Dumfries, Dumfriesshire, Scotland Genealogy

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Scotland Gotoarrow.png Dumfriesshire

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


DUMFRIES, a royal burgh, county town, port, and the seat of a presbytery and synod, in the county of Dumfries; comprising the parishes of St. Michael and New-Church, with the villages of Georgetown, Locharbriggs, Lochthorn, and part of Kelton; 71½ miles (S. by W.) from Edinburgh. This place is supposed to have derived its name from its situation on an eminence rising from a tract of sterile soil abounding in brushwood or furze. The town is pleasantly situated on the east bank of the river Nith. St. Michael, situated at the south-east end of the town, was built on the site of the ancient structure in 1745; it is a neat edifice with a lofty graceful spire, and contains 1250 sittings. New Church, situated at the north-west end of the town, was erected on the site, and partly with the materials, of the ancient castle. It is a neat structure containing 1185 sittings. The subordinate church of St. Mary, fronting the road to England, was erected in 1838. it is an elegant structure in the later English style of architecture, with an embattled tower surmounted by a lofty spire strengthened with flying buttresses. An episcopal chapel was erected in 1817; and there are places of worship for members of the Free Church, the United Secession, the Relief Church, Reformed Presbyterians, Independents, and Wesleyans, 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 edina.($)  Click on ‘Browse scanned pages’ then search the parish reports for Dumfries. 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 Lanark.

Below is information for any known surname indexes:


Years Surname Index          
1851 CD-ROM no. 1850
1861 6205865
1881 6086616 ( 41 fiche)

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 Scotland Church Records.

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

Established Church—Old Parochial Registers

Years Covered FHL Film Number
Births: 1605-1702 1067958 item 8
1702-1819 1067959
1820-1854 1067960
1820-1854 - index 1067961
1843-1852- neglected entries 1067961
Marriages: 1616-1743 1067859
1743-1818 1067960
1820-1855 1067961
Deaths: 1617-1819 1067960
1819-1854 1067961

Condition of Original Registers—

Index: 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 also be indexed in other FamilySearch collections for Scotland.
Births: There are no entries for October 1613–November 1614, October 1624–September 1635 except one for 1625 and two for 1634, July 1650–July 1654, and October 1662–August 1667. A portion of the page at 1670 has been cut off. There is a duplicate of the record for 1793–1819.
Marriages: There are no entries for September 1623–October 1635, from which date to 1648 proclamations are intermixed with other matters. There are no entries December 1648–Jul 1654 or October 1662–August 1667. After June 1743 are found 33 entries for October 1736–October 1740. There is a duplicate of the record for February 1794–January 1818.
Deaths: No entries November 1623–September 1635, after which are burials; June 1650–February 1655; February 1663–August 1667; and three for 1792, 1804 and 1806, February 1791–Jan 1807. A cholera epidemic occurred in the parish in the fall of 1832. Between 15 September and 27 November 422 persons died. Many were buried in common graves.
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 1838–1927
Communion Rolls 1854–1871
Note: Available at the Scottish National Archives, Edinburgh, record CH2/979 & l049.

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.

Lereburn Street General Associate Church

The church of Troqueer became vacant in 1733, and there was disagreement as to who the new minister should be. The issue went through the Presbytery, the Synod, and up to the General Assembly. The people were in a high state of excitement and the church of Troqueer was in a great measure deserted. The greater portion of them connected themselves with the other parochial churches in the neighborhood, but a goodly number began to attend upon the seceding ministers then visiting Nithsdale, and ultimately connected themselves with them. The Seceders in Annandale formed a congregation in 1743, with its seat in Lockerbie, and those sympathizing with them in and about Dumfries traveled there for ordinances. The Breach in 1747 hindered their being organized into a congregation. Those adhering to the General Associate Antiburgher Synod continued to travel to Lockerbie until the year 1757, when they petitioned the Presbytery of Sanquhar for supply of sermon at Dumfries, which was granted. Membership: 1791, 270; 1833, 12 families from within the parish and 58 from without.
Source: Annals and Statistics of the United Presbyterian Church, by Rev. William MacKelvie, D.D., pub. 1873. Film #477618. More details are given in the source.

FHL Call Number
Baptisms 1765–1808 941.48 K2mc
Minutes 1765–1807
Note: Available at the Scottish National Archives, Edinburgh, record CH3/641.

Buccleuch Street Associate Church

This congregation originated with members of the Relief congregation in Dumfries, who took offence at their minister. Supply of sermon was afforded them, on petition, by the Associate Burgher Presbytery of Selkirk in 1808. They worshiped in a hall in the town until 1810, when they removed to a church they had built for themselves on Buccleuch Street.
Source: Annals and Statistics of the United Presbyterian Church, by Rev. William MacKelvie, D.D., pub. 1873. Film #477618. More details are given in the source.


Record Type Coverage Dates FHL Call Number
Church accounts and annual reports 1877–1921 1484192 item 2–5
Church Session records 1810–1865 same
Baptisms 1846–1856 Book 941.48/D1 K2m
Baptisms 1846–1944 1484192 item 2–5
Communion rolls 1852–1864 same

Managers Minutes 1848–1946
Account Book 1811–1827
Note: Available at the Scottish National Archives, Edinburgh, record CH3/83.

Townhead Relief Church

This congregation originated in the dislike felt by a number of persons to the law of patronage and the lax discipline in the Church of Scotland. In compliance with a petition the Relief Presbytery of Glasgow appointed the Rev. Mr. Kirkwood of Strathayen to preach in Dumfries on the first and second Sabbaths of October 1788. A congregation was soon after organized. A Church was built in1788. A new church was opened in 1868.
Membership: 1791, 200; 1833, 125 families, including some from neighboring parishes.
Source: Annals and Statistics of the United Presbyterian Church, by Rev. William MacKelvie, D.D., pub. 1873. Film #477618. More details are given in the source.

