Wigtownshire Pages: Kirkcowan parish info
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Kirkcowan Parish

map photo photo photo photo
To view the entire photogallery, [click here]

Kirkcowan with its wide moorlands is one of the larger Wigtownshire parishes. Once a part of Kirkinner, it is fifteen miles from its six mile long border with Ayrshire's Carrick District in the north, to the mile wide southern tip where it falls between Penninghame, across the River Bladnoch to the east, and New and Old Luce in the west. Craighlaw House was the home of the Hamiltons in the mid 1800s, the other heritors being from Glasserton, Sorbie and outside the Shire. It is a pastoral country, reputed in 1840 to have six or more of the typical black-faced sheep to every parishioner. The small black Galloway cattle were also raised, although high thin grazing limited the cattle trade to two-year olds, usually sent to England for fattening. There was some mining in early years, copper having been extracted near Kirkcowan village, and a granite quarry was noted for its hard blue building stone, much used in the parish.

In 1822 a woollen mill was erected on the River Tarf, also near Kirkcowan village, the cloth finishing and dyeing processes taking advantage of the soft pure waters of the Tarf. It was on the route of medieval pilgrims as they walked south from Ayrshire to such rest places as Spittal of Bladenoch on their way to Whithorn. Kirkcowan has also seen the 1765 military road and the modern highway linking Galloway to the Irish ferries and to England, and also the coming, and going, of the Dumfries-Stranraer railway.

The Statistical Accounts of Scotland, 1791-1845

"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.

Parish Info

Batch Numbers

Recently a new site has been published, which considerably cuts the time involved searching the International Genealogy Index (IGI) with batch numbers.

Click here to view the entrance page, and read about the site, and batch numbers.

Click here to go directly to the IGI Batch numbers for Wigtown parishes.

1855-1875 C118871 or M118871
1779-1821 C118872 or M118872
1820-1854 C118873 or M118873


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 we are pleased to cite their URL where you can browse it as you wish. To access the census directly, enter:

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.

LDS Film Numbers

1841 1042846 and 101940 (another filming
1851 1042555 and 103774 (another filming)
1861 103921
1871 104112
1881 224060
1891 220460
Church Records
Parish Registers, 1778-1854
Baptisms,1788 - 1854
Marriages,1822 - 1854
Items 3-4
Another filming 102348 Item 2
Name Index, computer printout
A-Z, 1788-1854
A-Z, 1832-1856

Lookups for Parish Records

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

Map Sources

Old Parish Registers

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

Covers period between 1778 - 1854.

Parish Lists of Wigtownshire and Minnigaff, 1684

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 Kirkcowan parish roll, [click here].


[click here] to view more Kirkcowan photos.


1755 765
1796 954