Gorbals, Lanarkshire, Scotland Genealogy

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Scotland Gotoarrow.png Lanarkshire Gotoarrow.png Gorbals

Gorbals (#644-2)

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


GORBALS, a parish, in the suburbs of the city of Glasgow, chiefly in the county of Lanark, but partly in the Upper ward of the county of Renfrew. This place, originally called Bridgend, from its situation at the extremity of a bridge over the Clyde, connecting it with Glasgow, was anciently part of the parish of Govan, from which it was separated in 1771. The church erected in 1771 was subsequently purchased for the district of Kirkfield, and a larger and more commodious edifice built for this parish in 1813. It is a handsome structure, and contains 1460 sittings. There are also places of worship for members of the Free Church, United Secession, Relief Church, and Wesleyans.[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 Gorbals.  Also available at the Family History Library.

The area of Gorbals was acquired about 1660 from Sir Robert Douglas of Blackereston.  The village that then existed at the south end of the Bridge of Glasgow was also called Bridge-end. Gorbals was part of Govan parish until it was created as a separate ecclesiastical parish in 1771.  In 1846 an Act was passed to extend the municipal boundaries of the city of Glasgow which then incorporated Gorbals. [2]

  1. Lewis, Samuel A., A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland (1846), pp. 499-514. Adapted. Date accessed: 28 February 2014.
  2. Brotchie, T. C. F. The History of Govan Burgh and Parish, pub. 1905. (FHL book 941.43/G2 H2b; film 0990410 item 4.)

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 Gorbals.

Below is information for any known surname indexes:

Years Surname Index            
1841 CD-ROM no. 3881
1851 6203884
1861 6205855 ( 8 fiche)
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 Records

Event Years Covered FHL Film Number
Births: 1771--1854 1042981item 3-5
Marriages: 1771-1854 1042981 item 3-5
Deaths: 1807-1854 - burials 1042983
Burials Index: 1807-1854 FHL CD-ROM #6589 (see http://www.gwsfhs.org.uk/content/publications.aspx)
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: No notations.
Marriages: From April 1798–1816 the fact of marriage is seldom added to the entries of proclamations. The records of births and marriages, 1820–1854, for Gorbals are in the custody of the registrar of Hutchesontown District.
Deaths: No notations.
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 1800–1942
Note: Available at the Glasgow City Archives, Glasgow, record CH2/1311.

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.

Gorbals United Presbyterian Church

In 1850, a Christian Visiting Association, along with a Total Abstinence Society, worked in the district of Main Street in Gorbals and soon had a large membership. They were soon formed into a preaching station. In 1852 they petitioned the United Presbyterian Church for supply of sermon, which was granted. In April 1853, the 64 church members were declared a congregation. An official place of worship was built and opened in 1854, and membership then stood at 141. By 1860 membership had grown to 468 and the church was expanded. By 1872, 845 persons had been received into communion and 427 baptized.
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 name of ministers.

The extent of records is unknown.

Gorbals Free Church

A majority of Gorbals Kirk Session “came out” in 1843 and formed the Session of the new Free Church. The congregation met at first in the Baronial Hall, on Main Street. The church was built in 1844. A new church and halls on South Portland Street were erected in 1898. The work became increasingly difficult owing to the growing number of Roman Catholics and Jews in the district.
Membership: 1848, 380; 1900, 750.
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.

Records—                                      FHL Film Number
Minutes 1843–1855                         1886223 items 4–5
Deacons’ Court Minutes 1851–1859 1886223 items 4–5

Gorbals Wesleyan Methodist Church

Lewis’s Topographical Dictionary of Scotland 1846, states that a church existed at that time, but no history is available. The church may have been short lived.

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.

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.)

Beginning in 1873, the parishes of Gorbals and Govan were combined for poor law purposes under one Board of Supervision. Therefore, for records, one must look to Govan parish. Look in the Family History Library catalog for records on microfilm. Records for Gorbals before 1873 do not appear to survive. In turn, Govan was apparently united with Glasgow for poor law purposes in 1878. 

An index has been created to the Glasgow area 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.

Probate Records

Gorbals 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.


Return to the Lanarkshire parish list.