Open a form to report problems or contribute information

 
1 Introduction 2 Message details 3 Upload file 4 Submitted

Help and advice for Whithorn

If you have found a problem on this page then please report it on the following form. We will then do our best to fix it. If you are wanting advice then the best place to ask is on the area's specific email lists. All the information that we have is in the web pages, so please do not ask us to supply something that is not there. We are not able to offer a research service.

If you wish to report a problem, or contribute information, then do use the following form to tell us about it.

We are in the process of upgrading the site to implement a content management system.

Whithorn

Description of the parish in 1846

"WHITHORN, a royal burgh and a parish, in the county of Wigton, 11 miles (S.) from Wigtown, containing, with the village of Isle of Whithorn, 2795 inhabitants, of whom 495 are in Isle of Whithorn, and 1502 in the burgh. .. The parish is about eight miles in extreme length, and varies from two to five miles in breadth, comprising an area of 10,000 acres, of which the whole, with the exception of about 200 acres of meadow and a little waste, is arable. .. The chief crops are, wheat, oats, bear, barley, potatoes, and turnips. The system of husbandry is making steady progress; a due rotation of crops is uniformly observed; the farm-buildings are substantial, and roofed with slate, and the lands mostly inclosed with stone dykes. .. The ecclesiastical affairs are under the superintendence of the presbytery of Wigtown and synod of Galloway. The minister's stipend is £246. 15. 9., with a manse, and a glebe valued at £20 per annum; patron, the Crown. The church, erected on part of the site of the priory in 1822, is a substantial and neat structure containing 800 sittings: in the churchyard are the only remains of the priory and cathedral, conveying but a faint idea of the ancient grandeur of the buildings. There are places of worship for members of the Free Church, the Secession Synod, and Reformed Presbyterians, and a Roman Catholic chapel. Of the two parochial schools, one is in the burgh and the other at Isle of Whithorn: the master of the burgh school has a salary of £39, with £6. 6. in lieu of a dwelling-house, and the other master a salary of £19. 10.; the school fees averaging £50 per annum in the aggregate." - edited from A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland, Samuel Lewis, 1846.

The parish includes Whithorn and the Isle of Whithorn. Places in Whithorn parish

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

Bibliography

Wigtown and Whithorn : historical and descritptive sketches, stories and anecdotes, illustrative of the racy wit & pawky humor of the district, by Gordon Fraser, 1877, is avaiable at the Internet Archive.

Business and Commerce Records

At the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh:

Numerous papers concerning businesses in Whithorn are to be found in Court of Sesion records and the records of dissolved companies. They can be found by searching the National Records of Scotland catalogue for "Whithorn" and reference starts "CS" or reference starts "BT2".

At the Ewart Library, Dumfries:

  • EGD/96
    Papers of a Whithorn Grocer
    Stock book of an unidentified grocer at [ ] Road, Whithorn, 1899.

At the Glasgow City Archives:

  • CWS
    Scottish Co-operative Wholesale Society
    Records of the Bladenoch and Whithorn Creamery, 1899-1973, .

Cemeteries

There are 2 cemeteries in Whithorn parish:

1. Whithorn St Ninian's Old Churchyard, Bruce Street, Whithorn (grid reference NW 443404, GPS: 54.733566,-4.417588, Google map

2. Whithorn St Ninian's New Cemetery, St John Street, Whithorn (grid ref. NW 444404, GPS: 54.734195,-4.416574, Google map):

Census

Parish / district reference number for 1841 - 1901 censuses: 900

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

There is a transcript of the 1851 census on the Maxwell Ancestry site.

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
Whithorn 1042848 1042557 103922 104113 224064 220464
(Data provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints)

Further information on the main GENUKI Wigtownshire page.

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

Church History

In addition to the parish church, other churches include an Associate Congregation (later United Pesbyterian), a Free Church, and a Reformed Presbyterian church.

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:

  • there are a few sectaries of the Cameronian and Antiburgher descriptions.

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

  • Besides the church, there are 3 other places of worship - one for the Associate Synod, one for the Reformed Presbyterian Synod, and one for the Roman Catholics. 2 of these have no settled pastor; the congregations attending them are widely dispersed over different parishes and very inconsiderable in number compared with the number attending the established church.
  • Families belonging to the Established Church- 420; to the Associate Synod - 45; to the Cameronians - 27. Roman Catholic families - 12.
  • There is a considerable number of poor Irish families that belong to no place of worship.

