Port-Glasgow, Renfrewshire, Scotland Genealogy

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Port-Glasgow (#574)

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


History[edit | edit source]

PORT-GLASGOW, a parish, sea-port, burgh, and market-town, in the Lower ward of the county of Renfrew, 19 miles (W. N. W.) from Glasgow, and 62 (W.) from Edinburgh. This place was originally part of the parish of Kilmalcolm, constituting the village of Newark, situated on the bay of that name. The present church was erected in 1823. It is a plain neat edifice, and is adapted for a congregation of 1200 persons. There is also a chapel of ease, erected in 1774, and adapted for a congregation of 1500. A parochial missionary was until very recently engaged by the members of the Established Church; and there are a Free church, and a place of worship for the Associate Synod.[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 http://edina.ac.uk/stat-acc-scot/.  Click on ‘Browse scanned pages’ then search the parish reports for Port-Glasgow.  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.

Here is a list of the Family History Library microfilm numbers for the census records of Port-Glasgow as well as the library numbers for any surname indexes available:


Years FHL Film Number Surname Index               
1841 1042730 CD-ROM no. 3820
1851 1042369 CD-ROM no. 3817
1851 1042370
1861 1042370
1871 104089
1881 203586 6086652 (set of 11 fiche)
1891 220201
1891 220202

The 1901 census of Scotland is indexed on www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk.  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]

Event Type Years Covered FHL Film Number
Births: 1696-1768 - baptisms 1041323
1769-1819 1041324
1819-1855 1041325
1820-1854 - index 1041325
Marriages: 1696-1764 1041324
1764-1854 1041325
Deaths: No entries

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: The portion from June 1719–June 1727 is in the form of a small memorandum book. The record throughout appears to have been kept with care.
Marriages: From February 1723–January 1817, the record is one of proclamations chiefly. After February 1817, the date of marriage is often added to the entries.
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 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 1731–1884
Poors’ Fund 1697–1700
Record of Lairs (burial plots) 1830–1847
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/303.

Newark Chapel of Ease
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Managers’ Minutes and Accounts 1803–1845
Managers’ Minutes and Trustees’ Minutes 1845–1898
Managers’ Minutes 1778–1790, 1794–1802
Accounts 1772–1778
Treasurers’ Accounts 1772–1802
Communion Roll 1852–1866
Seat Rents 1772–1802
Accounts of lairs (burial plots) 1778–1802
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/1394.

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.

Port Glasgow Associate, Princes Street, Burgher Presbyterian Church
[edit | edit source]

Several parishioners withdrew from the Established Church in 1737 and acceded to the Associate Presbytery. Along with Seceders in Greenock, Innerkip, Bilmalcolm, Bilbarchan and Lochwinnoch, they helped to form the congregation of Burntshields. When the congregation of Cartsdyke, Greenock, was disjoined from Burntshields, the Port Glasgow Seceders were included in it. In 1790, they petitioned the Presbytery to be disjoined from Greenock and formed into a separate congregation, which was initially opposed, but eventually granted. A church was built in 1791 and rebuilt in 1865. In 1835/6, membership was about 400, of which most of that number lived within the parish.
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 a list of ministers.

Minutes 1792–1810, 1837–1862
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/700.

Port Glasgow Reformed Presbyterian Church
[edit | edit source]

As a result of disjunctions and depopulation of the district, the church at Kilmalcolm was moved to Port Glasgow in 1854 and a new church was built. Membership in 1873 stood at 210. After a gallery was added to the church, membership rose to 285 within three years. In 1905 the congregation united with another local congregation to form Newark United Free Church. The congregation apparently ceased sometime after 1925.
Source: The Reformed Presbyterian Church in Scotland, by W.J. Couper, pub. 1925. FHL 941 K2c. Source includes ministers.

Building Fund Cash Book 1854–1858
Miscellaneous Papers 19th century
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH3/1134.

Port Glasgow Free Church, Hamilton
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The minister of the “quoad sacra” church in Port Glasgow “came out” in 1843, and formed a congregation of adherents of the Free Church. Church and manse were erected.
Membership: 1848, 430; 1900, 558
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 a list of ministers.

Extent of the records is unknown.

Port Glasgow Roman Catholic Church
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In 1835–1836, there were 332 Catholics within the parish. They likely attended services in Greenock until they were organized. St. John’s church was consecrated in 1854.

Baptisms 1845–1878
Marriages 1846–1876
Note: Available online for a fee, at www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk, record RH21/9.

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]

Port-Glasgow was under the probate jurisdiction of the Commissary Court of Glasgow until 1823, and since then has been under the Sheriff's Court of Paisley.  Probate records for 1513- 1901 are indexed online at www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk.  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 Renfrew and the subject of 'Probate records.' Then click on the link to the records of the Commissariat of Paisley.

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

Read more about Scotland Probate Records.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Lewis, Samuel A., A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland (1846), pp. 367-388. Adapted. Date accessed: 21 February 2014.


Return to the Renfrewshire parish list.