Kirkcudbright, Kirkcudbrightshire, Scotland Genealogy

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Kirkcudbright #871

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


Statistical Accounts of Scotland

The First Statistical Account of Scotland (pub. 1791-99) and the The New Statistical Account of Scotland (pub. 1834-45) offer 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 Kirkcudbright.

Both the First and the New Statistical Accounts are also available at the Family History Library.

Historical Sites within the Parish

A nice list of historical sites, buildings and artifacts within the parish is available online as part of the locally produced Dumfries & Galloway Gazetteer. Scroll down the page to Kirkcudbright. You can see photographs of some of these sites at the Scotlands Places website mentioned below under Photographs.


A large collection of over 700 photographs of historical buildings and sites around the parish is available online at Scotlands Places. This site pulls together Photographs of the built environment in The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland collection plus adds information from the National Archives of Scotland.


Armet, C.M. Kirkcudbright Town Council Records, 1576-1658. 3 vols. Edinburgh. 1939-1958

Armet,C.M. Kirkcudbright Sheriff Court Deeds to 1700. 3 vols. Edinburgh: 1939-1953

Collin, David R. Kirkcudbright: An Alphabetical Guide to its History. Kirkcudbright: The Stewartry Museum, Dumfries adn Galloway Museums Service. 2003

Collin, T. R. Bridging The Dee at Kirkcudbright. Kirkcudbright: The Stewartry Museum. 1981 - Bridge built in 1868, includes a list of subscribers to building. (28 pp.)

Gordon, Haig. The Kircudbrightshire Companion. Kirkcudbright: Galloway Publishing. 2008. Kirkcudbright - 84-92 pp. Book addresses many of the places and themes in the Shire.

Grove, Doreen. MacLellan's Castle: The Official Souvenir Guide. Edinburgh: Historic Scotland. 1997 revised 2009. (33 pp)

MacClellan, Late John. Record of the House of Kirkcudbright. Dumfries: J. Maxwell & Son. 1874, revised 1903, published 1906.

Macleod, I.F. Old Kirkcudbright: Descriptions, engravings, maps, photographs and walks. Glasgow: Old Galloway Papers No. 1. 1973. (31 pp.)

Macleod, Innes (ed). The People of Kirkcudbright in 1786 and 1788: The Visitation Lists of. Rev. Robert Muter. Kirkcudbright: The Stewartry Museum, Dumfries and Galloway Museums Service. 2002 (64 pp.) Gives names of inhabitants, head of household, often names wives including maiden name, then: number of sons; number of daughters; number of manservants or friends; number of female servants or friends. During early 19th C. following ministers added on interleaves further biographical and anecdotal information about the families. Indexed.

Mitchell, Alison. The Stewartry of Kirkcudbright Pre-1855 Monumental Inscriptions. Vol. 4. Edinburgh: Scottish Genealogy Society. 1995. Vol. 4 covers Kircudbright, Kirkgunzeon and Kirkpatrick Durham. Each burial ground is indexed with an accumulative index for the volume.

Penman, Alistair. Old Kirkcudbright. Catrine, Ayrshire: Stenlake Publishing. 1998. Old photographs with detailed captions. (48 pp).

Torrance, D. Richard. Kirkcudbright Burgesses: 1576-1975. Edinburgh: (author) 1997. (62 pp). 2 lists arranged alphabetically by surname. Details vary but usually given date of entry and occupation.

Burgess Records

Until 1832, anyone wishing to carry on a trade or exercise a craft within a royal burgh had to become a burgess. This involved the payment of fee, the swearing of an oath of loyalty and the sharing of responsibility for the protection and safe running of the burgh. There is a list of burgesses for Kircudbright for the period 1661-1975 at the Stewarty Museum in Kirkcudbright. An extended version of this list appears to have been published by Torrance.

Sources: Researching Local History: A Guide to Sources held by Dumfries and Galloway Council. 2009, Dumfries and Galloway Council.

