Kirkoswald, Ayr, Scotland Genealogy

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Parish  #601

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


     This parish takes its name from Oswald, a Northumbrian king of the Heptarchy, who built a church on the site of the burying ground beside the village, in gratitude, it is said, for a victory he had there obtained.  Kirkoswald is the nearest town.  Upon a small promontory on the barony of Turnberry, now the property of the Earl of Cassillis, are the ruins of the famous castle of Turnberry, the seat of the Earls of Carrick.  The land was primarily used for, wheat, beans, oats, dairies, cheese, coal, some fishing of salmon, white-fish, and herring.  The population in 1081 was 1679.  The population in 1841 was 2030.  There are registers of births, baptisms, marriages, and deaths, all regularly kept. No dates given of when they commenced.  The whole population with the exception of five or six Dissenting families, belong to the Established Church.

This historical account was written in 1842.

source: New Statistical Account of Scotland (Family History Library book 941 B4sa, series 2 vol.5)


 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 Kirkoswald. 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.

Here is a list of the Family History Library microfilm numbers for the census records of Kirkoswald as well as the library numbers for any surname indexes available:

Years Family History Library Film Number Surname Index          
1841 1042736 CD-ROM no. 2524
1851 1042406
1861 103804
1871 103963
1881 203604 6086514 ( 10 fiche)
1891 220221

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.

Established Church—Old Parochial Registers

Years Covered Family History Library Film Number
Births: 1694-1854 1041391
Marriages: 1694-1854 1041391
Deaths: 1724-1854 1041391

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 be  indexed in theInternational Genealogical Index.  
Births:There are no entries January 1699–November 1700 and May 1797–January 1798. A portion of the page at December 1781 is cut off. After December 1816 is a copy or draft of entries for October 1787–May 1792.
Marriages From May 1699–January 1797 the names of two witnesses are usually recorded.
Deaths: There are no entries October 1738–March 1741, January 1790–May 1793, and December 1808–January 1819.
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 1617–1660, 1694–1755, 1760–1961
Accounts 1736–1738, 1755–1768, 1847–1949
List of Parishioners 1831
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/562.

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.

Kirkoswald Free Church

This congregation was formed by members and adherents who left the Established Church at the Disruption. In 1845 a catechist was appointed to work in Kirkoswald and the neighboring village of Maidens. That year the congregation was recognized as a preaching station. The lease of certain old properties in Kirkoswald village was purchased, and on the site thus secured, the church was built in 1849. The charge was sanctioned in 1860. A manse was erected in 1862.
Membership: 1866, 90; 1900, 148.
Source:Annals of the Free Church of Scotland, 1843–1900, ed. Rev. William Ewing, D.D., 2 vols. pub. 1914. Film #918572. More details may be given in the source, including a list of ministers.

Accounts 1851–1874
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH3/498.

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

Kirkoswald was under the probate jurisdiction of the Commissary Court of Glasgow until 1823, and since then has been under the Sheriff's Court of Ayr.  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 Ayr 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 Ayr. Look in the library catalog for the 'Place-names' of Ayr and the subjects of 'Probate Records' and 'Probate Records - Indexes.'
Read more about Scotland Probate Records.

Return to the Ayrshire Parish List