Glasgow, Lanarkshire, Scotland Genealogy
This is a guide to the history and major genealogical records of Scotland as they pertain to the parish of glasgow. To learn more about how to use these records to search for your ancestors, go to the Scotland: Research Strategies.
GLASGOW, a city, the seat of a university, and a sea-port, having separate jurisdiction, locally in the Lower ward of the county of Lanark, and situated in longitude 4° 15' 51" (W.), and latitude 55° 52' 10" (N.), 23 miles (E. by S.) from Greenock, 29 (S. W. by S.) from Stirling, 34 (N.E.by N.) from Ayr, 43 (W. by S.) from Edinburgh, 79 (N. N. W.) from Dumfries, 144 (S. w.) from Aberdeen, 196 (N.N.E.) from Dublin, 213 (N. W. by N.) from Manchester, and 396 (N. W. by N.) from London. This place, which appears to have been a Roman station within the wall of Antoninus, and to have formed part of the province of Valentia, is conjectured by some authorities to derive its name, originally Glas-Achadh, said by them to denote in the Gaelic language, "a green field," from a verdant piece of ground on the bank of the Clyde, by which it is bounded on the south. The city is the seat of a presbytery, including the ten parishes in Glasgow, and the twelve surrounding parishes of Barony, Gorbals, Rutherglen, Cumbernauld, Carmunnock, Cadder, Campsie, Govan, Kirkintilloch, Kilsyth, Cathcart, and Eaglesham. The cathedral is one of the proudest ornaments of the city, a stately cruciform structure in the early English style of architecture, 319 feet in length and sixty-three feet in width, with a square tower rising from the intersection of the nave and transepts, surmounted by a lofty spire, and with a tower also at the west end of the north aisle. The parish of the Inner High church, the Outer High church, or the parish of St. Paul, Tron, St. David, St. George, St. Andrew, St. Enoch, St. John, and St. James are some of the churches in the great city. There are places of worship for members of the Free Church, Glassites, Old Scotch Independents, Baptists, Scottish Baptists, the Society of Friends, and others.
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 Glasgow. Also available at the Family History Library.
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 Glasgow.
The 1841 through 1911 censuses of Scotland, indexes and images, are available on www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk for a small access fee. The indexes without images are also available on www.ancestry.com and www.findmypast.co.uk
The Established Church of Scotland was Presbyterian. Read more about Scotland Church Records.
Established Church—Old Parochial Records
As the largest city in Scotland, Glasgow had a number of established churches or parishes to serve the needs of the population. There were ten parishes in the royal burgh (Inner High Church at St. Mungo's cathedral, Tron or St. Mary's, College or Blackfriars, Outer High Church or St. Paul's, St. David's, St. George's, St. Andrew's, St. Enoch's, St. John's, and St. James') and the suburban parishes of Barony and Gorbals (including Govan). All of these parishes were in the Presbytery of Glasgow and the Synod of Glasgow and Ayr.
In 1829, a survey was sent to seventy-five clergymen and lay-pastors throughout the city and suburbs of Glasgow asking for the number of children born or baptized to members of their congregations between 14 December 1829 and 15 December 1830. The returns, considered complete, resulted in a count of 6397 children. By comparison, only 3225 children were registered in the parochial registers of the established church. That leaves 3172 children unregistered in that year. This illustrates why many children are not to be found in the old parochial records of the established church. However, the registers are still the first source for birth or baptism, marriage or proclamation, and death or burial records.
Click here to see a list of the old parochial records for the Glasgow city and parish churches.
- Lewis, Samuel A., A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland (1846), pp. 478-499. Adapted. Date accessed: 28 February 2014.
- "The New Statistical Account of Scotland," 1845, vol.6 for Lanarkshire, pages 123-124. Available online at http://edina.ac.uk/stat-acc-scot/.
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.
Click here to see a list of the records of the various kirk sessions of Glasgow.
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.
Click here to see a list of Glasgow area pre-1855 nonconformist churches with their histories and records.
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.
Courtesy of the National Library of Scotland, Post Office Directories are avilable online. The directories available for Glasgow are:
1783-1912: These are available in either PDF format or viewable online. ( A few years are missing)
Poor Law Records
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.)
The city of Glasgow had a parochial board and the neighboring areas of Barony, Govan and Gorbals each had their own (see those parish pages for more). The city was divided into six districts (later expanded to twelve) and each district kept detailed registers of the poor receiving relief while the board also kept minutes of meetings and accounts of assessments and expenditures. Not all records survive equaly well, but those that do are very helpful to family history research.
Registers of applications for relief from the various districts, generally for 1851-1900 (though there are some gaps in records) are on microfilm at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City:
An index has been created to the Glasgow applications for relief that is available as a searchable database on computer at the Glasgow City Archives, Mitchell Library, in Glasgow. There is no cost for using the index or the archive collection. Once a search is made in the index and a reference is found, the appropriate register is ordered. After a short wait, you can view the original register in the archive's search room. You can read all about the search room rules by clicking here.
Glasgow 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 Lanark 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.
- 1783-1801 - The Glasgow Advertiser at Google News - free.
- 1802-1805 - Herald and Advertiser at Google News - free.
- 1806-1990 - The Glasgow Herald at Google News - free.
Return to the Lanarkshire parish list.