Kirkcudbright Burgesses 1576-1975 by D. Richard Torrance. Edinburgh: (author?) 1997. 2 lists arranged alphabetically 1576-1699, 1700-1975, usally listing date of entry and occupation.

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 Kirkcudbright as well as the library numbers for any surname indexes available:

Years FHL Film Number  Surname Index          
1841      1042844 941.49 X22 vol.18
1851 1042552
1861 103842
1871 104007
1871 1067737 Item 2
1881 224057 6086610 ( 2 fiche)
1891 220455

The 1901 census of Scotland is indexed with images on  To use it, you must register and pay a small access fee. All available censuses, 1841-1911, are indexed on this website. It may be easier for you to pay to use the website rather than access indexes through the library. A free index to the 1851 census for Kirkcudbright, Dumfries and Galloway is available through the Dumfries and Galloway library at Name indexes have been added to for 1841 through 1891 with later indexes coming.  

Church Records

The Established Church of Scotland was Presbyterian. Read more about Scotland Church Records.

The existing Kirkcudbright Parish Church, formerly known as St. Cuthbert's Parish Church was designed by William Burn in 1835, the foundation stone was laid 22 April 1836, and opened for worship on 21 October 1838. The site of the church was called Castle Park, but generally known as Andrew Brown's Park and was donated to the church by the Earl of Selkirk, who also provided the £7,000 to build the church. The church is located at the corner of St. Cuthbert Street and St. Mary Street.

The original St. Cuthbert's Church was possibly built in the eigth or ninth century in what is now the churchyard at Angel Hill on the east side of the town. No traces of this church survive above ground.
Source: Kirkcudbright: An Alphabetical Guide to its History by David R. Collin. 2003, by The Stewartry Museum, Kirkcudbright.

Here are the pre-1855 records that exist for this parish.

Established Church—Old Parochial Registers

Years Covered FHL Film Number
Births: 1743-1854 1068032
Marriages: 1743-1805, 1820-1854 1068032
Deaths: 1783-1792, 1826-1853 1068032

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

A free transcript of the burial registers is provided online divided up into sections for:

1826-28 1829-30 1831-33 1834-38 1839-40 1841-42 1843-44 1845-53

The transcripts provide: date; year; surname; forename; information (wife of, son of, daughter of, etc);residence; sex; age; and cause of death. A Glossary of medical terms found in the register is provided along with the introduction to these transcripts.

Births: The record after October 1783 is tabulated.
Marriages: There is a double record October 1783–April 1791. Information after the latter date is limited to names and dates. There are no entries March 1804–1820 and 1823–April 1826.
Deaths: Burials; there are no entries November 1792–1826; 1834–1838 and 1846–1852, except one for 1850.
Source: Key to the Parochial Registers of Scotland, by V. Ben Bloxham, pub. 1970.Family History Library 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 1692–1704
Baptisms 1706–1708
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/520.

A photocopy of the Kirk Session Minutes for 1757-1900 are at the Stewartry Museum in Kirkcudbright.

Source: Researching Local History: A Guide to Sources held by Dumfries and Galloway Council. 2009, Dumfries and Galloway Council.

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.

Kirkcudbright Free Church

Kirkcudbright free church.jpg

Dr. John Macmillan, minister of the parish, and many of his congregation, "came out" in 1843. Largely through the liberality of friends in New York, church and manse were built in 1845–1846. A new church was built on the same site, with the foundation being laid in 1872, and opening for worship 26 March 1874. The church hall was added at the rear in 1886. A merger with the United Presbyterian Church occurred in 1900 and the two congregations worshipped in St. Mary's Church from 1914. In 1929 St. Mary's Church became known as St. Mary's Parish Church of Scotland. The church was later declared redundent and converted to housing, with the church hall later being demolished and replaced with new housing. St. Mary's Church, currently (2009) is used for housing and is on the corner of St. Mary Street and Gladstone Place.
Membership: 1848, 430; 1900, 470.
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 including lists of ministers.