The1865 Ecclesiastical Directory lists the parish church, the Free Church (Whithorn & Isle), the United Presbyterian Church, and the Reformed Presbyterian Church.

Details of church history:

  • Whithorn Parish Church
The church of Whithorn originally belonged to the Priory of Whitern, which was founded in 1153. Within the priory church , which served as cathedral for the See of Galloway, there existed a shrine to St Ninian, which in medieval times drew in large numbers of pilgrims. After the reformation the nave of the priory church was made the parish church and it remained so until 1822 when a new parish church was erected close by. After the 1929 union of the Church of Scotland and the United Free Church, Whithorn parish church was united with the former United Free Church congregation of Whithorn St Ninians under the name of Whithorn St Ninians Priory. Following the union the old parish church remained in use as the place of Worship. Whithorn St Ninians Priory was later linked in 1990 with Glasserton and Isle of Whithorn. The kirk session sat within the Presbytery of Wigtown until by Act of Assembly, 1963, the Presbytery of Wigton and the Presbytery of Stranraer were united under the name of the Presbytery of Wigtown and Stranraer.
  • Whithorn Associate Congregation (later United Presbyterian and St John's United Free, united with Whithorn St Ninian's United Free):
Whithorn Associate Congregation, which belonged to the Antiburgher branch of the Secession church, first recieved mention within the Secession records at the Synod in May 1793, when a call was presented to Mr John Mitchell. The first church of Whithorn Associate is believed to have been built in 1790 and the first minister of the congregation, John Smith, was ordained in 1795. A new church was later opened for worship on the 9th March 1892. In 1900, upon the union of the Free Church and the United Presbyterians, Whithorn U.P. was renamed Whithorn St John's United Free Church, and the charge was later reduced in status in 1910. In 1913 however Whithorn St John's was united with the congregation of Whithorn St Ninian's, under the name of Whithorn. After this local union the former St John's church and manse continued in use. Following the 1929 union between the Church of Scotland and the United Free Church, Whithorn U.F. became Whithorn St Ninian's Church of Scotland and a union was established in 1937 with the congregation of Whithorn Priory, under the name of Whithorn St Ninian's Priory. As a result of this union the former St Ninian's church and manse were sold. Whithorn Associate congregation sat within the U.P. Presbytery of Galloway and later the U.F. Presbytery of Wigtown and Stranraer.
  • Whithorn Free Church (later St. Ninian's United Free, then united with Whithorn, St. John's, United Free church):
Whithorn Free Church was formed in July 1843, with Whithorn and Isle of Whithorn at first sanctioned as separate charges under one minister. A church was erected in the following year. In 1876 a separate minister was settled in Isle of Whithorn. Whithorn FC passed to the United Free Church as Whithorn St Ninian's, which united with Whithorn St John's in 1913, using the St John's church and manse thereafter. The UFC charge was in the presbytery of Wigtown and Stranraer and the synod of Dumfries and Galloway.
  • Whithorn Reformed Presbyterian Church:
-

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: 900

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

Whithorn OPR Births / baptisms Proclamations / marriages Deaths / burials / mortcloths
900/1 1712-1819 1712-1819 -
900/2 1819-1854 1820-1854 -
(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.  The regular Record does not commence till May 1796. Prefixed to this are four pages containing 96 irregular entries dated between 1763 and 1844. On p. 112 are 33 irregular entries1789 - 1819.
M. One entry for 1788 recorded after Aug. 1811.
[Subsequent to publication of the Detailed List, additional early entries of B. and M. were found, now included in 900/1.]

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 4 - 5 Baptisms, 1712-1855; Marriages, 1716-1742, 1796-1855.
(Data provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints)

Further information on the main GENUKI Wigtownshire page.

Kirk Session records are held at the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh.

Heritors' Records (HR332) are at the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh.

