Wigtownshire, Scotland Genealogy
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Guide to Wigtownshire ancestry, family history and genealogy: birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, parish registers, and military records.
Wigtonshire (or Wigtownshire) is a maritime county in the southwest of Scotland, bounded on the north by Ayrshire, on the east by the stewartry or county of Kirkcudbright and by Wigton Bay, and on the south and west by the Irish Sea. It is about 32 miles in length and 29 miles in extreme breadth, comprising an area of nearly 480 square miles or 305,000 acres.
The county, which forms the western portion of the ancient district of Galloway, appears to have derived its name from the situation of its chief town on an eminence whose base was washed by the sea. After the departure of the Romans, the province became part of the territories of the Northumbrian kings until the ninth century, when it fell into the power of the Picts who continued to exercise a kind of sovereign authority, even after the union of the two kingdoms by Kenneth II. But the original Celtic inhabitants retained their ancient customs and heroic character which caused them to be known as the "wild Scots of Galloway."
The county consists of 17 parishes. There are three royal burghs of Wigtown (the county town), Stranraer, and Whithorn; the burghs-of-barony of Newton-Stewart, Garliestown, Glenluce and Portpatrick, and several small ports and thriving villages.
The population in 1851 was 39,195.
(Source: Samuel Lewis' Topographical Dictionary of Scotland, 2nd ed., 1851. Family History Library book 941 E5L.)
ScotlandsPeople is one of the largest online sources of original genealogical information. If you are researching UK genealogy, your Scottish ancestry or building your Scottish family tree, they have more than 100 million records to look through.
The comprehensive choice of Scottish records includes:
For more detail on exact record availability, see Availability. For examples of the records available, see Record Types and Examples. More information on the site, its contents, and instructions for using it can be found in the ScotlandsPeople Wiki article. Indexes may be searched for free, and there is a small pay per view fee to see the actual digitized record.
Many census records have been indexed by surname. Some indexes cover one parish (and will be listed in the Wiki on the parish page) and some indexes are for the county as a whole. The Family History Library has county-wide census placename indexes for Wigtownshire for 1881. Click here for other census indexes available at the library.
- ScotlandsPeople, index, images, free index, pay per view ($)
- Scotland Census, 1841, no images. Also at MyHeritage, index, ($). Also at FindMyPast, index, ($). Also at Ancestry.com, index, ($).
- Scotland Census, 1851, no images. Also at MyHeritage, index, ($). Also at FindMyPast, index, ($). Also at Ancestry.com, index, ($).
- Scotland Census, 1861, no images. Also at MyHeritage, index, ($). Also at FindMyPast, index, ($). Also at Ancestry.com, index, ($).
- Scotland Census, 1871, no images. Also at FindMyPast, index, ($). Also at Ancestry.com, index, ($).
- Scotland Census, 1881, no images. Also at FindMyPast, index, ($). Also at Ancestry.com, index, ($).
- Scotland Census, 1891, no images. Also at FindMyPast, index, ($). Also at Ancestry.com, index, ($).
- Scotland Census, 1901, index and images, ($). Also at FindMyPast, index, ($). Also at Ancestry.com, index, ($).
- Scotland Census, 1911, index and images, ($).
- 1658 - 1919 - Scotland Church Records and Kirk Session Records, 1658-1919 at FamilySearch — index
Civil Registration or Statutory Registers
For details on information found in statutory registers and other methods of searching them, see Scotland Statutory Registers - Vital Records.
Some of the Wigtown-shire parish records are indexed in Wigtown, Scotland, Extracted Parish Records.
- This database is a collection of historical parish registers from the county of Wigtown in the country of Scotland. The records in this collection can range in date from the early 1500s to the mid- to late-1800s. The records include baptisms/christenings, burials, marriages, tombstone inscriptions, obituaries, tax lists, wills, and other miscellaneous types of records. Also included are some records from non-conformist churches. You will find interesting phonetic spelling. Some of the records may be in Latin or even a Welsh or Scottish dialect. Due to the nature of the records and because the records were originally compiled by a third party, it is difficult to absolutely verify the completeness and validity of the data.
Here is a list of the historic parishes for the county of Wigtown. Click on the parish name to see information about records. Click on this link for an outline map of the parishes of Wigtonshire.
|New Luce||893||Newton Stewart -- see Penninghame||895|
The Scotland Church Records Article and the Scotland Established (Presbyterian) Church Records Article provides and indepth view of Church Records.
The ScotlandsPeople website provides an index and images of Church of Scotland parish registers. FamilySearch provides a searchable index and access to microfilm copies of the registers through Family History Centers. Refer to the Parish Pages for film and or batch numbers.
The county of Wigton was in the Sheriff's court of Wigtown (SC19). The Registers of Deeds for Sheriffs' courts contain much valuable information for family history research such as marriage contracts and deeds of 'disposal and settlement' (or assignment) of property, which both give names and relationships. The records are deposited at the National Archives of Scotland in Edinburgh and are not indexed.
Galloway refers to Kirkcudbrightshire, Wigtownshire, and Dumfrieshire. The history of the region is often combined into single volumes.
- History of Dumfries and Galloway by Herbert Maxwell (1900)
- Rambles in Galloway by Malcolm McLachlan Harper (1876)
- Article - Agriculture in Kirkcudbrightshire and Wigtownshire; pages 1 – 69 (1875)
- Galloway by John MacGavin Sloan and James Faed (1908)
- The New Statistical Account of Scotland: Dumfries, Kirkcudbright, Wigton
Probate records are those which deal with the settlement of the estate of a deceased person. In Scotland, until 1868, a person could only pass movable property such as household furniture, farm equipment, livestock, money and clothes through a document known as a 'testament.' Immovable property such as land was passed to the eldest son or heir through a document known as a 'Service of Heir,' which is not a record of probate. Read more about Scotland Probate Records.
Until 1823, the parishes of Wigtownshire were under the probate jurisdiction of the Commissary Court of Wigtown (CC22). Since 1823, the county has been under the jurisdiction of the Sheriff's Court of Wigtown (SC19).
Probate records for 1513-1901 (including inventories of goods) 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' of Wigtown and the subject of 'Probate records.' Then click on the link to the 'Testaments registers.'
There are two poorhouses:
- Rhins of Galloway Combination Wigtownshire/
- Wigtownshire Combination (Stranraer) Wigtownshire/
Scotland Dumfries and Galloway Family History Center
Family History Centre
9 Glasgow Street
Tel- 01387 24809
Scottish Genealogy Society
15 Victoria Terrace
Phone-0131 220 3677
- Wigtownshire Resources and help pages on RootsChat Wigtownshire Resources and help pages. (Free).
[Return to county list.]