South Knapdale, Argyllshire, Scotland Genealogy

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Parish #533

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

History[edit | edit source]

KNAPDALE, SOUTH, a parish, in the district and county of Argyll, 13 miles (N. by W.) from Tarbert; containing a portion of the quoad sacra district of Lochgilphead. The Gaelic term that gives name to this place consists of the two words knap, a hill, and daill, a plain, field, or dale, and is descriptive of the general appearance of the surface, which is marked by numerous hills and dales. The parish was formed at the same time as that of North Knapdale, in 1734. There are two churches, the one situated at Achoish, and the other at Inverneill, both built about the year 1775, and repaired a few years since; they are seated respectively for 212 and 300 persons.[1]

The district of Knapdale is divided into two parishes, the one north, the other south.  Tarbert, and  Lochgilphead are the nearest towns.   Lochcaolisport is an arm of the Atlantic, which intersects the western part of the parish.  The major land owners were: Duncan Campbell, Esq. of Inverneill and Knap; Alexander Campbell, Esq. of Achindarroch; and John Graham Campbell, Esq. of Shirvain.  The land was primarily used for black-cattle, barley, oats, potatoes, beans, turnips, herring fishery, and sheep.  The population in 1772 was 1600.  The population in 1841 was 1537.  The parish registers have been kept since 1771,  though entries appear to have been correctly made, the book containing the registrations has not been well taken care of.  Some of the leaves having been lost, and the whole much sullied.  There are two churches in the parish.  "Pauperism is increasing daily."
This account was written in 1840.

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 South Knapdale. 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 South Knapdale as well as the library numbers for any surname indexes available:

Years FHL Film Number Surname Index
1841 1042719 941.38/S2 X22g 1841
1851 1042354 941.39 X2a
1861 103797
1871 103954
1881 203561 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: 1771-1854 1041077 items 1-2
Marriages: 1771-1854 1041077 items 1-2
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: A page is imperfect and two entries nearly destroyed after October 1789. Four entries are imperfect after March 1804. Supplementary entries appear 1803–1824 on seven pages at the end of 1819. An imperfect draft appears 1778–1791 after marriage entries of 1819.
Marriages: There are no entries August 1774–April 1778. All the entries indicate that the parties were "registrated for marriage." There is an imperfect draft for births of 1775–1792 after the record of marriage for 1819.
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:

No pre-1855 records are available.

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.

No churches with pre-1855 records are available.

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]

South Knapdale 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: 30 May 2014.

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