Kelton, Kirkcudbrightshire, Scotland GenealogyEdit This Page

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Kelton #869

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



KELTON, a parish, in the stewartry of Kirkcudbright; including the villages of Rhonehouse and Gelston and Castle-Douglas, 10 miles (N. E. by E.) from Kirkcudbright. This parish derives its name, of Celtic origin, from the extensive woods formerly in its vicinity; and is bounded on the west by the river Dee. The present church, a plain substantial structure with a campanile turret, was erected on a more eligible site than that of the old edifice, in 1806, and has since been enlarged by the addition of galleries. There are places of worship for members of the Free Church, Reformed Presbyterians, and the Relief.[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 Kelton. 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 Kelton as well as the library numbers for any surname indexes available:

Years Family History Library Film Number Surname Index       
1841 1042844 941.49 X22 vol15
1851 1042552
1861 103842
1871 104007
1881 224057 6086610 ( 2 fiche)
1891 220454

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: 1717-1854 1067975
Marriages: 1717-1803, 1839-1849 1067975
Deaths: 1851-1852 1067975

Condition of Original Records—

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 recoreds may be indexed in the
Births: Births are intermixed with marriages until 1726. There are no entries May 1727–March 1763, but at that part there are eleven irregular entries, dated 1754–1774. Records are irregular and defective 1763–1781 and 1783–1791. After May 1802 four pages of irregular entries 1782–1815 and six entries, 1788–1803 after the record for 1808. Records are irregular from 1808 on.
Marriages: There are no entries November 1726–June 1782 and August 1783–June 1797, except two entries 1787 and one 1790 and one 1796. There are no entries February 1799–August 1803 and October 1803–December 1841 except one for 1839 and the record ends 1849.
Deaths: There is no record before June 1851nor after May 1852.
Source: Key to the Parochial Registers of Scotland, by V. Ben Bloxham, pub. 1970. Family History Library 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 1715–1727, 1762–1794, 1803, 1821–1824, 1830–1831, 1834–1837, 1839–1890.
Collections 1782–1783, 1786–1789
Accounts 1812–1821
Summary Accounts 1822–1833
Cash Book 1837–1895
Parochial Visitation Book 1826–1838
Papers Relating to Gallery in Church 1821–1873
Papers Relating to Stipend, 1833–1903
Papers Relating to School at Castle Douglas 1790–1823
Miscellaneous Papers 1804–1880
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/203.

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.

General Statement:
The Statistical Account of the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright 1844, states that there were within the parish 160 members of the Reformed Church and 112 members of the Relief Church who attended church at Castle Douglas. There were also 35 members of the United Associate church who attended at Urr and 148 Roman Catholics who attended at Dalbeattie. Family History Library British Book 941 B4sa, Ser. 2, vol. 4 pt. 2.

Macmillan Free Church, originally Reformed Presbyterian

A Reformed church congregation was formed in 1807 which was first known as Water of Urr, and its centers were at Dalbeattie, Springholm, and Castle–Douglas. First one and then the other of these places dropped out until Castle–Douglas was alone left. After some difficulty, a minister was ordained in 1818. The church building was purchased from the Relief body in 1820. It was several times altered and improved. It is the “Kirk on the Hill" of Mr. Crockett, the novelist, who was brought up in the congregation. This Reformed church congregation joined the Free Church in 1876, along with their minister, Mr. Laurie. As a Reformed Presbyterian congregation it long drew its members from a wide district including twelve parishes. As a Free Church it increased with the growth of the town.
Membership: 1859, 210; 1877, 224; 1900, 300.
Source: Annals of the Free Church of Scotland, 1843–1900, ed. Rev. William Ewing, D.D., pub. 1914. Film # 918572. Also, The Reformed Presbyterian Church in Scotland, by W. J. Couper, pub. 1925, Family History Library British Book 941 K2c

Extent of pre–1855 records is unknown.

Castle-Douglas Free Church

No minister in the surrounding parishes "came out" in 1843. The adherents of the Free Church in the town and district were formed into a congregation and organized by Mr. Kinnear of Torthorwald, and they called their first minister in November 1843. A church of the usual Disruption type was built on Cotton Street in 1844. In 1865 a new church was built on King Street. A mission was conducted in the village of Rhonehouse, in a hall given by John Cown of Dildawn.
Membership: 1848, 330; 1900, 248.
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 lists of ministers.
Extent of pre–1855 records is unknown.

The Castle-Douglas First Relief Church, extinct

Though Castle–Douglas be a town of considerable size and population, the parish church is situated nearly two miles distant from it. Many of the inhabitants found it inconvenient to travel so far every week and were therefore led in the year 1800 to apply to the General Assembly of the Established Church for permission to erect a chapel of ease in the town. This being denied, the applicants turned to another and succeeded in obtaining supply of sermon from the Relief Presbytery of Dumfries in September 1800. The church ceased by 1820 and its building was sold to the Reformed church congregation.
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 lists of ministers.

Extent of pre–1855 records is unknown.

The Castle-Douglas Second Relief Church

After the first congregation of Castle–Douglas became disorganized, several of its members applied to the Secession Presbytery of Dumfries for supply of sermon, which was granted. A church building was built. However, being prevented from occupying it, the congregation disbanded. Later a few persons in Castle–Douglas pressed the Dumfries Relief Presbytery to get that place included in the Presbytery's Home Missionary operations, which was done in 1833. A petition for supply of sermon followed, and in 1835 a congregation was organized. The Secession movement building was purchased and occupied. A new church was opened in 1870.
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 lists of ministers.

Extent of Pre–1855 records is unknown. No records are deposited at the National Archives of Scotland

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

Kelton was under the probate jurisdiction of the Commissary Court of Kirkcudbright until 1823, and since then has been under the Sheriff's Court of Kirkcudbright.  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 Kirkcudbright and the subject of 'Probate records.' Then click on the link to the records of the Commissariat of Kirkcudbright.
The library also has some post-1823 probate records for Kirkcudbright.  Look in the library catalog for the 'Place-names' of Kirkcudbright 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. 1-22. Adapted. Date accessed: 13 March 2014.

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  • This page was last modified on 29 June 2015, at 17:13.
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