Saddell and Skipness, Argyllshire, Scotland Genealogy

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Parish #531

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


History[edit | edit source]

SADDELL and SKIPNESS, a parish, in the district of Cantyre, county of Argyll; respectively 19 and 32 miles (N. by E.) from Campbelltown. The name of the first of these places has been at different times written in ancient documents Saundle, Sandel, and Sandale, signifying in the Scandinavian language "a sandy plain." The term Skipness, in the same language, means "a ship-point," and was used in reference to the place on account of its having been a central station for the rendezvous of the northern fleets, during the period of their attacks upon this coast. The two districts, the former having been disjoined from Killean, and the latter from Kilcalmonell, were united in 1753. There are two parish churches, thirteen miles apart, one situated at Carradale, and in good repair, and the other at Claonaig, which is in a dilapidated state: they accommodate respectively 354 and 288 persons.[1]

     Saddell disjoined from the parish of Killean and Skipness from Kilcalmonell, and  were erected into a United Parish in 1753.  Somerled was buried here after his defeat against Malcolm IV in 1158.  The major land owners were: Captain Walter Campbell of Skipness; Mr. Lauchlain Macniel Campbell of Kinlarbert; and Mr. Richard Campbell of Achnabeck.  The land was primarily used for Salmon Fisheries and potatoes.  The population in 1792 was 1431.  The population in 1841 was 1798.   Of late years the registers were kept with great accuracy but formerly were much neglected.   There are two church buildings in the parich.
This account was written in 1843.

Source: New Statistical Account of Scotland (FHL book 941 B4sa, series 2 vol.7)


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 Saddell and Skipness. 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 Saddell and Skipness as well as the library numbers for any surname indexes available:


Years FHL Film Number Surname Index            
1841 1042718
1851 1042354 941.39 X2a
1861 103797
1871 103954
1881 203560 6086508 (set of 4 Fiche)
1891 220171

The 1901 and 1911 census of Scotland is indexed 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.

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 FHL Film Number
Births: 1756-1854 - Saddell 1041076 items 1-3
1783-1854 - Skipness 1041076 items 1-3
Marriages: 1798-1854 - Saddell 1041076 items 1-3
1801-1854 - Skipness 1041076 items 1-3
Deaths: No entries

Condition of Original Records[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 Scotland.
Births: Saddell South Division: no entries exist for 1761, and the record is incomplete 1772–1773. Mothers' names are not recorded.
Skipness: three irregular entries occur 1771–1780 and 1783 on flyleaf. Ten similar entries appear 1808–1828, one family, after July 1800. Mothers' names are recorded.
Marriages: Skipness South Division: proclamations are recorded and appear to be regularly kept.
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:

Skipness Minutes and Accounts 1783–1833
Note: Available at the Scottish National Archives, Edinburgh, record CH2/632.

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.


Carradale and Skipness Free Church[edit | edit source]

Several families in the parish of Saddell and Skipness formed the nucleus of a congregation in 1843. A year later a minister was appointed to preach at Skipness and Kilberry. After Kilberry was sanctioned, separate services were begun for Skipness and Carradale in 1863. Church and manse were built at Carradale in 1887 and the church at Skipness in 1892. Comparative failure of the fishing industry worked against the development of the congregation.
Membership: 1891, 71; 1900, 104.
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 ministers.

No known pre-1855 records exist.

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]

Saddell and Skipness was under the probate jurisdiction of the Commissary Court of Argyll until 1823, and since then has been under the Sheriff's Court of Dunoon.  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 Argyll and the subject of 'Probate records.' Then click on the link to the records of the Commissariat of Argyll
The library also has some post-1823 probate records for Argyll.  Look in the library catalog for the 'Place-names' of Argyll 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. 499-514. Adapted. Date accessed: 23 May 2014.

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