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Leswalt

Description of the parish in 1846

"LESWALT, a parish, in the county of Wigtown, 4 miles (N. W.) from Stranraer; containing 2712 inhabitants. ..
The parish is about eight miles in length, and nearly of the same breadth. It has the Irish Channel on the west, Loch Ryan on the east, the parish of Kirkcolm on the north, and Portpatrick on the south; and forms a portion of the peninsula called the Rhyns of Galloway. ..
The oats produced are estimated at the value of about £6000 yearly: some attention is now paid to the cultivation of wheat, and considerable quantities of potatoes are raised. Much land formerly rough pasture, or waste, has been improved by lime and shell-sand manures and brought into good cultivation; and the care recently taken of the fences and the farm-houses has effected great changes in the appearance of the parish. Black-cattle of the Galloway breed are reared for the English markets; the sheep are chiefly the Cheviot and the black-faced. ..
There are two villages, Clayhole and Hillhead, forming a part of the suburbs of Stranraer. An excellent road runs through the middle of the parish, branching off in one direction round Loch Naw to Portpatrick, and in another by Kirkcolm to Stranraer. The ecclesiastical affairs are under the government of the presbytery of Stranraer and synod of Galloway, and the patronage is in the Crown. The stipend of the minister is £143, of which nearly a fourth is received from the exchequer; with a manse, built in 1811, and a glebe of nearly twenty acres, valued at about £30 per annum. The church, built in 1828, contains 550 sittings. The members of the Free Church have a place of worship; and there is a parochial school, the master of which has a salary of £25. 13. 3., with £20 fees, and a house and garden. There is also a parochial library of nearly 400 volumes." - edited from A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland, Samuel Lewis, 1846.

Places in Leswalt parish
The parish includes Leswalt and the western part of Stranraer burgh (Sheuchan).

Archives and Libraries

The ScotlandsPlaces website lets users search across national databases by geographical location. It includes, amongst other material,

  • catalogue entries for maps and plans held by the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh; some maps and plans can be viewed
  • photos and details of historical buildings and archaeological sites recorded by the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, Edinburgh
  • 17th and 18th century tax rolls
  • an opportunity to transcribe thousands of historic documents

Cemeteries

There are 4 cemeteries in Leswalt parish (2 for Leswalt parish, and 2 newer ones built in an extended Stranraer):

1. Leswalt Old Parish Churchyard, in Leswalt village (grid reference NX 015638, GPS: 54.929810,-5.098448, Google map):

2. Leswalt Cemetery, Bridge of Aldouran, Leswalt (grid ref. NX 015639, GPS: 54.930119, -5.098853, Google map):

  • Across the road, to the north of the ruins of the old church.
  • Burial records, to 1843, in the Old Parochial Registers - see Church Records below. A transcript of the burial registers 1815-1854 is on the Wigtownshire Pages.
  • The cemetery is administered by Local Services, Culhorn Depot, Commerce Road, Stranraer, DG9 7DE. Tel: 03033333000
  • Information from Historic Churchyards in Dumfries & Galloway.

3. Sheuchan Cemetery and extension, Leswalt High Road, Stranraer (grid ref. NX 055609, GPS: 54.905071,-5.034195, Google map):

4. Stranraer Glebe Cemetery (grid ref. NX 052604, GPS: 54.900278,-5.040128, Google map):

Census

Parish / district reference number for 1841 - 1911 censuses: 891

The 1841, 1851, 1861 and 1871 returns can be searched on the FreeCEN website.

There is an online index to the 1851 census created by the Friends of the Archives of Dumfries and Galloway.

Some census records on microfilm may be consulted in LDS Family Search Centres around the world.

LDS Library Film Numbers:

  1841 1851 1861 1871 1881 1891
Leswalt 1042847 1042556 103921 104112 224061 220461
(Data provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints)

Further information on the main GENUKI Wigtownshire page.

Churches

You can also perform a more selective search for churches in the Leswalt area or see them printed on a map.

Church History

In addition to the parish church at Leswalt, other churches include a Free Church at Leswalt, and a Church of Scotland and a Free Church at Sheuchan.

