Avondale, Lanarkshire, Scotland Genealogy

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Scotland Gotoarrow.png Lanarkshire Gotoarrow.png Avondale

Avondale (#621)

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


AVONDALE, a parish, in the Middle ward of the county of Lanark; containing the market-town of Strathaven. The proper name of this parish, which, from its including the market-town, has been called sometimes Strathaven, and, by contraction, Straven, is Avondale, an appellation derived from its situation on the river Avon, by which it is divided into two nearly equal parts. The church, erected in 1772, is a plain edifice, with an unfinished spire, and much too small for the population, being adapted for a congregation only of 800 persons. Under the auspices of the present minister, an additional church has been erected to which a district called East Strathaven has been assigned, and which is supplied by a minister appointed by the congregation. There is a place of worship for members of the Associate Seceding Synod, and there are two for members of the Relief Church.[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 Avondale.  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 (FHL) microfilm numbers for the census records of Avondale.

Below is information for any known surname indexes:

Years Surname Index        
1841 Ancestry.com ($)
1851 FHL CD-ROM no. 1850
1861 FHL 6205845
1871 Ancestry.com ($)
1881 FHL 6086616 ( 41 fiche)
1891 Ancestry.com ($)
1901 Ancestry.com ($)

All available censuses, 1841-1901, are indexed on www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk, with images of the census its self. To use it, you must register and pay a small access fee.  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 number.

Established Church—Old Parochial Registers

Event Years Covered FHL Film Number
Births: 1698-1854 1041474
Marriages: 1700-1854 1041074
Deaths: No entries
Condition of Original Registers

Indexed: For an index to these records, see Scotland’s People website, a pay-for-view website. The Scottish Church Records Index is also still available at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.  Some records may be indexed in the International Genealogical Index. 
Births: The regular record commences December 1698, but the preceding page contains twelve irregular entries of one family, 1681–1705, and fifteen similar entries, two families, 1713–1736. The lower portion of the page at March 1765 is cut off. A page containing irregular entries, 1755–1775, is recorded after February 1768. Four pages containing irregular entries for 1757–1802 are after December 1784. Mother’s names are not recorded until 1785 and are often omitted until 1796.
Marriages: There are no marriage entries November 1739–April 1753. The record ends June 1757, but there is a separate record of proclamations, beginning February 1723 of which there are no omissions of dates.
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 1660–1701, 1734–1757, 1779–1916
Proclamation Register 1775–1911
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/930.

Strathaven East Mission Chapel

Proclamation Register 1820–1851
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/1495.

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.

Strathaven Free Church

The minister of the quoad sacra church here, with most of his congregation, “came out” in 1843. In July following they were deprived of their church and were accommodated for a time in the West Relief Church. The new church was opened in 1844. A school was opened in 1856 which was transferred to the School Board in 1881. A new church was built in 1884. The population of the parish decreased considerably.
Membership: 1848, 300; 1900, 251.
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. More details may be given in the source including a list of ministers.

Various Minutes 1843–1916
Note: Available at National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH3/999.

Strathaven First United Presbyterian Church

A praying society in the parish of Avondale acceded to the Associate Presbytery in December 1738. A junction was formed between this society and others of the same kind in the parishes of Bothwell, Glassford, East Kilbride, and Hamilton. In September 1739, they were publicly recognized as a congregation in connection with the Associate Presbytery. The seat of the congregation was a Chattenhill in the parish of East Kilbride. Eventually the congregation was drawn from sixteen different parishes. Due to the great distances the minister had to travel, in 1764, the Presbytery agreed that the congregation should be divided into two parts, one to the west with its seat in Hamilton and the other to the east with its seat in Strathaven. The latter was designated as the United Congregation of Strathaven, Kilbride, and Lesmahagow. A place of worship was built in Strathaven. A second church was built in 1820. In 1835, the usual attendance was 350.
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.

Various Minutes 1767–1907
Baptismal Register 1852–1907
Note: Available at National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH3/289.

Strathaven East Relief Church

The Relief Church in Strathaven originated chiefly in consequence of several violent settlements which took place in some of the neighboring parishes. About 1766 the parish of Eaglesham had a new minister settled who was found objectionable by many of the parishioners. Another similar unpopular settlement took place in the parish of Shotts. The parish church of Avondale was rebuilt in 1772 and the heritors did not allow enough general seating, which angered many of the parishioners who withdrew as a consequence. In 1776, the settlement of an unpopular minister in Hamilton caused many of the parishioners there to withdraw and build a Relief Church in that town. The minister of Avondale had been involved with the confirmation of the new minister at Hamilton, and many of his parishioners were so unhappy with his actions, and generally unhappy with the Established Church after all of the unpopular settlements, that they withdrew and connected themselves with the Relief Synod. A place of worship was erected at Strathaven. They petitioned the Relief Presbytery of Glasgow for supply of sermon which was granted in January 1777 and they were organized into a congregation in March. In 1835, the usual attendance was about 1000.
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.

Strathaven West Church

By 1835 the East Church of Strathaven was full to overflowing so a number of members built a second church which was recognized by the Relief Presbytery of Glasgow that year.
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.

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

Avondale was under the probate jurisdiction of the Commissary Court of Glasgow until 1823, and since then has been under the Sheriff's Court of Glasgow. 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 Lanarkshire 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 Lanark. Look in the library catalog for the 'Place-names' of Lanark 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. 72-84. Adapted. Date accessed: 27 February 2014.

Return to the Lanarkshire parish list.