Kells, Kirkcudbrightshire, Scotland Genealogy

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Scotland Gotoarrow.png Kirkcudbrightshire Gotoarrow.png Kells

Kells  #868

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


KELLS, a parish, in the stewartry of Kirkcudbright, 14 miles (N. W. by N.) from Castle-Douglas, and 19 (N. by W.) from Kirkcudbright containing the burgh of New Galloway. This place is supposed by some to derive its name from its elevated situation, of which, in the Gaelic language, the word is descriptive; others deduce it from the British Cell, on account of the extensive woods formerly existing here. The parish, which is one of the largest in the county, is bounded on the west and south by the river Dee. The church, erected in 1822, is a handsome structure in the early English style of architecture, with a square embattled tower; it contains 560 sittings.[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  Click on ‘Browse scanned pages’ then search the parish reports for Kells. 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 Kells as well as the library numbers for any surname indexes available:


Years FHL Film Number Surname Index          
1841 1042844 941.49 X22 vol 13
1851 1042552
1861 103842
1871 104007
1881 224056 6086610 ( 2 fiche)
1891 220454

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 FHL Film Number
Births: 1698-1854 1067975
Marriages: 1698-1854 1067975
Deaths: 1828-1854 1067975

Condition of Original Registers—

Indexed: For an index to these records, see the Scottish Church Records Index on computer at the Family History Library and family history centers.  Some records may be indexed in the
Births: There are no entries October 1699–December 1730, except a few entries, 1713–1725, are recorded in 1732; April 1734–February 1736; November 1737–April 1741, except two entries, for 1739; September 1749–April 1751. There are irregular entries 1715–1745 on page 128 and entries 1724–1742 on pages131–132. Mothers' names are not recorded until 1768.
Marriages: There are no entries June 1699–December 1730 and May 1733–May 1806, except two, for 1706. The entries prior to 1733 are recorded on occasional pages of the register of births.
Deaths: There is no record prior to January 1828. There are no entries August 1830–1843, inclusive.
Source: Key to the Parochial Registers of Scotland, by V. Ben Bloxham, pub. 1970. FHL 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 1693–1730
Mortcloth, etc., 1731–1812, 1826–1828
Poors' Funds, 1813–1817, 1826–1835, 1855–1957
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/202.

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.

There are no known nonconformist groups.

Note: Wilson’s Gazetteer of Scotland 1882 states that there were churches for the Free Presbyterians and the United Presbyterians within this parish, but no histories are available; 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

Kells was under the probate jurisdiction of the Commissary Court of Kirkcudbright until 1823, and since then has been under the Sheriff's Court of Kirkcudbright.  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 Kirkcudbright and the subject of 'Probate records.' Then click on the link to the records of the Commissariat of Kirkcudbright.
The library also has some post-1823 probate records for Kirkcudbright.  Look in the library catalog for the 'Place-names' of Kirkcudbright 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. 1-22. Adapted. Date accessed: 13 March 2014.

Return to the Kirkcudbrightshire parish list.