A list of all persons over 12 years of age, collected under instructions to the Episcolalian Curates of Galloway and Dumfriesshire, was published as Parish lists of Wigtownshire and Minnigaff, 1684. It is available at the Open Library.

The Old Statistical Account (written in the 1790s) gives no information about Dissenters.

The New Statistical Account (written in 1839) gives this information:

  • Families attending the Established Church - 411; families attending chapels of Dissenters or Seceders - 111; Roman Catholic families - 17.

The1865 Ecclesiastical Directory lists the parish church, the Church of Scotland at Sheuchan,  and Free Churches at Leswalt and Sheuchan.

Details of church history:

  • Leswalt Kirk Session
The old church of Leswalt, which was replaced in 1828 when a new church was erected, belonged anciently to the Abbey of Tongland. Ministry of the Kirk Session is recorded from 1567, in the person of Thomas Makalexander. In 1985 Leswalt established a link with Ervie Kirkcolm. The kirk session sat within the Presbytery of Stranraer until 1963 when, by Act of Assembly, the Presbytery of Wigtown and the Presbytery of Stranraer were united together under the name of the Presbytery of Wigtown and Stranraer.
  • Kirkcolm Free Church, United Free, Kirkcolm & Leswalt Church of Scotland (Ervie)
The congregation of Kirkcolm Free Church, which sat within the Presbytery of Stranraer, was established at the time of the Disruption in 1843 and supply service was arranged from July of that year. Worship had to take place for a time in the farm houses of Knochtinan and Kirminnoch until a church was built in 1844-1845 on land granted by Sir Andrew Agnew of Lochnaw. The charge was sanctioned in 1845. In 1900, upon the union of the Free Church and the United Presbyterians, Kirkcolm Free Church became Kirkcolm United Free and in 1921 the charge was reduced in status. A number of years thereafter in 1928 Kirkcolm U.F. was united with the congregation of Leswalt and the united charge was renamed Ervie. Following the union of the Church of Scotland and the United Free Church, Ervie U.F. became Ervie and Leswalt Church of Scotland and in 1950 a further union was established with the parish church congregation of Kirkcolm to form the session of Ervie and Kirkcolm. After this local union both churches continued in use. The kirk session of Ervie and Kirkcolm remains active today and presently falls under the jurisdiction of the Presbytery of Wigtown and Stranraer.
  • Leswalt Free Church
Leswalt Free Church was formed at the Disruption, when the minister and part of the congregation adhered to the Free Church. It passed to the United Free Church, but was reduced in status in 1925 and united with Kirkcolm as Ervie UF in 1929. The UFC charge was in the presbytery of Wigtown and Stranraer and the synod of Dumfries and Galloway.
  • Sheuchan Kirk Session
The Kirk Session of Sheuchan was established in 1868 when it was disjoined from that of Inch and erected as a separate parish, quoad sacra. A church had been built here a number of years earlier in 1841. In 1956 Sheuchan formed a union with the former United Free Church congregation of Stranraer St Margaret's, under the name of Stranraer High. The kirk session sat within the Presbytery of Stranraer until 1963 when, by Act of Assembly, the Presbytery of Wigtown and the Presbytery of Stranraer united together under the name of Presbytery of Wigtown and Stranraer.
  • Sheuchan Free Church, later United Free Church
Sheuchan Free Church began at the Disruption, when the minister and almost the whole congregation of a church extension charge adhered to the Free Church. It passed successively to the United Free Church, as Stranraer Sheuchan, and to the Church of Scotland, as Stranraer St Margaret's, which was reduced in status in 1952 and united in 1956 with Sheuchan as Stranraer High. The Church of Scotland charge was in the presbytery of Stranraer and the synod of Ayr.

Church websites: Ervie-Kirkcolm

Church Records

Data provided by the  Scottish Archive Network (SCAN)

The Parish Church (Established Church, Church of Scotland):

The original Old Parish Registers (of baptisms / births, proclamations / marriages, and deaths / burials) of the Church of Scotland, which cover the years up to 1854, are held in the National Records of Scotland in Edinburgh, and they can all be consulted there at the National Records of Scotland.

