Sorbie, Wigtownshire, Scotland Genealogy

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Parish #897

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

History[edit | edit source]

SORBIE, a parish, in the district of Machers, county of Wigton, 6 miles (S.) from Wigton containing the villages of Garliestown and Sorbie. This place comprehends the three ancient parishes of Sorbie, Kirkmadrine, and Cruggleton, which were united about the middle of the 17th century. It is supposed to have derived its name, originally Sourby, signifying in the Saxon language "a gloomy habitation," from the situation of its castle on the confines of a cold and dreary marsh that has been since drained and brought under cultivation. The parish is bounded on the east by Wigton bay. The church, situated in the village, was rebuilt in 1750, and repaired in 1826; it is a neat substantial structure containing 500 sittings. The members of the Free Church have a place of worship; and there is a place of worship at Garliestown for Independents.[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 Sorbie. 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. The Scottish government began taking censuses of the population in 1801 but only those from 1841 on list all members of a 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 Sorbie.  The Family History Library also has a surname index for the 1841 census of Sorbie as well as 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 FHL Film Number
Births: 1700-1854 1068041  items 2-3
Marriages: 1700-1854 1068041  items 2-3
Deaths: 1706-1716 1068041  items 2-3
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 be indexed in the Births: There are no entries July 1721–January 1739 and the record is incomplete 1739–1745 inclusive. The portion 1761–1771 is in the form of a small memorandum book. No entries, except one page of entries, April 1773–January 1774, July 1771–September 1789 and June 1790–June 1794, except twelve irregular entries, 1787–1806.
Marriages: There are no entries June 1721–June 1794 and November 1814–June 1816.
Deaths: The records are Mortcloth Dues intermixed with other matters. Two entries of deaths, dated 1813 and 1818.
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 1700–1702, 1829–1856
Poors’ Account 1797–1821
Accounts 1845–1863
Loose Cash Records 1765–1775
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/332.

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.

Sorbie Free Church, at Garlieston[edit | edit source]

Dr. Alexander Forrester, assistant minister of the parish, and about half the members of the congregation, “came out” in 1843. Dr. Forrester was the only minister in Wigtown Presbytery who left the establishment. On him, therefore, it fell at first to form and organize the Free Churches within the bounds. A site for a church was refused by the principal proprietors. David Rodger, a member purchased a feu in the village of Sorbie and gave it to the congregation. There the church was built in 1844 and the manse in 1848. The church was renovated in 1873.
Membership: 1848, 300; 1900, 121.
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.

Extent of records is unknown.

Garlieston Congregational Church[edit | edit source]

This church was founded in 1803 as a result of the evangelistic labors of James Haldane and John Aikman. The church was erected in 1804 on the property of the Earl of Galloway. It was very simple with earthen floors. A non-denominational Sunday school was opened sometime later. The first minister was Thomas Smith, 1803–1829.
Source: A History of Scottish Congregationalism, by Harry Escott, pub. Glasgow, 1960 FHL book 941 K2es. This source gives a full list of ministers

The extent of records is unknown. Contact:
The United Reformed Church, Scottish Synod Office
PO Box 189
240 Cathedral Street
Glasgow G1 2BX

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]

Sorbie 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' 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 Wigtown. Look in the library catalog for the 'Place' of Wigtown 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. 467-489. Adapted. Date accessed: 07 March 2014.

Return to the Wigtownshire parish list.