Description of the parish in 1846

Map showing the location of the parish "WIGTOWN, a royal burgh, a sea-port, the county town, and a parish, in the county of Wigton or Wigtown, 105 miles (S. W. by S.) from Edinburgh; containing, with the village of Bladnoch, 2562 inhabitants, of whom 1972 are in the town. ..
The parish is bounded on the east by Wigtown bay and on the south by the river Bladnoch, and is almost six miles in length and about four miles in breadth, comprising by estimation an area of nearly 7000 acres; about 2000 are arable, 2000 pasture, and the remainder plantations, moorland, and moss. ..
The ecclesiastical affairs are under the superintendence of the presbytery of Wigtown, of which this is the seat, and the synod of Galloway. The minister's stipend is £272. 0. 9., with an allowance of £30 in lieu of manse, and a glebe valued at £24 per annum; patron, Lord Galloway. The church, situated in a beautifully retired spot at the eastern extremity of the town, is a very ancient structure, but, from frequent alterations and repairs, retains little of its original character; it has 660 sittings. There are places of worship for members of the Free Church and United Secession; and a congregation of the Relief used formerly to assemble every Sabbath in the town-hall. Three schools are under the patronage of the corporation. One is the parochial and burgh grammar-school, conducted by a master who has a salary of £24, a sum of £10 allowed for an assistant, and a parochial salary of £11. 2. 3., the two first amounts being paid by the corporation; the other schools are for girls, and the mistresses respectively receive salaries of £12 and £10 a year from the burgh funds. The grammar-school, for which a spacious and elegant new building was erected at the close of the year 1845, is attended by from 120 to 150 pupils; and there are also Sabbath schools, in which about 300 children are taught." - edited from A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland, Samuel Lewis, 1846.



Places in Wigtown 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

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,


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

Business records can be found at the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh. More information here.


There are 3 cemeteries in Wigtown parish:

1. Wigtown Churchyard, Church Lane (reference NX 436555, GPS: 54.870000, -4.439100, Google map): 2. Wigtown Top Cemetery [sometimes called Wigtown High Cemetery], Jubilee Terrace (grid reference NX 430556, GPS: 54.870532, -4.448133, Google map): 3. Wigtown Park Cemetery, on the A714 about half a mile south of Wigtown (grid reference NX 428546, GPS: 54.861817,-4.449559, Google map):


Parish / district reference number for 1841 - 1901 censuses: 901

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
Wigtown 1042848 1042558 103922 104113 224064 220464
(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, and a United Associate Congregation. The Rootsweb Churches and Graveyards in Dumfries and Galloway site has photographs of the parish church, the churchyard and several gravestones.

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 Wigtown are as follows:

Wigtown (Parliamentary Burgh): Population of Parish 2824, Population of Burgh 2121:

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 1 600    600 303    
United Presbyterian Church 1 300   330 630 360    
Free Church 1 40 360  400 220    
Total 3 940 690 1630 883    

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 United Presbyterian Church, and the Free Church.

Details of church history here.

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: 901

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

Wigtown OPR Births / baptisms Proclamations / marriages Deaths / burials / mortcloths
901/1 1706-1819 1707-1782 -
901/2 1819-1854 1832 (1 entry) -
Register of Neglected Entries 1830  - -
(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.  Blank Nov. 1751 - Sept. 1753; but at that part are 12 irregular entries 1745 - 1768. Only 20 entries Sept. 1753 - Jan. 1771. Defective Oct. 1772 - Jan. 1779. Regular Record blank Dec. 1782 - Sept. 1799, but there are irregular entries on 5 pages. at that part, dated 1774 - 1798. Irregular entries, 1740 - 1761 (one family), recorded in 1829.
M.  Blank (except one entry 1754) Feb. 1752 - April 1772, and (except for one entry 1775) Dec. 1772 - April 1777. Record terminates June 1782, except 1 entry for 1832.
[Subsequent to publication of the Detailed List, additional early entries of B. and M. were found, now included in 901/1.]

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 6 - 7 Baptisms, 1706-1855; Marriages, 1707-1854, 1772-1782; Neglected Birth Entry, 1830.
(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. Details of church records here.

Heritors' Records (HR355) are at the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh. Details of records here.

Other Churches:

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

The Wigtown 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
Wigtown Burgh 901/1 1855 1855
Wigtown Landward 901/2 1855 1855
Wigtown 901 1856 1971
Wigtown 874 1972 2004
Dumfries & Galloway, Wigtown 874 2005  

Registration districts did not necessarily coincide exactly with parishes.

Description & Travel

Wigtown town centre Ordnance Survey Grid Reference GPS Post code Lat. 5452'3"N
NX 432552 54.867408
DG8 9HG Lon. 426'39"W

Surrounding parishes: Kirkinner, Penninghame, Kirkcowan (not touching but very close), and Kirkmabreck in Kirkcudbrightshire (via a ferry at Creetown).

Wigtown is Scotland's Book Town. Bookshops there have a good stock of books about Scotland, or by Scottish authors.


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

Rootsweb has a transcript of the Trades secion of an unidentified 1912 Wigtown Directory.


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

The GENUKI gazetteer will give a calculation of the distance from Wigtown 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 Wigtown parish page on the Wigtownshire Pages contains a lot of excellent genealogical material and some beautiful photographs.

The Wigtown Cultural Heritage Project has collected a large amount of information about the town.

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 Wigtown.

Wigtown's Heritage provides an historic journey around Wigtown's built heritage.

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 Wigtown 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 Wigtown war memorial. There is another listing on the Wigtownshire pages.

Names, Geographical

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


Year Population
1755 1032
1801 1475
1851 2824
1901 1747
1951 1608

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 Wigtown 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 Wigtown records here.

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

School Accommodation for scholars Average attendance
Wigtown burgh and parochial board school 276 231
School in connection with the Roman Catholic Church - 26


"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 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.

Town Records

Towns were usually referred to as Burghs in Scotland.

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

Voting Registers

Voters Rolls and electoral registers are held by Stranraer Museum and the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh. Details here.