Balmaghie, Kirkcudbrightshire, Scotland Genealogy

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Parish #857a

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

History[edit | edit source]

BALMAGHIE, a parish, in the stewartry of Kirkcudbright, 4 miles (N. W.) from Castle-Douglas containing the village of Laurieston and Bridge of Dee. This place takes its name from its ancient proprietors, the Mc Gies, whose ancestor, an Irish chieftain, settled here at a very remote period, and whose descendants retained possession of the chief lands for many generations. The parish, which is situated nearly in the centre of the county, is bounded on the north by the Blackwater of Dee, and on the east by the river Dee. The church, built in 1794, is situated near the Dee; it is in good repair, and contains 400 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 Balmaghie. Also available at the Family History Library.

Census Records[edit | edit source]

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

Click here for index for 1792

Years FHL Film Number Surname Index        
1841     1042833 941.49 X22d v. 3
1851 1042551 941.49/B1 X2m 1851
1861 103841
1871 104006
1881 224055 6086610 ( 2 fiche)
1891 220452

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[edit | edit source]

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[edit | edit source]

Years Covered Family History Library Film Number
Births: 1768-1854 1067973
Marriages: 1805-1854 1067973
Deaths: No entries 1067973
Condition of Original Registers[edit | edit source]

Indexed: 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 records may also be indexed in other FamilySearch collections for Scotland.
Births: There are no entries, except three, 1771–1773 May 1770–December 1804.
Marriages: No record seems to have been kept until 1805. There are no entries September 1838–October 1839.
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[edit | edit source]

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 1768–1777, 1839–1938
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/27.

Nonconformist Church Records[edit | edit source]

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.

General Statement:
The Statistical Account of Scotland, dated 1844, FHL British Book 941 B4sa Ser. 2, vol. 4 pt. 2, states that at that time there were 112 Roman Catholics, 22 Episcopalians, 11 members of the Reformed church, and 3 families of the United Associate church living within the parish. As there were no church buildings for them within the parish, they would have attended church in neighboring parishes and towns. The Free Church congregation would have been formed after this time.

Free Church[edit | edit source]

A Free Church congregation was organized in the village of Laurieston and a church building erected in 1845. There was difficulty in obtaining the services of a suitable agent; but satisfactory progress was made, and the charge was sanctioned in 1855. A manse was also provided.
Membership: 1859, 71; 1900, 55.
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.

Minutes 1852–1949
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH3/1246.

Civil Registration Records[edit | edit source]

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[edit | edit source]

Balmaghie 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.

[edit | edit source]

  1. Lewis, Samuel A., A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland (1846), pp. 91-101. Adapted. Date accessed: 07 March 2014.

Return to the Kirkcudbrightshire Parish list.