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"Lanarkshire, inland co. in SW. of Scotland; is bounded N. by Dumbartonshire and Stirlingshire, E. by Linlithgowshire, Edinburghshire, and Peeblesshire, S. by Dumfriesshire, and W. by Ayrshire and Renfrewshire; greatest length, NW. and SE., 52 miles; greatest breadth, NE. and SW., 34 miles; area, 564,284 ac., pop. 904,412. Lanarkshire is often called Clydesdale, occupying, as it does, the valley of the Clyde, which traverses the county from SE. to NW., and receives numerous tributary streams, including the Douglas, Avon, and Calder. ...

The surface rises towards the S., where the Lowther or Lead Hills reach an alt. of 2403 ft. The Upper Ward is chiefly hill or moorland, affording excellent pasture for sheep; the Middle Ward contains the orchards for which Clydesdale has long been famous; and in the Lower Ward are some rich alluvial lands along the Clyde; but all over the county a considerable proportion of the soil is moist, marshy, and barren. Dairy-farming is prosecuted with success. (For agricultural statistics, see Appendix.) The minerals are very valuable; coal and iron are wrought to such an extent that Lanarkshire is one of the principal seats of the iron trade; lead is mined in the Upper Ward. The co. comprises 40 pars. and 4 parts, the parl. and mun. burgh of Glasgow (7 members, and Glasgow University, with that of Aberdeen, 1 member), the parl. and police burghs of Airdrie, Hamilton, and Lanark (part of the Falkirk Burghs), the parl. and police burgh of Rutherglen (part of the Kilmarnock Burghs), and the police burghs of Biggar, Govan, Govanhill, Hillhead, Maryhill, Motherwell, Partick, and Wishaw. For parl. purposes it is divided into 6 divisions - viz., Govan, Partick, North-Western, North-Eastern, Mid, and Southern, 1 member for each division. The representation of Lanarkshire was increased from 2 to 6 members in 1885."

John Bartholomew's Gazetteer of the British Isles, 1887


A wide range of illustrated histories and books of old photographs of a variety of Scottish towns and Glasgow districts have been published in recent years by Richard Stenlake Publishing


General advice on census records and indexes can be found on our Scotland Census page.

In the Lanarkshire area microfilm copies can be consulted at a number of locations in Glasgow and at a number of local libraries.

Church History

The church has, over the centuries, exercised a great influence in the developement of Scotland and its people. But this "influence" has been a two-way process, where the people have also had their say in a manner which reflects something basic about the Scottish people - always compassionate yet often at odds with each other. The church (and others areas such as education and the law) is an area where the cultural difference between Scotland and England can easily be seen, with the national "established" church - the Church of Scotland - being presbyterian in form of government. This does not, however, mean that all presbyterians belong to the national church.

The rights of the people are important in Scotland where, in theory at least, the people and not parliament are sovereign. The people have also stood their ground, in the days of the Covenanters, to ensure that government of their national church was controlled by the people and their clergy and not by the aristocracy of the country. The Covenanters were strong in the Lanarkshire area and often suffered for their beliefs and rights, including in the Battle of Bothwell Bridge.

Church Records

The Kirk Session is the governing body of a Presbyterian church and consists of the minister of the parish and the ordained elders of the congregation. It looks after the general spiritual wellbeing of the congregation and, particularly in centuries past, parochial discipline. Kirk Sessions meet on a regular basis with additional meetings at other times, including Communion, and each of these meetings is carefully minuted. Most Church of Scotland Kirk Session records are held in the Scottish Record Office in Edinburgh and can be fascinating reading. Records for churches within the Presbytery of Glasgow are kept in the Glasgow Archives.

Civil Registration

Registration of Births, Marriages and Deaths began in Scotland on 1st January 1855. For details of these and other records held and available for search at the General Register Office in Edinburgh.

For the old "Strathclyde Region" area (which included Lanarkshire) facilities exist in Glasgow to search and view some of these records on computer index and microfiche.

An Analytical Index to the Lanarkshire Statutory Registers of Death for the years 1855 and 1856 are commercially available on microfiche from wayne.mckirdy@paradise.net.nz

Court Records

Records of testaments, inventories etc. are held at the National Records of Scotland.


The modern Gazetteer for Scotland provides comprehensive information on both old and modern-day Scotland. Take some time to fully explore its features in depth.


Useful sources for genealogical research can be found throughout Lanarkshire. Some local libraries have family history research resources specific to their area

A wide range of resources can be found in the City of Glasgow.


You can see maps centred on OS grid reference NS845505 (Lat/Lon: 55.734122, -3.840966), which are provided by:

Military Records

  • Rolls of Honour and War Memorials (monuments) are one good resource for family historians, but need to be addressed with some caution - it should not be assumed that they are either complete or accurate. Memorials (and Rolls of Honour) were created at the local parish level after asking the local inhabitants whose names should appear. Thus:

    - Some names may have been omitted, for a variety of reasons.
    - Some names may appear on more than one memorial.
    - Some names may be misspelled, or given names transposed.
    - Some people may be listed as killed in action, but were not.
    - Some people may be listed who were not in the service at all.
    - Some people may have been confused with others of a similar name.

    - A Roll of Honour may sometimes list the names of all who served, not just those who died.
    - Some of the original records may have been incorrect, for a variety of reasons.
    - Some (more recent) research may be incorrect.
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