Ayrshire, Scotland Genealogy

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Spout of Garnock, Scotland, North Ayrshire


Ayrshire, an extensive county on the western coast of Scotland, is bounded on the north by Renfrewshire, on the east by the counties of Lanark and Dumfries, on the south by the stewartry of Kirkcudbright and the county of Wigton, and on the west by the Firth of Clyde and the Irish Channel. It is about sixty miles in length and nearly thirty in extreme breadth. It comprised an area of about 1600 square miles or 1,024,000 acres. It includes forty-six parishes and is divided into the districts of Carrick, Kyle, and Cunninghame. It contains the royal burghs of Ayr (the county town) and Irvine. There are thirteen towns and numerous large and populous villages.

The population in 1851 was 164,356.

(Source:  Samuel Lewis' Topographical Dictionary of Scotland, 2nd ed., 1851. Family History Library book 941 E5L.)

Scotlands People: An Important 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 exact record availability, see Availability. For examples of the records available, see Record Types and Examples.


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 Ayrshire for 1881.  Click here for other census indexes available at the library.

Civil Registration or Statutory Registers

For details on information found in statutory registers and other methods of searching them, see Scotland Statutory Registers - Vital Records.

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


Some of the Ayrshire parish records are indexed in Ayrshire, Scotland, Extracted Parish Records.

This database is a collection of historical parish registers from the county of Ayrshire 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 Ayrshire.  Click on the parish name to see information about records. Click on this link for an outline map of Ayrshire parishes.

Historic Parishes for the County of Ayrshire
Parish No. Parish No.
Ardrossan 576 Kilwinning 599
Auchinleck 577 Kirkmichael 600
Ayr 578 Kirkoswald 601
Ballantrae 579 Largs 602
Barr 580 Loudoun 603
Beith 581 Mauchline 604
Colmonell 582 Maybole 605
Coylton 583 Monkton & Prestwick 606
Craigie 584 Muirkirk 607
Dailly 585 New Cumnock 608
Dalgain -- see Sorn 613 Newton-upon-Ayr -- see St. Quivox 612
Dalmellington 586 Ochiltree 609
Dalry 587 Old Cumnock 610
Dalrymple 588 Prestwick -- see Monkton 606
Dreghorn 589 Riccarton 611
Dundonald 590 St. Quivox & Newton-upon-Ayr 612
Dunlop 591 Sorn (formerly Dalgain) 613
Fenwick 592 Stair 614
Galston 593 Stevenston 615
Girvan 594 Stewarton 616
Irvine 595 Straiton 617
Kilbirnie 596 Symington 618
Kilmarnock 597 Tarbolton 619
Kilmaurs 598 West Kilbride 620

Archives & Libraries

The Ayrshire Archives network consists of three offices:

In addition, the following library holds valuable collections for Ayrshire family history research:



Courtesy of the National Library of Scotland, Post Office Directories are avilable online. The directories available for Ayrshire are: 1830-1912: These are available in either PDF format or viewable online.

Poor Law

Prior to 1845, the care of the poor was the joint responsibility of the kirk session and the heritors (local landowners).  Beginning in 1845, parochial boards were responsible and they collected funds from property taxes rather than church collections and contributions from heritors.  The New Poor Law system took a while to be fully accepted in all areas of the country, though in some areas civil responsibility was practiced from the 1830's.  (For further information, see the Wiki article on Scotland Poorhouses, Poor Law, Etc.)

Quote from the website of the Ayrshire Archives:

"Parochial Boards and Parochial Councils were responsible for the provision of poor relief, cemetery administration, and civil registration. Parish records were inherited by the County Council and survive for most parishes in Ayrshire.

"The records consist of board minutes, registers of applications for relief, inspectors' letter books and accounts (1845-1929). There are also a number of records relating to Cunninghame Combination Poorhouse (1854-1930), Maybole Combination Poorhouse (1865-1910) and the Kyle Union Poorhouse (1860-1977) and include registers of inmates, minutes, letter books, plans and accounts.

"Many of the records give details of applicants’ health, financial and family difficulties and are a rich source for family and social historians."  The records are closed for 75 years.

  • An online index to the poor law records for northern Ayrshire parishes is available for free on the website of the Vennel Local and Family History Centre in Irvine. You must register to use the index. The centre also holds the original records for north Ayrshire.
  • Poor law records for the parishes of east Ayrshire are held at the Burns Monument Centre at Kilmarnock.
  • Poor law records for the parishes of south Ayrshire are held at the Ayrshire Archives Centre in the town of Auchincruive east of the city of Ayr.


There were 4 workhouses in this county:

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


Scotland North Ayrshire FamilyHistory Society
The Secretary
Largs & North Ayrshire F.H.S.
c/o Largs Library
26 Allanpark Street
KA30 9AG
By e-mail, using the following link
General enquires

Scottish Genealogy Society
15 Victoria Terrace
Tel-0131 220 3677

Glasgow & West of Scotland Family History Society
Unit 13, 32 Mansfield Street
Glasgow G11 5QP
Tel. +44 (0) 141 339 8303

East Ayrshire Family History Society
c/o The Dick Institute
Elmbank Avenue