At the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh:

  • CH2/402
    Whithorn Kirk Session
    Minutes, 1712-1722, and 1866-1915; Collections and distributions, 1712-1740; Collections, 1922-1937; Discipline, 1905-1920; Baptismal register, 1879-1918; Communion Roll, 1868-1936; Poor's fund accounts, 1811-1843; Poor's fund minutes, 1801-1843, 1829-1843; Cash book, 1910-1937; Accounts, 1913-1939; Proclamation register, 1925-1977.
  • HR332
    Whithorn parish heritors' records
    Minutes, 1862-1914, 1921-1933; Accounts, 1879-1928; Minute of agreement relating to priory and old church, 1908; Plans of church, 1913-1915.

Other Churches:

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

At the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh:

  • CH3/308
    Whithorn Associate Congregation (later United Presbyterian and St John's United Free, united with Whithorn St Ninian's United Free)
    Session minutes, 1795-1810 (contains 1 marriage, 1802), 1835-1840, 1848-1850 and 1895-1936; Congregational Board minutes, 1913-1937; Trustee's minutes, 1937-1940; Communion roll, 1835-1843 and 1881-1937; Baptisms, 1852-1912; Signatures to formula, 1874-1926; Seat rent accounts, 1821-1830; Cash book, 1832-1912; Mission fund accounts, 1881-1908; Sunday school accounts, 1925-1936; Cash book, 1832-1912; Mission fund accounts, 1881-1908; Sunday school accounts, 1925-1936.
    The registers are being made available on the ScotlandsPeople website.

    The LDS have filmed the following records which may be consulted at LDS Family History Centres.
    LDS Library Film Numbers:

    889475 Item 4 Whithorn Associate Congregation Minutes, 1795-1802; with 1 marriage, 1802. Original documents: National Records of Scotland - CH3/308/1
    1886484 Session minutes (with marriage, 1802), 1793-1810, 1835-1840, 1848-1850, 1895-1911. Communion roll ante, 1835-1840, 1881-1912; baptisms 1852-1912. Seat rent accounts, 1812-1830. Original documents: National Records of Scotland - CH3/308/1,5,8
    (Data provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints)
  • CH3/801
    Whithorn Free Church (later St. Ninian's United Free, then united with Whithorn, St. John's, United Free church)
    Minutes, 1843-1913; Communion roll, 1843-1914; Baptismal register, 1843-1921.
    The registers are being made available on the ScotlandsPeople website.

At the Scottish Catholic Archives, Edinburgh:

  • HC/59
    Parishes: magazines, bulletins, invitations to events, etc.
    31. Galloway - Whithorn

At the Hornel Library, Broughton House:

  • Whithorn Reformed Presbyterian Church
    Baptisms, 1826-1832; Marriages, 1827-1832; Baptisms in other congregations, 1826-1832.
Access restricted. All enquiries should be addressed to: The Archivist, National Trust for Scotland, 28 Charlotte Square, Edinburgh, EH2 4ET.

The Whithorn 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
Whithorn Burgh 900/1 1855 1855
Whithorn Landward 900/2 1855 1855
Whithorn 900 1856 1971
Whithorn 875 1972 2004
Dumfries & Galloway, Whithorn 875 2005  

Registration districts did not necessarily coincide exactly with parishes.

Court Records

At the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh:

  • SC19/35/4
    Wigtown Sherrif Court Records, Small Debt Court Books
    Whithorn Circuit, Jan. 1838 - Nov. 1854.

Description and Travel

Whithorn village Ordnance Survey Grid Reference GPS Post code Lat. 54°44'1"N
NX 445401 54.733555
-4.416594
DG8 8PY Lon. 4°25'00"W

Surrounding parishes: Glasserton, Sorbie.

You can see pictures of Whithorn 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 Whithorn parish, with links to online historical and modern maps.

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

Sasines:

At the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh:

  • B/71
    Whithorn Burgh Records
    Register of sasines, 1684-1935; Register of sasines minutes, 1867-1944.

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. Whithorn records:

At the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh:

  • VR83
    Valuation Rolls: Whithorn Burgh
    1855-1930; the Roll from 1930 is included in the Valuation Roll for the County of Wigtown; the rolls for 1855, 1865, 1875, 1885, 1895, 1905, 1915, 1920, 1925 and 1930 are online at the ScotlandsPeople website
  • 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.
  • IRS87/76-80
    Valuation Office (Scotland): Field Book, 1910-1920: Whithorn Burgh
    Entries 1-384, plus various supplementary.
  • IRS87/81-83
    Valuation Office (Scotland): Field Book, 1910-1920: Whithorn Parish
    Entries 1-260.
  • 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 Stranraer Museum:

  • WH
    Whithorn Burgh Records
    Valuation roll, 1858-1859.

