For information on records for a particular parish, see that parish's page (where available).
The original Old Parochial Records of the Church of Scotland are held in the General Register Office for Scotland [GRO(S)] in Edinburgh, and copies on microfilm may be consulted in LDS Family History Centres around the world. The birth and marriage records are indexed on microfiche. Copies (not necessarily of all parishes) are also held by some of the Family History Societies in the county and also in some local libraries. The birth, marriage and death records can also be searched at ScotlandsPeople - the online database of Scottish Birth, Marriage and Death Indexes at the General Register Office. (Note that this site charges for access to the database.)
Note that on September 1, 2017, FamilySearch will discontinue its microfilm distribution services. (The last day to order microfilm will be August 31, 2017.)
The Kirk Session of a parish consists of the minister of the parish and the elders of the congregation. It looks after the general well-being of the congregation. In centuries past, the Kirk Session was responsible for parochial discipline. Some of the Kirk Session records for the Presbyteries covering Ayrshire are held in the Scottish Record Office in Edinburgh. Some Kirk Session material is often to be found amongst the Old Parochial Records. Click here for a tutorial on Old Parochial Records.
The Heritors were the landowners in each parish who were responsible (until 1925) for the maintenance of the church and manse and (before 1878) for the parochial school. They were also responsible, with the Kirk Session, for the poor of the parish until 1845. Their records are also to be found in the Scottish Record Office in Edinburgh.
Records of many other churches, particularly the Free Churches and United Presbyterian Churches, may also be found in at the National Records of Scotland, formerly known as the National Archives of Scotland and the Scottish Record Office, in Edinburgh. Some of these records include baptism and marriage registers.
To assist in the identification of the different entities that have existed during the turbulent history of the Church of Scotland, there is a diagram and set of notes, based on those originally compiled by Linda Merle, which may be of assistance.