Description of the parish in 1846

Map showing the location of the parish "STRANRAER, a royal burgh, a sea-port, and parish, in the county of Wigtown, 50 (S. S. W.) from Ayr; containing 3440 inhabitants. The town, which is coextensive with the parish, is beautifully situated at the head of Loch Ryan, a branch of the Frith of Clyde; and consists mainly of several parallel streets, of which the principal extends for nearly half a mile along the loch, and which are intersected at right angles by smaller streets leading to the shore. ..
An important fishery is carried on in Loch Ryan, for skate, flounders, turbot, halibut, cod, haddocks, whiting, lobsters, and crabs; oysters of good quality are also found in great abundance. The trade of the port consists chiefly in the export of grain, cattle, and other agricultural produce, leather shoes, and a few other articles, which are sent to Glasgow, Belfast, and Liverpool; and in the importation of timber from the Baltic, iron, and coal. A good trade is also carried on for the supply of the town and the neighbouring district. The number of vessels registered as belonging to the port, in 1843, was thirty-four, of an aggregate burthen of 1895 tons; and the amount of duties paid at the custom-house during that year was considerable. ..
A market, which is amply supplied with provisions of all kinds, is held weekly, on Friday. Fairs are held annually, on the Tuesday before the first Wednesday in January, and the Tuesday before Kilton Hill fair in June, for horses; on the third Friday in April, the first and third Fridays in May, and the third Friday in July, August, September, and November, for cattle; and on the third Friday in October, for fruit. The post-office has a good delivery; and facility of communication is afforded by the great military road from Carlisle to Edinburgh, which passes through the town, and by vessels that frequent the harbour. The town was erected into a royal Burgh, in 1617, by charter of James VI., under which the government is vested in a provost, two bailies, a dean of guild, a treasurer, and thirteen common-councillors. There are no incorporated trades having exclusive privileges; but the magistrates may compel any one carrying on business within the burgh to enter as a burgess, for which the fee of admission varies from one to three guineas. The magistrates exercise both civil and criminal jurisdiction, and hold both bailie and dean-of-guild courts for the trial of cases within the burgh. ..
The parish, consisting of about forty acres, originally formed part of the parishes of Leswalt and Inch; its ecclesiastical affairs are under the superintendence of the presbytery of Stranraer, of which the town is the seat, and of the synod of Galloway. The minister's stipend is £158, including an allowance for communion elements, and of which £120 are paid from the exchequer; an allowance of £30 per annum is received in lieu of a manse, and the glebe is valued at £70 per annum; patron, the Crown. The old church, which contained 700 sittings, being condemned in 1833 as unsafe and incapable of repair, a temporary building of wood was erected by the minister for the use of the congregation; and the present church, which is a neat structure, was built by subscription in 1841. There are places of worship for members of the Free Church, United Secession, Reformed Presbyterians, and the Relief; and a Roman Catholic chapel. The Academy, erected in 1845, at a cost of £2000, is well attended; and a parochial or burgh schoolmaster has a salary of £20, and the fees." - edited from A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland, Samuel Lewis, 1846.



The parish of Stranraer shares the same boundaries as the Royal Burgh. As the town expanded, it spread into Inch and Leswalt parishes.

Places in Stranraer parish, with links to online historical and modern maps.

Please read the main GENUKI Wigtownshire pages if you have not already done so.

Archives and Libraries

Stranraer Museum, George Street. A museum which also houses some local records. Details of records here.

A separate Records Page page gives details of the records for this parish held by Scottish archives.

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


There are 7 cemeteries in Stranraer (4 in Stranraer parish, 1 in Inch parish and 2 in Leswalt parish):

1. Stranraer Old Parish Churchyard, Church Street (grid reference NX 059608, GPS: 54.904269,-5.028310, Google map): 2. Relief Church Burial Ground, Bridge Street (grid ref. NX 060607, GPS: 54.903801,-5.026878, Google map): 3. Thistle Street burial ground (grid ref. NX 063608, GPS: 54.904384,-5.02323, Google map): 4. Dalrymple Street burial ground (grid ref. NX 062606, GPS: 54.902969,-5.023410, Google map): 5. Ivy Place churchyard, London Road (grid ref. NX 064606, GPS: 54.9029,-5.020854, Google map): 6. Sheuchan Cemetery and extension, Leswalt High Road (grid ref. NX 055609, GPS: 54.905071,-5.034195, Google map): 7. Stranraer Glebe Cemetery, Moorefield (grid ref. NX 052604, GPS: 54.900278,-5.040128, Googlemap):


Parish / district reference number for 1841 - 1901 censuses: 899

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
Stranraer 1042848 1042557 103922 104113 224063 220463
(Data provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints)

Further information on the main GENUKI Wigtownshire page.

