Wigtownshire Pages: Census Records

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Wigtownshire Census Records

  Census Dates     1841     1851     1861 - 1871     1881  
  1881 strays     1891     1901     Urquhart     Sct. Free Census  

The recording of Census information began in 1801 in the UK, though until 1841 returns did not list names and other data pertinent to the genealogist. Census records from 1841 to 1901 can be found at the General Register Office in Edinburgh. Microfilmed copies for 1841 to 1901 can be viewed through LDS Family History Centers worldwide. The GRO office has a computerized index available for public use for the 1881 and 1891 returns. As well, for a fee, the indexes and images for the 1891-1901 can be accessed online through Scotland's People.

Please remember that census records are subject to a 100 year closure. More in depth information about UK census can be found at British-genealogy.

Census dates in Scotland

The New Register House lists these dates
1841 - June 7 1901 - March 31 1961 - April 23
1851 - March 31 1911 - April 3 1971 - April 25
1861 - April 8 1921 - June 19 1981 - April 5
1871 - April 3 1931 - April 26 1991 - April 21
1881 - April 4 1941 - no Census 2001 - April 30
1891 - April 6 1951 - April 8  

1841 Census

The 1841 Census is today available on the FreeCen site http://freecen.rootsweb.com/cgi/search.pl and the D&G FHS has also transcribed the 1841 census, and has published a surname index for each parish. For a very modest fee, booklets can be purchased online through the D&G FHS site.

D&G FHS 1841 Booklets
Glenluce Village
Inch (landward)
Leswalt (landward)
New Luce
Newton Stewart
Old Luce
Portpatrick Parish
Portpatrick Village
Sorbie (excluding Garlieston)
Stranraer Burgh
Wigtown Burgh
Wigtown Parish (landward)
Whithorn Burgh
Whithorn (landward)

Alternatively, you can view the microfilms of the original census records. They were filmed by the LDS under an arrangement with the GRO, Scotland. They can be ordered at your nearest FHC. Some Genealogical Societies hold some or all of these films. The index booklets mentioned above have been compiled from the information on these films.

Given that most of the information is more easily found from the index booklets, the two main reasons for looking at the films are:

There is less information in the 1841 census versus the 1851 census:

Bruce McDowell

1841 fields

Sample of the 1841 Census:


1851 Census

The 1851 Census is today available on the FreeCen site http://freecen.rootsweb.com/cgi/search.pl and also on the Dumfries and Galloway local government's library system web site, for Dumfries and for the two Galloway counties of Wigtownshire and Kirkcudbright. Enter: http://info.dumgal.gov.uk/historicalindexes/home/DisplayQuickSearchResults/1?page=1"

But please do remember that these are transcriptions, and therefore, despite best efforts of the volunteers who worked on them, they are liable to introduced errors. The information should therefore always be backed up by reference to original data, using for example the LDS film of the original census.

This 1851 census has also been indexed by John Roy, by Heads of Households, and we are very happy that we are able to include his invaluable key on these pages. In a rather compact manner, it offers both an index and an overview for those who need a more rapid feel for the location of entire groups of families by surname, for instance. Also, if you intend to use the D&G census you may find it useful to refer to John Roy's index to obtain the page number, as the noted URL reference doesn't give that information..

Census references are by parish number / enumeration district number / page number, for example the first entry of the first district on the Leswalt film will be 891/1/1. The exception to this was in 1851 where the page numbers were abandoned and replaced by 'entry numbers'. Therefore, the first entry in Leswalt will have the same number as other years but the second entry, which will normally be on the same page, will read 891/1/2.

The on-line 1851 census developed by the Friends of the Dumfries Archives does not use parish numbers in the search fields, instead, you need to type in the parish name (be careful with the spelling) if you are narrowing the search down to an individual parish. Once you find a likely candidate for the family you are searching for you can start a new search by typing in the parish name and the reference number in district / household number format That will bring up all of that entry only.

Ian A. McClumpha

Information on the 1851


1861, 1871

The 1861 and 1871 Censuses are now on the FreeCen site http://freecen.rootsweb.com/cgi/search.pl the information available being as shown below.

1881 Census

The UK 81 census is available in cd rom format through the LDS. They may be purchased online for a modest fee, or viewed at no cost at your local LDS Family History Center. But please do remember that these are transcriptions, and therefore, despite best efforts are liable to introduced errors. The information should therefore always be backed up by reference to original data, by viewing the filmed record.

The WigPages offers lookups for 81 cds, found in "Other Records".

1881 strays

Sam Heron has extracted over 3,400 names of those people connected to Wigtownshire, but recorded in another county in the 1881 UK census. To view his index, [click here].



image of census

Urquhart Census (Portpatrick)

The Rev. Andrew Urquart of the Free Church of Scotland conducted his own census of Portpatrick in 1832 - 1834, 1844, 1846, and 1852. The information is very basic and varies from year to year. They were transcribed and published in a book, a copy of which is in the reference section of the Ewart library in Dumfries. To see an index of those surnames mentioned within the Urquhart census, please [click here].

Typical Abbreviations within the census

Ag Lab Agricultural Labourer
F.S. Female Servant
M.S. Male Servant
Serv. servant
M maker
do ditto
Lg Lodger
SL son-in-law
DL daughter-in-law
GS grandson

Have you extra time on your hands?

Read about the Scotland Free Census Project, and discover how you can be part of the transcription team:

What is the Scotland Free Census Project?

The Scotland Free Census project is part of the larger UK Free Census project. The UK Free Census Project aims to provide a "free-to-view" online searchable database of the 19th century UK census returns. The project began in 1999 with the England/Wales 1891 census returns.

What is the goal of the Scotland Free Census Project?

The goal of the project is to transcribe, check, validate, and upload to an online database all 19th-century census returns for Scotland. The project is beginning with the 1841 census and will work forward.

For more information
UK Free Census project, http://freecen.rootsweb.com/
Scottish FreeCen census project: https://sites.rootsweb.com/~sctfc/
Wigtownshire-specific introduction to the FreeCen census project: https://sites.rootsweb.com/~sctwigfc/