Kirkcudbright: An Alphabetical Guide to its History by David R. Collin. 2003 by The Stewartry Museum, Kirkcudbright.

Minutes 1844–1921
Deacons' Court Minutes 1845–1901
Baptismal Register 1843–1876
Communion Roll 1846–1847
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH3/588.

Kirkcudbright Associate, later United Presbyterian Church

This congregation originated in the dissatisfaction felt by a number of the parishioners with the doctrine taught in the parish church. They applied for and obtained supply of sermon from the Associate Presbytery of Annan in 1818. The congregation was formed 16 April 1820 and a church built at the corner of the High Street opposite the Tolbooth, in 2009 the building is an antique store.  In 1865 the Associate Church became known as the United Presbyterian Church, purchasing a manse and garden at 42 High Street. The original site did not allow for expansion so a site was acquired in St. Cuthbert Street and opened for worship 14 July 1880. The United Presbyterian Church merged with the Free Church in 1900 and in 1914 the two congregations merged under the name of the United Free Church. The church later became Kirvudbright's cinema and was demolished in 1971 to build a supermarket.
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 including lists of ministers.

Kirkcudbright: An Alphabetical Guide to its History by David R. Collin. 2003 by The Stewartry Museum, Kirkcudbright.

Minutes 1820–1865, 1869–1914
Young Communicants 1821–1843
Congregational and Managers Minutes 1847–1914
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH3/589.

Kirkcudbright Roman Catholic Church

This church was founded in 1839. The Statistical Account of the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright 1844, states that there were within the parish 200 Roman Catholics.There is conflicting information here for Collin states that the Catholic communitiy first gained their own place of worship in 1845 with the purchase of Nos. 43,45 and 47 St. Cuthbert Street  where they converted the top floors into a small chapel, completing the work in 1846. The congregation eventually outgrew this facility building St. Andrew and St. Cuthbert Church and opening for worship on 26 December 1886. The church was extended in 1886 and modernized in 1971.

Location - The Church is access from High Streetby the narrow street next to the Police Station and library.

Source: Kirkcudbright: An Alphabetical Guide to its History by David R. Collin. 2003 by The Stewartry Museum, Kirkcudbright.

Baptisms 1852–1868
Marriages 1852–1868

For information write to:
St. Andrew and St. Cuthbert’s Catholic Church
High Street
Kirkcudbright DG6 4JW

For earlier records, see Dalbeattie.

Episcopal Church
Greyfriars espiscopal church.jpg

History - In 1878 the Episcopal Church was refounded in Kirkcudbright. The congregation built The Iron Church, affectionately known as 'The Wee Tin Kirk', which occupied the site on the west side of St. Mary's Street now occupied by the Fire Station. Some time between 1919 and 1923 the Castle School was converted to meet the needs of the congregation. The small GreyFriars Episcopal Church is at the junction of Castle Street and Saint Cuthbert Street.

Source: Kirkcudbright: An Alphabetical Guide to its History by David R. Collin. 2003 by The Stewartry Museum, Kirkcudbright.

Records: 1886-1997, originals at the Stewartry Museum in Kirkcudbright.

Source: Researching Local History: A Guide to Sources held by Dumfries and Galloway Council. 2009, Dumfries and Galloway Council.

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.


1684 Plan of the Town and Bay of Kirkoubright [Kirkcudbright]

Plan was presented to the Board of Ordnance by Theodore Dury, 1711. It shows buildings, ships and cliffs in perspective. Title on decorative cartouche. Reference notes on depths and navigation. Approximate scale: 1 inch to 180 Scotch ells (3 feet 1 inch to the ell). Scale of 1:6660.

