Penpont, Dumfriesshire, Scotland Genealogy

From FamilySearch Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search

Scotland Gotoarrow.png Dumfriesshire, Scotland Gotoarrow.png Penpont

Parish #845

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



PENPONT, a parish and village, and the seat of a presbytery, in the county of Dumfries, 2 miles (W. S. W.) from Thornhill. This parish is supposed to have derived its name from a very ancient bridge erected over the Scarr, of which the abutments rested on the summits of two precipitous rocks on opposite banks of the river, and which, from the singularity of its appearance, obtained the appellation of the "Hanging bridge." The parish is bounded on the west for almost five miles by the river Scarr, and on the north-east for about three miles by the Nith. The church, which is situated at the lower extremity of the parish, about 150 yards from the village, was built in 1782, and since substantially repaired. It is a neat plain structure, partly cruciform, and contains 408 sittings. There are places of worship for Reformed Presbyterians and members of the Relief.[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 Penpont. 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 Penpont.

Below is information for any known surname indexes:


Years Surname Index           
1841 941.48/P1 X22d 1841
1851 941.48/M5 X2m 1851
1881 6086550 ( 3 fiche)

The 1901 census of Scotland is indexed on scotlandspeople.($)  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: 1728-1854 1067970 item 3-4
Marriages: 1845-1854 1067970 item 3-4
Deaths: No entries

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: Early registers were burned in a fire. May 1730 there are two pages of irregular entries, two families 1771–1804 and the whole record after March 1797 is extremely irregular in respect of dates. After 1819 there are seven entries for 1740–1748, on one page.
Marriages: After the 1819 page of births there is one page containing marriage entries for 1739. Except for the above mentioned entry for 1739 and the one for 1845, there are no records until October 1851.
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 1833
2 Communion Rolls - date unknown
3 Cash Books - date unknown
Note: Available at the Scottish National Archives, Edinburgh, record CH2/1205.

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.

Burnhead United Presbyterian Church

Burnhead is a hamlet in the parish of Penpont. The congregation of Burnhead originated in the settlement of an unpopular minister in the parish of Penpont. On the 26th of November 1798, "a presentation of grievances" was laid before the Relief Presbytery of Dumfries by a respectable body of men in the parish, accompanied by a petition requesting supply of sermon. A minister preached to them, by appointment of the Presbytery, on the third Sabbath of December following, and a large congregation was almost immediately formed. A number of parishioners in other parishes, dissatisfied with their ministers, also found the formation of this congregation a relief to them and speedily connected with it. A church was built in 1800 and another one rebuilt in 1839.
Membership: 1834, 347 persons 79 families.
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

Minutes 1847–1911
Note: Available at the Scottish National Archives, Edinburgh, record CH3/1211.

Penpont Reformed, later West Free Church

This congregation, locally known as Scaurbridge, originally formed part of the Reformed congregation of Newton Stewart. The congregation was divided into two in 1796. A church was built in 1791. The congregation of Douglas Water was disjoined from this in 1807. In 1826 there arose a difference of opinion about the boundary between Penpont and Quarrelwood which continued for some time. In spite of some difficulties, this congregation became the second largest in the denomination. The congregation united with the Free Church in 1876. The membership was then 140, for although they were situated in the center of a great covenanting district, the area was agricultural and pastoral, with a decreasing population.
Membership: 1834, 235 persons of 48 families; 1877, 142; 1900, 119.
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 pre–1855 records is unknown.

Penpont Free Church

This congregation originated at the Disruption, and was drawn from six neighboring parishes. During the summer and autumn of 1843, public worship was frequently conducted in the open air. At first no site could be obtained, owing to the influence of the Duke of Buccleuch; but a poor weaver, Janet Douglas Fraser, voluntarily bequeathed her small freehold to the congregation. Here the church was built, supported underneath by strong stone pillars, between which were stalls for thirty horses. The church was opened in 1844. A property of 3 acres on the opposite side of the road was purchased for the congregation, and there a manse was built in 1847. The church was remodeled in 1886. A school was bought in Thornhill, and altered into a church hall. The congregation suffered owing to the great decline of population in the surrounding parishes.
Membership: 1848, 630; 1900, 400.
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.

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

Penpont 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. 351-367. Adapted. Date accessed: 21 March 2014.

Return to the Dumfriesshire parish list.