Wigtownshire Pages: Portpatrick parish info
wig logo
Return to Home  |   County Info  |   Parishes and Lookups  |   Go to picture gallery  |   Site Map

Portpatrick Parish

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

Portpatrick is a very small parish, once called the Black Quarter of the Inch, and till 1628 a part of Inch parish. Tradition once had St. Patrick crossing the channel here in a single stride, or alternatively, having been beheaded, swimming to Ireland with his head in his teeth! The port, formerly Portmontgomery, was for small sailing ships their destination from Donaghadee in Ireland. This 20 mile crossing was the main route for mail, passengers and cattle, especially from 1770 to 1830, being a terminus of the military road built across Galloway from Dumfries to secure the area in 1765. The town was also a western Gretna Green, profitably providing rapid marriage for Irish runaways. Today the massive stone-built harbor with its lighthouse still shelters a few pleasure craft, but it is wide open to severe North Atlantic storms. So the railway came here (1862 - 1950) just in time to see cross- channel steamer services moved to the safer, far more sheltered port of Stranraer.

The Adair family's Dunskey Castle is to the north, ruinous from the 1600s, but with its ghosts it still occupies a spectacular exposed headland above the port. The old parish church tower, still conspicuous in the town, may once have provided a harbor light but was abandoned as a church in 1842. In the kirkyard is the memorial to the loss of the steamer Orion with 50 passengers and crew in 1852. Now, and since about 1900, Portpatrick is a small coastal resort, home to one of the greatest and last Scottish baronial hotels! The hinterland has peat moors, and the woods of Dunskey House and its glen. Portpatrick is notable for the genealogical treasure of "The Urquhart Censuses" of 1832 - 1853, private house-by-house records.

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 C118961 or M118961
1719-1820 C118962 or M118962
1754-1790 (+1817+1849) C118964 or M118964
1819-1854 C118965 or M118965


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.

Urquhart census

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]..

LDS Film Numbers

1841 1042847 and 101941
1851 1042557 and 103775
1861 103921
1871 104113
1881 224063
1891 220462
The Urquhart census of Portpatrick, 1832-1853 6035619
Church Records
Parish Registers (Church of Scotland), 1719 - 1854
1068040 Items 3-4
Neglected Birth Entry,1838
1068041 Item 1
Addt'l filming,1951 Vault 102355
Parish register transcripts, 1721-1846 994027 Item 4
Book: Irregular Marriages
at Portpatrick,
Available through LDS book service
Church indexes
A-Z, 1720-1854, 2 fiches
A-Z, 1720-1854,1 fiche

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/Portpatrick Town only Phil Reed and Sam Heron
1841 census, Parish of Portpatrick Sam Heron
Urquhart Census
Edward H. Thompson
MIs Eddie Ronnie

Links for Portpatrick

http://www.stranraer.org/sti_visit/portpatrick.html - Stranraer, Dumfries and Galloway, South west Scotland. Includes section on Portpatrick.
http://www.portpatrick.co.uk/index.html - Portpatrick History

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 from 1719 to 1846. Birth, Marriages, and some burials. 1845 Statistical Account of Scotland, volume 4, page 142, mentions kirk session records within the parish registers.

The Death Register for Portpatrick has been transcribed.
Click here to read more.
Click here to go straight to the transcription.

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 Portpatrick parish roll, [click here].


To view pictures of Portpatrick, please click here.


1751 551
1791 996
1831 2,239
1845 1,991