Ruthwell, Dumfriesshire, Scotland Genealogy

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Scotland Gotoarrow.png Dumfriesshire, Scotland Gotoarrow.png Ruthwell

Parish #846

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



RUTHWELL, a parish, in the county of Dumfries containing the village of Clarencefield, 7½ miles (W. by N.) from Annan. Ruthwell, most probably corrupted from Ruthwald, or Rithwald, is a modern name, and appears to be derived from the Anglo-Saxon Rith, "a rivulet," and Weald or Wald, "a woody place;" terms descriptive of the locality through which a rivulet passes contiguous to the church and village, and in which there are extensive natural woods. The church, an ancient edifice, was formerly a very indifferent building thatched with heath, but has been greatly altered and improved, and is now in good condition; it contains 420 sittings. The members of the Free Church have no place of worship.[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 Ruthwell.  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 Ruthwell.

Below is information for any known surname indexes:


Years Surname Index          
1841 941.48/R1 X22d 1841
1851 941.48/R1 X2m 1851
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 Numbuer
Births: 1723-1854 1067970 item 5-6
Marriages: 1844-1854 1067970 item 5-6
Deaths: 1773-1775 1067970 item 5-6

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: There are numerous blank spaces prior to 1756 and 1782–1802. Prior to 1756 there are only seven entries between 1723 and July 1748. On pages 9, 14, 17, 25, and 28–30 entries have been partially deleted with ink.
Marriages: There is only one entry for 1807and no records until May 1844.
Deaths: All death entries are on one page.
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 1843–1958
Census of Inhabitants of Ruthwell 1840–1843
Note: Available at the Scottish National Archives, Edinburgh, record CH2/1155.

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.

Ruthwell Free Church

The minister of the parish and many of his congregation "came out" at the Disruption. Others from the district joined them. At first the congregation worshiped in the open air. The church was built at Mount Kedar and opened in October 1843. A church was reconstructed in 1859, and reseated in 1893. The membership was reduced by the founding of Dalton church, and also in consequence of serious decrease of the population. They were originally connected with Lockerbie Presbytery. In 1847 the congregation was transferred to Dumfries.
Membership: 1848, 200; 1900, 128.
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 1844–1904
Deacons' Court Minutes and Accounts 1844–1934
Collections, Contributions and Disbursements 1843–1844
Note: Available at the Scottish National Archives, Edinburgh, record CH3/1174.

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

Ruthwell 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. 443-445. Adapted. Date accessed: 21 March 2014.

Return to the Dumfriesshire parish list.