Parish reference number: 891

The Old Parish Registers (OPRs) span the following dates (although there are gaps within these ranges):

Leswalt OPR Births / baptisms Proclamations / marriages Deaths / burials / mortcloths
891/1 1729-1820 1729-1820 1729-1819
891/2 1820-1854 1820-1854 1820-1843
Register of Neglected Entries 1847-1850    
(Data supplied by National Records of Scotland)

The Detailed List of the Old Parochial Registers of Scotland, published 1872, provides this information about the content of the OPRs, including the gaps within them:

B.  No entries for 1753, and only one entry for 1755, and for 1757. Six entries 1767 - 1782 recorded after March 1783. Only two entries Oct. 1783 - Jan. 1786. Entries 1784 - 1790 on page at March 1789. After May 1804 is a copy of the Record from Feb. 1756, which is continued after 1804 as the principal Register. After 1797, in the copy, two pages of irregular entries 1767 - 1822. The early portion has suffered from damp. Mothers' names are not recordedtill 1798.
M.  No entries Dec. 1739 - March 1741, and blank (except for 5 entries1751 - 1752) April 1748 - Jan. 1790. There are, however, occasional entries of Proclamation Fees between 1729 and 1740, and 1755 - 1777, among the Mortcloth Dues for the same period. Blank also April 1797 - April 1798.
D.  Mortcloth Dues till 1778, but blank 1738 - 1756. Blank also 1778 - 1816, after which deaths are recorded.

The baptisms / births, proclamations / marriages and deaths / burials indexes can be searched at the ScotlandsPeople website. Copies of the register entries may be purchased.

Copies of the registers on microfilm may be consulted in some local libraries and at LDS Family Search Centres around the world. The indexes to baptisms / births and proclamations / marriages can also be searched on the LDS Family Search website or on the IGI on microfiche in local libraries.

LDS Library Film Numbers:

1068038 Items 3 - 4 Baptisms, 1729-1854; Marriages, 1729-1854; Burials, 1729-1843; Neglected Birth Entries, 1847-1850.
(Data provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints)

A transcript of the burial registers 1815-1854 is on the Wigtownshire Pages.

The Dumfries and Galloway Family History Society have published Irish Marriages in Portpatrick, Wigtownshire, 1759-1826, which includes information on Stranraer, Stoneykirk and Leswalt.

Further information on the main GENUKI Wigtownshire page.

Kirk Session records are held at the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh. Some Kirk Session material is to be found in the OPR records (891/1 and 891/2).

Heritors' Records (HR90) are at the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh.

At the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh:

  • CH2/882
    Leswalt Kirk Session
    Minutes and accounts, 1778-1843; Baptismal register, 1859-1925; Communion roll, 1878-1889; Proclamation register, 1859-1979.
  • CH2/950
    Sheuchan Kirk Session
    Minutes, 1868-1942; Manager's minutes, 1895-1929; Cash book, 1890-1910; Baptismal register, 1890-1956; Marriage register, 1891-1955; Miscellaneous papers, 1841-1968.

Included in the Old Parochial Registers on microfilm and at the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh but not online:

  • Leswalt Kirk Session
    • 891/1
      Accounts, 1729-1778.
    • 891/2
      Minutes and ccounts, 1826-1838.

At the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh:

  • HR90
    Leswalt parish heritors' records
    Minutes, 1906-1928.
  • GD154
    Papers of the Agnew Family of Lochnaw, Wigtownshire
    Heritors of Leswalt, 1727-1866.

Other Churches:

Records of other churches are held at the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh.

At the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh:

  • CH3/198
    Kirkcolm Free Church, United Free, and Kirkcolm and Leswalt Church of Scotland (Ervie)
    Session Minutes, 1849-1865, 1843-1865, 1865-1892; Communion Roll, 1879-89; Adherents, 1879-89; Baptisms, 1865-1895; Minutes, 1892-1950; Deacons' court minutes, 1850-1886, 1887-1936; Communion roll, 1900-1952.
  • CH3/855
    Leswalt Free Church
    Minutes, 1853-1859; Marriages, 1864-1876.
  • CH3/921
    Sheuchan Free Church, later United Free
    Minutes, 1842-1900; Deacons' court minutes, 1849-1850, 1883-1907.

