Carnwath, Lanarkshire, Scotland Genealogy

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Scotland Gotoarrow.png Lanarkshire Gotoarrow.png Carnwath

Carnwath (#632)

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


CARNWATH, a parish, in the Upper ward of the county of Lanark; including the villages of Braehead, Forth, Newbigging, and Wilsontown; 25 miles (S. W.) from Edinburgh. This place is supposed to have derived its name from an ancient cairn, to the west of the present village, and near a ford (wath in Saxon) across the burn, now called Carnwath, which, previously to the construction of the bridges, was passable only here. The principal rivers are the Clyde and the Medwin, which form part of the southern boundary. The church, erected in 1798, and thoroughly repaired in 1833, is a plain neat edifice, adapted for a congregation of about 1100 persons, but almost inaccessible to a great portion of the population. Chapels in connexion with the Established Church have been built at Wilsontown and Climpy. There is a place of worship for members of the New Light Burghers congregation, on the road to Wilsontown; and the parish also contains a place of worship in connexion with the Free 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  Click on ‘Browse scanned pages’ then search the parish reports for Carnwath. 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 Carnwath.

Below is information for any known surname indexes:

Years Surname Index            
1851 CD-ROM no. 1850
1861 6205850
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 Family History Library call numbers.

Established Church—Old Parochial Registers

Years Covered FHL Film Number
Births: 1709-1802 1042970 item 3
1801-1855 1042971items 1-3
Marriages: 1705-1735, 1826-1854 1042971 items 1-3
Deaths: 1705-1735, 1826-1854 1042971 items 1-3
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 theInternational Genealogical Index. 
Births: After 1800 there are irregular entries, many years are out of order of time and e frequently whole families are recorded together.
Marriages: There is record of proclamation money. Entries are recorded with Mortcloth Dues and the month and day are often not specified in the entries. There are no entries 1708–1709 and 1716–November 1724 inclusive. There are also no entries 1735–1826.
Deaths: Mortcloth Dues. Entries are recorded with proclamation money and the month and day are often not specified in the entries. There are no entries 1708–1709 and 1716–November 1724 inclusive. There are no entries 1735–1826.
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:

Account Book 1749–1846
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/60.

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.

Carnwath Free Church

This congregation was organized immediately after the Disruption in 1843, and a church and manse were erected. The first minister, Mr. James Walker, served this congregation nearly 50 years.
Membership: 1848, 600; 1900, 314.
Source: Annals of the Free Church of Scotland, 1843–1900, ed. Rev. William Ewing, D.D., 2 vols. pub. 1914. Family History Llibrary Film #918572. More details may be given in the source including a list of ministers.

The extent of records is unknown.

Braehead and Carnwath United Presbyterian Churches

In 1796, the members of the congregation of Biggar, resident in and about Carnwath, were formed into a separate congregation, with its seat in Carnwath, under the sanction of the Associate Burgher Presbytery of Edinburgh. The members residing in the north were desirous of having the seat of the congregation nearer them and applied to the Associate Burgher Presbytery to supply them with sermon at Braehead, which was granted the following year. The station at Carnwath was then abandoned and the persons previously assembling there attended at Braehead till they again became a separate congregation. A place of worship was built at Braehead in 1798. It was rebuilt in 1846. The Carnwath congregation was reestablished in 1832 with 50 members from the Braehead congregation and their minister. A church was built the same year and Braehead acquired a new minister.
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.

Haywood Branch, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter–Day Saints

                                                       Family History Library Film Number
Record of Members   1849–1888        0104153 item 1

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

Carnwath 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 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. 185-200. Adapted. Date accessed: 27 February 2014.

Return to the Lanarkshire parish list.