Kirkcowan, Wigtownshire, Scotland Genealogy

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Parish  #888

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


History[edit | edit source]

KIRKCOWAN, a parish and village with railway station in Wigtown-Shire on Tarf Water, 6 miles south-west of Newton-Stewart.[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 Kirkcowan. 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 census records.

Click here[low quality link] to go to the Family History Library Catalog entry for the census records of Kirkcowan.  The Family History Library also has a surname index for the 1881 census of the whole of Wigtonshire.

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 church records.

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

Established Church—Old Parochial Registers[edit | edit source]

Years Covered Family Hhistory Library Film Number
Births: 1788-1854 1068037 items 3-4
Marriages: 1832-1854 1068037 items 3-4
Deaths: None entries
Condition of Original Registers[edit | edit source]

Index: 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
Births: There are only two entries prior to January 1792. It appears that the early session books of this parish were destroyed by fire.
There does not seem to be an extant record before 1832.
Source: Key to the Parochial Registers of Scotland, by V. Ben Bloxham, pub. 1970. British 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 he 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 1719–1727, 1826–1900
Communion Roll 1849–1852
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/226.

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 List.

Kirkowan Secession Church Records[edit | edit source]

Dissenting ministers of various denominations had been in the habit of preaching in Kirkcowan for a considerable time prior to 1837. In that year the persons accustomed to attend their ministrations applied for and obtained regular supply from the United Associate Presbytery of Wigtown. They purchased a dwelling house and had it fitted up as a place of worship. A new church was opened in 1862.
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

Minutes 1840–1858, 1861–1936
Notebook Containing Minutes 1838–1841
Baptisms 1838–1842
Marriages 1839–1842
Deaths 1844–1854
List of Members 1838–1844.
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH3/871.

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]

Kirkcowan was under the probate jurisdiction of the Commissary Court of Wigtown until 1823, and since then has been under the Sheriff's Court of Wigtown. 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 Wigtown and the subject of 'Probate records.' Then click on the link to the records of the Commissariat of Wigtown.

The library also has some post-1823 probate records for Aberdeen.  Look in the library catalog for the 'Place-names' of Aberdeen and the subjects of 'Probate Records' and 'Probate Records - Indexes.'

Read more about Scotland Probate Records.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Bartholemew, John, Gazetteer of the British Isles published in 1887. Adapted. Date accessed March 6, 2014.


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