Johnstone, Dumfriesshire, Scotland Genealogy

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Scotland Gotoarrow.png Dumfriesshire, Scotland Gotoarrow.png Johnstone

Parish  #832

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



JOHNSTONE, a parish, in the county of Dumfries, 9 miles (S. by E.) from Moffat. It is generally supposed that the name of this place was derived from some ancient and important personage of the name of John, distinguished either by his possessions or achievements, and to whose name the ordinary Saxon termination ton or toun was added. The parish is situated in that part of Dumfriesshire known by the name of Annandale, and comprehends a considerable portion of the old parishes of Garvald and Dumgree. The church, which is inconveniently situated, on the eastern extremity of the parish, was built in 1733, and rebuilt and enlarged in 1818, and is now a comfortable and commodious edifice.[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 [parish]. 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 Johnstone. 

Below is information for any known surname indexes:


Years Surname Index          
1841 941.48/J1 X22 1841
1851 941 X22d v. 1 pt. 16
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: 1734-1854 1067964 item 3-4
Marriages: 1735-1740, 1852-1854 1067964 item 3-4
Deaths: 1818-1850 1067964 item 3-4

Condition of Original Registers—

Index: For an index to these records, see the Scottish Church Records Index on computer at the Family History Library and family history centers. Some of these records may be indexed and searchable on
Births: After 1745 no record appears to have been kept until 1801. In October 1801, the births of children were neglected to be registered, and numerous families were recorded in groups. Some entries go back as far as 1755. Evidence satisfactory to the Kirk Session was brought to prove these recordings. One page of entries for 1819–1840 is recorded after the marriages for 1740.
Marriages: There are no entries January 1740–May 1852.
Deaths: There are only a few death entries.
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 1852–1935
Note: Available at the Scottish National Archives, Edinburgh, record CH2/1163.

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.

Johnstone Free Church

In August 1843 supply was arranged for the adherents of the Free Church in this district. The charge was sanctioned in 1844. The first minister was ordained in the open air, on the bank of the river Annan. The congregation worshiped in tents and barns, until, finally, a site was secured, and church and manse were built in 1846.
Membership: 1848, 250; 1900, 207.
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.

Minutes 1843–1898
Deacons' Court Minutes 1846–1903
Note: Available at the Scottish National Archives, Edinburgh, record CH3/884.
Membership: In 1834 there were 27 Dissenters who attended services in neighboring parishes.

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

Johnstone 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. 584-592. Adapted. Date accessed: 20 March 2014.

Return to the Dumfriesshire parish list.