The Leswalt page of the LDS Family Search Research Wiki has more information about church history and records.

Civil Registration

Registration of Births, Marriages and Deaths began in Scotland on 1st January 1855. Full information on the main GENUKI Wigtownshire page.

Registration districts covering this parish:

Registration district number start date end date
Leswalt 891 1855 1966
Stranraer Area 899 1967 1971
Stranraer Area 870 1972 2004
Dumfries & Galloway, Stranraer 870 2005  

Registration districts did not necessarily coincide exactly with parishes. As Stranraer expanded, although its parish boundaries remained unchanged, its registration district and burgh boundaries changed. Part of Stranraer registration district and burgh is in Inch parish, and part in Leswalt parish.

Description and Travel

Leswalt village Ordnance Survey Grid Reference GPS Post code Lat. 54°55'49"N
NX 017639 54.930307
-5.094989
DG9 0LJ Lon. 5°5'42"W

Surrounding parishes: Kirkcolm, Stranraer, Portpatrick, Inch .

You can see pictures of Leswalt which are provided by:

Directories

The parish entry in Pigot's National Commercial Directory for the whole of Scotland, 1837, is online at Google Books.

Gazetteers

There is a list of places in Leswalt parish, with links to online historical and modern maps.

The GENUKI gazetteer will give a calculation of the distance from Leswalt to another place.

Several old gazetteers are available. They all contain descriptions of the parish and many are also worth searching for entries of places within the parish.

  • David Webster's Topographical Dictionary of Scotland, published 1819, online at Google Books.
  • Samuel Lewis's Topographical Dictionary of Scotland, published 1846, online at British History Online.
  • Frances Groome's Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland (1882-4) and John Bartholomew's Gazetteer of the British Isles (1887) are on A Vision of Britain (click on "Historical places and writing").
  • Frances Groome's Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland(1892-6) on Electric Scotland

Genealogy

The Leswalt parish page on the Wigtownshire Pages contains a lot of excellent genealogical material and some beautiful photographs.

Historical Geography

A Vision of Britain provides historical descriptions, population & housing statistics, historic boundaries and maps.

You can see the administrative areas in which Leswalt has been placed at times in the past. Select one to see a link to a map of that particular area.

Ask for a calculation of the distance from Leswalt to another place.

Land and Property

Details of historic buildings and archaeological sites in this parish held by the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, Edinburgh, are catalogued at ScotlandsPlaces. In the results, click RCAHMS. Unfortunately, not all entries have digital images.

Listed buildings in Leswalt.

Valuation Rolls, from 1855, are held in Edinburgh. Valuation Office field books and plans (for the Valuation Office survey of 1911-1915) are also held in Edinburgh. A few valuation rolls are held locally. Leswalt records:

At the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh:

  • VR123
    Valuation Rolls: County of Wigtown
    1855-1975; the rolls for 1855, 1865, 1875, 1885, 1895, 1905, 1915, 1920, 1925 and 1930 are online at the ScotlandsPeople website.
  • IRS87/21-22
    Valuation Office (Scotland): Field Book, 1910-1920: Leswalt Parish
    Entries 1-158.
  • IRS87/64-68
    Valuation Office (Scotland): Field Book, 1910-1920: Stranraer Burgh, Leswalt Ward
    Entries 1-329 & various others.
  • IRS133
    Valuation Office (Scotland) maps to accompany the above field books, scale 1/2500, Ordnance Survey sheets for Wigtownshire.

At the Ewart Library, Dumfries:

  • EW4
    Wigtownshire County Council: County Treasurer's Department
    Valuation rolls, 1891-1975; Assessment rolls, 1890-1897, 1950-1960.

At the Ewart Library, Dumfries:

  • EW1
    Wigtownshire Commissioners of Supply
    Assessment rolls, Leswalt parish, 1874-1895.