The original is at The National Archives, Kew. Current catalog entry is MPHH1/37 although originally the map was in WO78/1837. The map does not appear in the online catalog when searching on Kirkcudbright. Map was found by referring to the PRO Guide to Maps [Proper title?]. The original is 55.4 cm x 132.8 cm and so is large and difficult to photograph. Much of the map shows the bay rather than the town which is at the left edge of the map but still provides an early portrayal of the town.

1792 Ian Gillone's Map of the Parish of Kircudbright

Extract from map showing Kircudbright, Kircudbright Bay and St. Mary's Isle on which, where the paths cross, in the 'seat', the mansion of house, of the Earl of Selkirk. Reproduced p. 64 in John Paul Jones: Maverick Hero by Frank Walker. Drexel Hill, PA: Casemate. 2008.

1832 Great Reform Act Map and Report for Town of Kirkcudbright

This plan at 6 inches to the mile shows the new boundaries of the town. Note the layout of the streets and the absence of many buildings that will soon show up on the maps, such as the Established Church, Free Church.

The report associated with this map verbally describes the proposed and executed new boundaries to the town. It also supplies from the 1821 and 1831 census population numbers, house numbers, house valuations and tax assessment values.

1843 John Woods Plan of Town of Kirkcudbright

This plan published in 1843, though it is not clear when the survey was carried out, is very important for it clearly shows the individual houses and provides names or initials for each property. It needs to be determined if these are the owners or the occupiers.

1850 Town Plan of Kirkcudbright

This town plan was surveyed in 1850 at a scale of 1:1650. You can zoom in on the details of the houses in the town, showing how the gardens are laid out. It even shows the internal layout of the Established Church, the newly built Free Church of Scotland, the Free School, etc. Zoom in to see the details.

1855 Twenty-Five Inch 1st Series Ordnance Survey Map

This map does not exist for Kirkcudbright as this part of Scotland was not included in this series.

1857 One-Inch 1st Series Ordnance Survey Map

This map is sheet 5 of 131 sheets of the One-inch to one mile 1st Series Ordnance Survey Map, surveyed between 1847 and 1850, published in 1857. The parish boundary is a series of heavy black dots (contour lines are a lighter series of dots) - see 1895 map for clearer parish boundaries. You can zoom in on this map to see the details.

1893 4 Sheet Town Plan of Kirkcudbright

These four sheets surveyed at in 1893 at the detailed scale of 1:500 showing the outlines of houses, layouts of the gardens, passageways. Note the presence of a boys and girls school in what is now the Episcopal Church of Scotland. Key church and civil buildings are identified. Select the sheet you need for the part of the town researching and then zoom in for details.

1895 Twenty-Five Inch 2nd Series Ordnance Survey Map

This sheet for the town area does not seem as detailed as I would ahve expected for this scale. Adjoing sheets will be needed for sections outside the town.

1895 One-Inch 2nd Series Ordnance Survey Map

This map is sheet 5 of 131 sheets of the 1895 One-inch to one mile 2nd Series Ordnance Survey Map revised in 1895 and published in 1896. What is particularly useful about this map is that each parish is colored separately so that you can easily see where the parish boundaries are on the ground and how close your locality is to the parish boundary. You can zoom in on this map to see the details.

1905 One-Inch 3rd Series Ordnance Survey Map

This sheet is sheet 5 of 131, published in 1905. The parish boundaries on this map are shown as a fine dotted line. Look at the 2nd Series map first to get a sense of where the boundary should be.

1912 Batholomew Atlas - Wigtown Map

Kirkcudbright appears to the bottom right of the Wigtown map. The map shows the roads and the railway coming into the parish and town of Kirkcudbright. Good for showing the parish in a regional context.


The primary museum for the town and for the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright is the Stewartry Museum, which is part of the Dumfries and Galloway Museums Service.

Stewartry museum kirkcudbright.jpg

The Stewartry Museum
St Mary Street
Tel: 01557 331643

The Stewartry Museum information page provides brief history of museum and opening hours. This is a free museum to visit.

The director of the museum David Devereux PhD MIFA FSA Scot and his staff are very knowledgable and helpful both via email and in person.