Church History

In addition to the parish church, other churches include a Free Church, a Burgher (United Secession) Church, an Associate Session (Antiburgher Church), a United Free Church, and a Roman Catholic Church. There was also a Free Church and a Church of Scotland at Sheuchan (see under Leswalt)

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 this information about Dissenters:

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

A census of Religious Worship and Education was taken in 1851 at the same time as the census of population. A table of statistics about the churches in Wigtownshire at this time is available here. The statistics for the separate burghs were also given. Those for Stranraer are as follows:

Stranraer (Royal Burgh): Population of Parish 3877, Population of Burgh 3877:

Religious Denomination Number of Places of Worship Number of Sittings Number of Attendants at Public Worship on Sunday March 30 1851 (including Sunday Scholars)
Free Appropriated Total Morning Afternoon Evening
Established Church 1 84 1000 1084 200 300  
Reformed Presbyterian Church 1 30 680 710 309 325  
United Presbyterian Church 3  122 1010 1792 [sic] 635 735  
Free Church 1 28 700 728 204 325 700
Roman Catholic Church 1       200    
Total 7 264 3390 4314 1638 1685 700
The number of sittings is not returned for one place of worship (belonging to the Established Church) out of the above seven places.

Source: Census of Great Britain, 1851, Religious worship and education. Scotland. Report and tables. British Parliamentary Papers 1854 LIX (1764).

The1865 Ecclesiastical Directory lists the parish church, the Free Church, 3 United Presbyterian Churches (Belvilla, Bridge Street and Ivy Place),  a Reformed Presbyterian Church, a Synod of Original Seceders, and a Roman Catholic Church.

Details of church history here.

Church websites: Trinity Church of Stranraer; St Joseph's.

Church Records

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: 899

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

Stranraer OPR Births / baptisms Proclamations / marriages Deaths / burials / mortcloths
899/1 1695-1819 1712-1819 -
899/2 1820-1854 1819-1853 1847-1850 (2 entries)
899/3 Index 1820-1854 - -
Register of Neglected Entries 1835-1854 -
(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.  Entries several years out of the order of time occasionally occur, and a number of interpolated entries in the portion after 1836. Mothers' names seldom recorded before 1775.
M.  (Proclamations and Marriages) Only one entry after March 1851. A number of Marriages of parishoners celebrated in Ireland are recorded.
[Subsequent to publication of the Detailed List, additional early entries of B. and M. were found, now included in 899/1, plus an index to B. 1820-1854 now included as 899/3.]

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:

1068042 Items 1 - 3 Baptisms, 1695-1855; Baptism Index, 1820-1854; Marriages, 1712-1854; Burials, 1847, 1850; Neglected Entries, 1835-1854.
(Data provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints)

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. Details of church records here.

There are no Heritors' Records at the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh.

Other Churches:

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

The Stranraer 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
Stranraer 899 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. It is important to remember that Stranraer parish was actually very small and that the registration district and the burgh boundaries changed as the town grew. Part of Stranraer registration district is in Inch parish, and part in Leswalt parish.

Description & Travel

Stranraer town centre Ordnance Survey Grid Reference GPS Post code Lat. 5454'17"N
NX 062608 54.904550
DG9 7JP Lon. 51'42"W

Surrounding parishes: Leswalt, Inch.


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


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

The GENUKI gazetteer will give a calculation of the distance from Stranraer 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.


The Stranraer 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.

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 Stranraer.

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. Details here.

Some estate papers can be found at the National Records of Scotland. Details of Stranraer records here.


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:

Merchant Marine

Sailors on board ships registered at Stranraer, Wigtown and Whithorn in 1851 are listed on CD: Scotland South-West, Highlands and Islands Seamen Crew Lists, 1851 available from Family History Indexes. The data is taken from TNA documents BT98/2735 (Stranraer), BT98/2794 (Wigtown) and BT98/2395 (Whitehorn [sic], wrongly included in Banff returns).

Military History

The Roll of Honour website records the names on the Stranraer war memorials. There is another listing on the Wigtownshire pages. 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 Stranraer records here.

Poorhouses, 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. Details of Stranraer records here.

The website has a lot of information about the Rhins of Galloway (Wigtownshire) Combination Poorhouse.


Year Population
1755 610
1801 1722
1851 3877
1901 2856
1951 1465

N.B. These figures are for the burgh and parish only. The town of Stranraer extended into the two neighbouring parishes of Inch and Leswalt. 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 Stranraer 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.


School Board records and / or school logbooks are held at the Ewart Library, Dumfries. Details of Stranraer records here.

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

School Board School Accommodation for scholars Average attendance
Stranraer Burgh Stranraer Academy 648 burned down 1894
Sheuchan 302 218
Elementary School 409 350
Elementary School 2 144 106
- St Joseph's Roman Catholic School 72 59


"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.


The burgh 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.

Town Records

Towns were usually referred to as Burghs in Scotland.

Records of the Burgh of Stranraer are held by Stranraer Museum and the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh. Details here.