The extent of records is unknown. No records are deposited at a record office or library.

Cameronian Church, Reformed Presbyterian

The location of this church is unknown, and indeed there was likely no church building, but there were groups of people who met together as societies. At the time of the Revolution Settlement of 1689–1690, when the Church of Scotland became the established church, the Cameronians (after their leader), also known as the Mountain Men, remained apart and met together for their own form of worship. A Presbytery was not formed until 1743.
Source: The Reformed Presbyterian Church in Scotland, by W. J. Couper, pub. 1925. FHL book 941 K2c.

Births and Marriages, 1706–1744
These are the earliest existing Cameronian records.
Note: Available at the Scottish National Archives, Edinburgh, record MR 28. A Xerox copy is also available at the Dumfries Archive Centre at 33 Burns Street, Dumfries, DG1 2PS, Scotland.

Martyr's Free Church, formerly a Reformed Church

This was originally a Reformed Presbyterian congregation and pre–dates 1763, when it became part of the Southern Scotland congregation. That congregation was divided into two 1786. In 1826 the separate congregation for Dumfries was formed. A church was erected on Irving Street in 1832. It united with the Free Church in 1876. After the Union the more distant members gradually attached themselves to churches in their own neighborhoods. The congregation declined and was dissolved in 1924 and the church was sold.
Membership: 1833, 12 families within the parish; 1857, 240; 1862, 300; 1877, 161; 1900, 133.
Source: Annals of the Free Church of Scotland, 1843–1900, ed. Rev. William Ewing, D.D., 2 vols. pub. 1914. Film #918572. More details are given in the source. Also: The Reformed Presbyterian Church in Scotland, by W. J. Couper, pub. 1925. FHL book 941 K2c. More details may be given in the source including lists of ministers.

No known pre–1855 records.

St. George's Free Church

Dr. John R. Mackenzie, minister of St. Mary's quoad sacra church, and many of his congregation "came out" in 1843. They worshiped for nearly a year in the Old Assembly Rooms. The church was built on George Street, and opened in April 1844. It was rebuilt and enlarged in 1892. The minister at first, and for some time, had charge of the parishes of Kirkmahoe, Tinwald, Caerlaverock, and the upper part of Torthowald. The congregation received a great impetus from the revival of 1860–1861. A mission was then established at the south end of the town, under care of St. George's which afterwards became the South Free Church.
Membership: 1848, 620; 1900, 605.
Source: Annals of the Free Church of Scotland, 1843–1900, ed. Rev. William Ewing, D.D., 2 vols. pub. 1914. Film #918572. More details are given in the source.

The extent of records is unknown. No records are deposited at a record office or library.

Dumfries Congregational Church

James Haldane preached in Dumfries in the summer of 1801. A prayer meeting being held there was greatly increased as a result. A Tabernacle was built in 1803 by Robert Haldane later lost when the Haldane brothers became Baptists in 1808. In 1806 a congregation was formed with about twenty members. Until 1835, the members had no church building of their own and worshiped in a small chapel which they rented; but in that year a church was opened on Irving Street. It was greatly enlarged in 1862–1864 and partly rebuilt at the turn of the century. Membership was constant but never very large. In 1917 a union was affected with the Waterloo Place congregation which had been formed in 1870. This congregation was still active in 1993.
Source: AHistory of Scottish Congregationalism, by Harry Escott, pub. 1960. FHL book 941 K2es. More details may be given in the source including a list of ministers.

The extent of records is unknown. For information write to:
The Congregational Union of Scotland
Church House
340 Cathedral Street
Glasgow G1 2BG

Dumfries Methodist Chapel


Note: The first chapel was built in 1788–1789. The society was still in existence in 1947 but is no longer in existence.
Membership: 1833, 43 families.

The 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

Dumfries Episcopal Church

Note: A chapel was built pre–1791.
Membership: 1791, 150; 1833, 56 families of whom one–third were from without the parish.

Baptisms 1762–1854
Marriages 1769–1771, 1843–1854
Burials 1846–1854
Note: Available from the incumbent.

Dumfries Roman Catholic Church

Note: Formed in 1813, church dedicated to St. Andrew in 1849.
Membership: 1791, 38;

Baptisms 1810–1857
Confirmations 1830–1855
Deaths 1845–1857
Note: Available at the Scottish National Archives, record RH21/54.
Marriages from 1815
Note: In local custody, possibly at the church.


Genealogy From Periodicals

Hancock, Susan. My Elusive Great Grandmother. History, photos and family history of John Aiston, and Madgalene nee Gordon, with the following surnames: Dixon, Peel, Tegget, Shivers, Chivers, Adie, Riddick. Family seems to be scattered, Scotland, Dumfrieshire, Gateshead, Addison, Newcastle Upon Tyne. Article dated 1851-1974, and is found in Northumberland & Durham Family History Society Journal. vol.39.no.4, pages 169-172, Family History Library Ref. 942.8 B2jo vol.39. no.4, (winter 2014)


Probate Records

Dumfries was under the probate jurisdiction of the Commissary Court of Dumfries until 1823, and since then has been under the Sheriff's Court of Dumfries. Probate records for 1513- 1901 are indexed online at scotlandspeople.($)  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 Dumfries and the subject of 'Probate records.' Then click on the link to the records of the Commissariat of Dumfries.
The library also has some post-1823 probate records for Dumfries. Look in the library catalog for the 'Place-names' of Dumfries 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. 297-310. Adapted. Date accessed: 14 March 2014.

Return to the Dumfriesshire parish list.