Poor Relief

In 1847 responsibility for the Poor transferred from the Kirk Session to the newly formed Parochial Boards. One of their first tasks was to carry out an assessment to raise funds to pay for the poor. An assessment was made. A public meeting was held on 17 April 1848 for people to contest their assessment. The minutes of that meeting survive and those contesting their assessment providing their names, often occupation, amount and reason for contesting, and how it was settled. These minutes are online. Note that those not contesting and their assessment are not identified. Almost 100 individuals state there case and are recorded here.

In 1848 a committee was formed to work on buuilding a Poor House. This house was built on land belonging to the Earl of Selkirk, and began operation 20th Janauary 1851. The building later became known as Burnside House and continued to be operated by the Board for the Combination Poor House until new legislation in 1930 turned it over to the Department of Health, then part of the County Concil. It closed in 1949 and the building was demolished soon after. The land is now occupied by the Drunblane Housing Estate. More information on the Poor House and extracts of the occupants from the census can be found at Old Kirkcudbright. Note that Board minutes survive from 1848 to 1930 at the Ewart Library in Dumfries, but these rarely mention inmates. 

Probate Records

Kirkcudbright 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.

Tax Records

Farm Horse Tax Rolls

These taxes located in the National Archives of Scotland (NAS E326/10) were collected on horses and mules used in husbandry or trade in 1797-1798. The list for the parish of Kirkcudbright identifies: the Masters and Mistresses with names and designations (could be title, place or both); actual number of horses; horses liable to duty; horses not liable; and duty. It appears that the tax collector visited the parish twice to collect the tax from people who had not paid. The duty is 2 shillings and 3 pence for nine months per horse.

In the first list the parish of Kirkcudbright starts half way down the page and it is necessary to turn the page twice to get the full listing.

In the second listing the parish occupies two pages.

Valuation Rolls

Give assessed annual rental value of all properties within a burgh or county. For Kirkcudbright Burgh the rolls are for 1925 to 1960, with gaps with the records at the Stewartry Museum, Kirkcudbright. Note - the Royal Burghs, which includes Kirkcudbright Burgh are specifically excluded from the valuation rolls. This means that property in the Burgh will not be included in the earlier rolls, but property outside the Burgh, but within the parish will be included in earlier rolls. These rolls for the Stewartry of Kircudbrightshire survive in different locations, and in some cases images of the rolls are available online:

Stewarty Museum: 1777, 1799, 1819, 1867-1910 [with gaps]

Ewart Library, Dumfries: There is a pre-1799 tax roll (published in 1819 to justify the current taxes), 1819, 1859 - first to name proprietors and occupiers, 1878, 1885-1975 [with gaps]

Dumfries Archive Centre, Dumfries: 1819, 1859-1860, 1888-1889, 1911-1912, 1949-1950

Source: Researching Local History: A Guide to Sources held by Dumfries and Galloway Council. 2009, Dumfries and Galloway Council.

Trade Records

Kirkcudbright Burgh Ale Certificates 1832-1864 at Stewartry Museum, Kirkcudbright

Kirkcudbright Burgh Harbour Committee records, 1901-1979 at Stewartry Museum, Kirkcudbright

Source: Researching Local History: A Guide to Sources held by Dumfries and Galloway Council. 2009, Dumfries and Galloway Council.

Voter Records

Kirkcudbright Burgh Voter's Rolls - 1833, 1850, 1851, 1853 at Ewart Library, Dumfries

Kirkcudbright Burgh Register of Qualified Voters - 1832-1856 at Stewartry Museum, Kirkcudbright

Kirkcudbright Burgh Municipal Polling Book - 1833-1871 at Stewarty Museum, Kirkcudbright

Source: Researching Local History: A Guide to Sources held by Dumfries and Galloway Council. 2009, Dumfries and Galloway Council.

Return to the Kirkcudbrightshire parish  list.