottish Church History Society, Vol. XIII, Part II, 1958. Family History Library book 941 B2ch. Source includes names of ministers.


Records—
Extent of the records is unknown. For more information write to:
Scottish Unitarian Association
Mrs E. Shepherd, Secretary
74 Craigie Drive
Dundee DD4 7PB
Scotland
Tel: 01382 455588


Greenock Episcopal Church

History—
A chapel was built in 1824 in Union Street.

Records—
Christenings and Marriages 1824–1854
Burials 1840–1854
Note: For availability, write to the minister at:
St. John’s Rectory
24 Forsyth Street
Greenock PA16 8DT
Scotland


Greenock Roman Catholic Church

History—
A congregation was established about 1808 and the chapel was built on West Shaw Street in 1814. It was consecrated as St. Mary’s in 1816.

Records—
Baptisms 1808–1837
Marriages 1808–1818, 1845–1904
Note: Available online for a fee, at www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk, record RH21/6. Later records, including deaths from 1808, are in the hands of the parish priest.


Greenock Branch, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

Records—                                     Family History Library Film Number
Record of Members     1840–1864     0104152 item 7

Other Churches

In 1840, other churches in Greenock included a small congregation of Universalists and a small congregation of members of the Holy Apostolic Church or Irvingites.
Source: The New Statistical Account of Renfrewshire, Fmily History Library book 941 B4sa, vol. 7, pt. 1; Family History Library Film #962194 and Fiche #6026391.

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.

Directories

Courtesy of the National Library of Scotland, Post Office Directories are avilable online. The directories available for Greenock are:

1805-1912: These are available in either PDF format or viewable online. (Some years are missing)

Probate Records

 
Greenock was under the probate jurisdiction of the Commissary Court of Glasgow until 1823, and since then has been under the Sheriff's Court of Paisley.  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 Renfrew 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 Renfrew.  Look in the library catalog for the 'Place-names' of Renfrew and the subjects of 'Probate Records' and 'Probate Records - Indexes.'

Read more about Scotland Probate Records.

References

  1. Lewis, Samuel A., A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland (1846), pp. 514-527. Adapted. Date accessed: 21 February 2014.

[Return to the Renfrewshire parish list.]


 

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