Wigtown, Wigtownshire, Scotland
This is a guide to the history and major genealogical records of Scotland as they pertain to the parish of Wigtown. To learn more about how to use these records to search for your ancestors, go to the Scotland: Research Strategies.
- 1 History
- 2 Census Records
- 3 Church Records
- 4 Civil Registration Records
- 5 Probate Records
- 6 References
WIGTON, or WIGTOWN, a royal burgh, a sea-port, the county town, and a parish, in the county of Wigton or Wigtown, 105 miles (S. W. by S.) from Edinburgh containing the village of Bladnoch. This place is supposed to have been long occupied by the Saxons, who in the 7th or 8th century made themselves masters of this part of the country, and from whom the town is said to have derived its name, in the Saxon language descriptive of its situation on a hill. The parish is bounded on the east by Wigton bay and on the south by the river Bladnoch. The church, situated in a beautifully retired spot at the eastern extremity of the town, is a very ancient structure, but, from frequent alterations and repairs, retains little of its original character; it has 660 sittings. There are places of worship for members of the Free Church and United Secession; and a congregation of the Relief used formerly to assemble every Sabbath in the town-hall.
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 Wigtown. 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. The Scottish government began taking censuses of the population in 1801 but the first one that lists all members of a household by name is the 1841. Census records are not available to the public until one hundred years have passed. Read more about census records.
Click here[low quality link] to go to the Family History Library Catalog entry for the census records of Wigtown. The Family History Library also has a surname index for the 1841 census of Wigtown as well as a surname index for the 1881 census for the whole of Wigtonshire.
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.
The Established Church of Scotland was Presbyterian. Read more about church records.
Here are the pre-1855 records that exist for this parish.
Established Church—Parochial Registers
|Years Covered||FHL Film Number|
|Births:||1736-1854||1068042 items 6-7|
|Marriages:||1731-1782||1068042 items 6-7|
|Deaths:||1731-1782||1068042 items 6-7|
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 of the records may be indexed in the FamilySearch.org
Births: There are no entries November 1751–September 1753, but there are twelve irregular entries 1745–1768. There are only twenty entries September 1753–January 1771 and the entries October 1772–January 1779 are incomplete. The regular record has no entries December 1782–September 1799, but there are irregular entries on five pages at that point, dated 1774–1798. There are Irregular entries, 1740–1761 and one family is recorded in 1829.
Marriages: There are no entries except one for 1754, February 1752–April 1772 and none except one for 1775, December 1772–April 1777. The record ends June 1782, except for one entry for 1832.
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 he 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 1701–1745, a few 1785–1815 mixed with accounts; 1822–1823, 1843–1854,1857–1889
Communion Roll 1848–1934 - with gaps
Notes: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/374.
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 List.
Wigtown United Associate Presbyterian Records
The Secession cause secured warm adherents in almost all parts of the country from Newton–Stewart and Minnigaff in the north, to Sorbie and Whithorn on the south. The controversy respecting the Burgess Oath had arisen and the Breach prevented the infant cause in Galloway from being attended to for a time. The people in Galloway almost unanimously adhered to the General Associate Anti-burgher Synod. The division diminished the number of preachers available for supplying vacancies and sermon was afforded to Wigtown in common with other places similarly situated, only at distant intervals. In addition to this circumstance, great difficulty was found in obtaining a site on which to build a place of worship. One was eventually furnished and a place of worship was built in 1750, to which galleries were added in 1785 and which was thereby rendered capable of holding 450 sitters. The church was rebuilt in 1845.
Source: Annals and Statistics of the United Presbyterian Church, by Rev. William MacKelvie, D.D., pub. 1873. Film #477618. More details may be given in the source.
Records— FHL Film Number
Baptisms 1849–1862 0304671 item 29
Marriages 1849–1855 0304671 item 29
Wigtown Free Church
This congregation began as a preaching station, was sanctioned as a full charge at the end of 1843. Lack of funds to complete the church which was being erected for the Relief Church led to the unfinished building being offered for sale. It was purchased on behalf of the congregation and became the Free Church of Wigtown.
Membership: 1848, 238; 1900, 153.
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.
Records— FHL Film Number
Baptisms1844–1858, 1875-76 0304671 item 30
Session Minutes 1845–1942
Deacons Court Minutes 1853–1901
Baptismal Register 1844–1947
Communion Roll 1844–1919
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH3/311.
Wigtown Catholic Church
Though the congregation was formed in 1838, it was served from Newton Stewart until 1879.
See Penninghame parish for 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.
Wigtown was under the probate jurisdiction of the Commissary Court of Wigtwon until 1823, and since then has been under the Sheriff's Court of Wigtown. 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 Wigtown and the subject of 'Probate records.' Then click on the link to the records of the Commissariat of Wigtown.
The library also has some post-1823 probate records for Wigtown. Look in the library catalog for the 'Place-names' of Wigtown and the subjects of 'Probate Records' and 'Probate Records - Indexes.'
Read more about Scotland Probate Records.
- Lewis, Samuel A., A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland (1846), pp. 609-617. Adapted. Date accessed: 07 March 2014.
Return to the Wigtownshire parish list