Estate papers:

At the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh:

Some estate papers can be found by searching the National Records of Scotland of Scotland catalogue for "Leswalt" and reference starts "GD". Collections particularly worth searching are:

  • GD154
    Papers of the Agnew Family of Lochnaw, Wigtownshire
    Considerable collection of papers concerning Wigtownshire.
  • GD135
    Papers of the Dalrymple Family, Earls of Stair
  • GD25
    Papers of the Kennedy Family, Earls of Cassillis (Ailsa Muniments)

At the Ewart Library, Dumfries:

  • GGD306
    Papers of the Family of Kerr of Little Larbrax
    Letters (including one concerning life in Melbourne, Australia in 1854), farming cash books and stock and crop valuations of Little Larbrax in the parish of Leswalt, 1822-1887, with a water colour of the property and a commonplace book recording a Highland tour in 1889, Portpatrick weather and shipwrecks and genealogical information, overall 1745-1931.

Maps

Historic maps:

This Charles Close Society Sheetfinder will provide the sheet numbers for historic Ordnance Survey 1-inch and 6-inch maps for any location.

Present-day maps:

You can see maps centred on OS grid reference NX017639 (Lat/Lon: 54.930295, -5.096610), Leswalt which are provided by:

Military History

The Wigtownshire pages has information about the names on the war memorial. More information can be found at the Scottish War Memorials Project.

Names, Geographical

The Ordnance Survey Object Name Books are held by the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh. Details of Leswalt records:

At the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh:

  • RH4/23/229 and RH4/23/231
    Ordnance Survey Original Object Name Books for Scotland: Wigtownshire
    Parishes of Kirkcolm and Leswalt (books 15 and 16); Inch, Kirkcolm and Leswalt (book 19); Leswalt and Portpatrick (books 33 and 34); Leswalt, Inch, Portpatrick and Stranraer (book 35).

Poor Houses, Poor Law etc.

The relief of paupers after 1845 was carried out by the Parochial Board and later by the Parish Council. Their records are at the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh. See Public Records below.

Population

Year Population
1755 652
1801 1329
1851 3021
1901 2270
1951 5197

There is a page with census statistics from 1755 to 1951 here.

See also A Vision of Britain and Histpop for population statistics.

Probate Records

Probate records are 'Confirmations' in Scotland.

Prior to 1824, wills, testaments & inventories of residents of Leswalt may be found in either the Wigtown Commissariot (CC22) or the Edinburgh Commissariot (CC8) records. From 1824, commissary business has been conducted by the Sheriff Court of Wigtown (SC19).

Sources worth searching for deeds include Wigtown Sheriff Court.

Public Records

Parochial Boards and their successors, Parish Councils, administered many local functions including poor relief.

At the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh:

  • CO4/37
    Leswalt Parish Records
    Parochial Board Minute Book, 1855-1875, 1875-1895; Parish Council Minute Book, 1895-1902, 1903-1917, 1917-1930; Parish Council Minute Book (Landward Committee), 1895-1929; Parochial Board General Register of the Poor, 1848-1880, 1880-1900, 1900-1911, 1912-1930.

At the Ewart Library, Dumfries:

  • EW8
    Wigtownshire Parochial Boards and Parish Councils
    Leswalt Parish Council, draft minutes, 1895-1899

Schools

School Board records and / or school logbooks are held at the Ewart Library, Dumfries. Leswalt records:

At the Ewart Library, Dumfries:

  • EW5/39
    Larbrax School
    Log books, 1884-1966; Admissions and withdrawals registers, 1919-1965; Attendance register, 1965-1966; Summary of attendance, 1965-1966. (Closed)
    By 1952 it had become known as Larbrax Primary School.
  • EW5/53/5-9
    Sheuchan School
    Admissions and withdrawals registers, 1867-1937(Access restricted)

The Ordnance Gazetteer for Scotland lists the following public schools in the parish (1893):

School Accommodation for scholars Average attendance
Larbrex 55 42
Leswalt public 200 89

Statistics

"Statistical accounts" giving fascinating insights into the local topography and history, social and economic conditions, and even the daily lives of people, were written by the parish ministers in the 1790s and the 1830s. For more information see the main GENUKI Wigtownshire page.

Taxation

The parish listing of the farm horse tax, 1797-98, the female servants tax, 1785-92, and the Male Servants Tax, 1777-98, can be seen at ScotlandsPlaces.

For details of other early taxation records see the Early Taxation Records page.