Estate Records

At the Ewart Library, Dumfries:

  • EGD/104
    Rent book, Whithorn
    Rent book for lands of Cavans and Appleby (in parish of Glasserton), 1756-1789, with manuscript transcription, undated.

At the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh:

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

  • GD10
    Papers of the Murray Family of Broughton, Wigtownshire, and Cally, Kirkcudbrightshire
  • GD25
    Papers of the Kennedy Family, Earls of Cassillis (Ailsa Muniments)
  • GD30
    Papers of the Shairp family of Houston, West Lothian
  • GD135
    Papersof the Dalrymple Family, Earls of Stair
  • GD154
    Papers of the Agnew Family of Lochnaw, Wigtownshire
  • GD455
    Papers of the Hathorn family of Castlewigg, Wigtownshire

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 NX445401 (Lat/Lon: 54.731781, -4.416537), Whithorn which are provided by:

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).

Names, Geographical

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

At the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh:

  • RH4/23/236 and RH4/23/237
    Ordnance Survey Original Object Name Books for Scotland: Wigtownshire
    Parishes of Glasserton, Mochrum, Sorbie and Whithorn (book 76); Glasserton, Kirkinner, Sorbie and Whithorn (book 77); Sorbie and Whithorn (book 78); Glasserton, Sorbie and Whithorn (book 79); Sorbie, Stoneykirk and Whithorn (book 80); Glasserton, Sorbie and Whithorn (book 84); Glasserton and Whithorn (book 85).

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 1412
1801 1904
1851 3001
1901 2235
1951 1910

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 Whithorn 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:

  • CO4/46
    Whithorn Parish Records
    Parochial Board Minute Book, 1863-1885, 1885-1895; Parochial Board General Register of the Poor, 1848-1930; Parish Council Minute Book, 1908-1930.

Schools

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

At the Ewart Library, Dumfries:

  • EW5/54
    Isle of Whithorn School
    Log books, 1881-1906, 1923-1978; Admissions and withdrawals registers, 1873-1977. (Access restricted)
    This was originally a parish school and the buildings were erected 1826. By 1858 the master doubled as the registrar and the school roll was 24 boys and 28 girls. In 1939 it came under the control of the master of Glenwhilly School which had closed.
  • EW5/8/2
    Glasserton (Whithorn and Sorbie) School Board
    Register of mortgages (including receipts, 1918-1919), 1875-1894.
  • EW5/61
    Whithorn Junior Secondary School
    Log books, 1873-1914, 1949-1974. (Access restricted)
  • EW5/8/1
    Whithorn, Glasserton and Sorbie School Management Committee
    Minutes, 1947-1949. (Closed until 1/01/2025)

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

School Accommodation for scholars Average attendance
Glasserton Road 191 171
Isle 131 81
Principal 177 149

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 and burgh listings 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.

At the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh:

  • E60/5/12
    Particular Taxt Rolls
    Whithorn Priory, 1630.
  • E66/13
    Taxations 1630: Accounts and vouchers of rests in ordinary taxations of 1625 and 1630
    1-9. Bishop of Galloway for Whithorn priory (1630), 16 Nov. 1631-13 Jan. 1634.
  • E209/80
    Whithorn (regality), bailie
    1696-1712.
  • E236/83/1
    Whithorn (regality), Bailie Accounts
    15 May 1697-15 May 1712.

Town Records

Towns were usually referred to as Burghs in Scotland.

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

At the Stranraer Museum:

  • WH
    Whithorn Burgh Records
    Minutes, 1901-1974; Municipal Corporation Commissioners report on the burgh, 1833; Oaths of magistrates, councillors and officials, 1873-1967; Abstracts of accounts, 1967-1974; Valuation roll, 1858-1859; Ledgers and cash books, 1949-1972; Miscellanea, 1931, 1969; 'Collected documents' (mainly writs and law papers, including copy rentals of income due to Whithorn priory before and after 1560, undated, and signet letters, Lord Fleming v. the tenants of Whithorn, 1594), 16th - 20th cent.

At the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh:

  • B/71
    Whithorn Burgh Records
    Register of sasines, 1684-1935; Register of sasines minutes, 1867-1944.