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Whithorn, maybe the Roman Leucophibia, is an irregular parish bordered by Glasserton, Sorbie, and the Irish Sea, Burrow Head's high cliffs ending the Machars peninsula at its southern point. Frost and snow are rare visitors to this level land, mild enough to winter-graze cattle, without hills, glens, woods or rivers on its thin but fertile soil. Christianity bloomed early here, St. Ninian traditionally building Candida Casa church about 430 AD. A bishop of the Celtic church, he was likely not the first. Facts are scarce. Northumbrian history re-emerges locally from 730 to 833, then until the revival of the bishopric in 1128, archaeology testifies to a Hiberno-Norse settlement.
A Premonstratensian Priory founded, probably by Fergus, Lord of Galloway, in David I's reign, with a myriad relics of Ninian, was sought by pilgrims from across the British Isles. James IV's Queen Margaret was one; James in 1511 made a Royal burgh of Whithorn town, today home to a fine little Museum. The Earl of Galloway and the Hathorns of ruined Castlewigg were heritors of the 1800s. Land was mainly arable with little meadow, but Leicester and Cheviot cross sheep were raised. Access was easy by land, more so after 1877 by the Wigtown Railway, and by water at Isle of Whithorn, the only substantial village, where a 1790 pier served steamers to Whitehaven and Liverpool. An influx of Irish families in the 1830s caused heavy local emigration.
"The 'Old' (1791) and 'New' (1834-45) Statistical Accounts of Scotland provide detailed parish reports - and in the case of the 'New' county reports - for the whole of Scotland, covering a wide spectrum of subjects including agriculture, education, trades, religion and social customs." (EDINA, hosted by Edinburgh University Data Library).
This is a must read, as it contains excellent physical and social descriptions of the parish, Use the link below to access the scanned extracts. You may choose to read county reports which give a more general view of Wigton(Wigtown), or go directly to the pages devoted to your parish of interest.
|1855-1875||C119001 or M119001|
|1712-1855||C119002 or M119002|
General information on all Wigtownshire census is more fully explained on Wigtownshire Census Records.
The 1851 Census is today available, as a full transcription, on the Dumfries and Galloway local government's library system web site, for Dumfries and for the two Galloway counties of Wigtownshire and Kirkcudbright, and on their web-site you can browse it as you wish. To access their site directly, please refer to the URL listed on our "Links" page.
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.
|1841||1042848 and 101941|
|1851||1042557 and 103775|
|Parish Registers (Church of Scotland),1712-1855|
|1068042 Items 4-5
Another filming VAULT 102359 Item 1
|Whithorn Associate Congregation Church, 1793-1912|
|Minutes and marriages,
|889475 Item 4|
Communion roll ante, 1835-1840,1881-1912;
Seat rent accounts,1812-1830
register of Whithorn, marriages, 1802
|304671 Item 28|
|Associate Session, Whithorn:
|Births and christenings,
A-Z, 1799, 1805,
1848 (only 8 entries
taken from the Sessions minutes)
A thru Z, 1795, 1803-1810,
1848-1849 (only 10 entries)
|Church of Scotland|
|Births and christenings,
A thru Z 1712-1855
|Marriages, A-Z, 1716-1855||6901411 fiche|
The following volunteers from the Sct. Wigtownshire mailing list have kindly offered to share their resources and time with other researchers. When asking for a lookup please be specific. Provide surname, forename, and other details that would make the lookup easier to perform. Blanket searches for one surname, i.e. "Please supply all Brown information", must be avoided. To view all parish lookups available, please click here.
|1841 census||Bob McKerlie and Carrie Gulline|
|1851 census||Bruce McDowall|
|MI's for St. Ninian's Kirkyard up to mid 1800s||Nancy Clarken|
O.P.R.s refer to Old Parish Records which prior to civil registration in 1855 were ledgers in which the parish cleric entered vital information such as marriage, birth/christening, and in some cases deaths. Parish registers were kept only as well as the cleric had time and inclination to do so. In some parishes, within a particular time, the records are exact, precise and a joy to read, in other periods of time, the same parish records could have sporadic, or barely legible, entries. To read more about Old Parish Records, and see image samples, please view Old Parish Records (OPR)for Wigtownshire
Covered period between 1695-1855.
Published in 1916, Parish Lists of Wigtownshire and Minnigaff, 1684 contains nominal rolls recorded in 1684 of all persons, male or female, over the age of 12, by parish, and domocile. To read more about this index, and to find a link to the Whithorn parish roll, [click here].
To view pictures of Whithorn, please click here.