"DUMFRIESSHIRE, maritime Co., on S. border of Scotland; adjoins the cos. of Lanark, Peebles, and Selkirk on the N., and on the S. is washed by the Solway Firth; extends about 53 miles NW. and SE. between Ayrshire and Cumberland, and about 32 miles NE. and SW. between Roxburghshire and Kirkcudbrightshire; coast-line, about 20 miles; area, 680,217 ac., pop. 76,140, or 72 persons to each sq. mile. The surface in general is bare and hilly. The dales of the Nith, Annan, and Esk, however, are rich in beauty, and contain fine holms for pasture and some good arable land. The rivers are numerous, and yield splendid salmon and trout fishing. The coast and S. region is low and sandy; much of it is covered with morass, and lochs are numerous around Lockerbie ; but there is also much excellent corn-growing land. The Lowther or Lead Hills along the N. boundary are upwards of 2000 ft. in height, and abound in lead ore. These and the other hills round the borders are mostly smooth in outline, and afford excellent pasturage. Red sandstone is a prevailing rock, and limestone. coal, and lead, are worked."
[Bartholemew's Gazetteer of the British Isles, 1887]
Local archives and libraries include:
- Dumfries Archive Centre, now at the Ewart Library (also see entry in ARCHON)
- Ewart Library, Catherine Street, Dumfries DG1 1JB
- Dumfries & Galloway Family History Society at 9 Glasgow Street, Dumfries, DG2 9AF, Scotland.Telephone: 0044 1387 248093. For the past two years DGFHS have been working on a project to digitise all their Memorial Inscriptions publications into a database which can be searched against Family Names. This database is NOT online, but access is offered in two ways...
- Members may email DGHFS and request a search against five names and the research results are emailed back as an attachment in RTF format. (Members may request any number of further searches and these are placed in queue for attention later.)
- ALL visitors to our Dumfries Research Centre, whether members or not, are given access to the database and the results may be downloaded to floppy disc or flash memory cards. There is NO charge for the service. This is essentially a service to members who are unable to access our Research Centre. As a courtesy, non-members who email requests are offered a single search.
The project is still ongoing, currently the database contains: 89,318 individual burial inscriptions taken from 20,600 monuments in 169 graveyards; 4,500 different family names (including variations) are recorded. With the exception of the most recent surveys carried out by our members these are partial graveyard records.
Information on local libraries in the county can also be found in:
- SLAINTE web pages (Scottish Libraries Across the Internet).
Details of local archives and libraries can also be found in the source booklet published by the Dumfries & Galloway Family History Society. (see the Bibliography section below).
Dumfries & Galloway: Some sources and places of interest for local and family history. An excellent guide published by the Dumfries & Galloway Family History Society in 1995. It gives information on libraries, museums, and places of interest.
Source material for the county and individual parishes can be found in the publication list of Dumfries & Galloway Family History Society.
RootsWeb publishes an online listing of churches and churchyards in Dumfries and Galloway, and a CDROM version with more photographs is "Digital Tours of Dumfries & Galloway -- 2K2 Edition" (570 Mb) 6,500 photographs: by Sandy Pittendreigh, available as one of Dumfries and Galloway FHS publications.
General advice on census records and indexes can be found on our Scotland Census page.
For information on parish registers (baptisms, marriages and burials) for a particular parish, please see that parish's page (where available).
General advice on parish registers throughout Scotland can be found on our Scotland Church Records page. The Kirk Session records of a parish can be useful source material and are often overlooked by researchers. The Kirk Session consists of the minister of the parish together with the elders of the congregation. Its role is largely to look after the general wellbeing of the congregation and, particularly in centuries past, parochial discipline. Most Kirk Session records are held in the National Records of Scotland in Edinburgh and can be fascinating reading.
Records of testaments, inventories etc. are held at the National Records of Scotland, in the records of the Dumfries Commissariot Court (before 1823) and the Dumfries Sheriff Court (after 1823).
The latest information on sights to see, recreation, and accommodations can be found on a site established by the Dumfries and Galloway Tourist Board.
A book which may be of interest is John Hume and Judith Anderson's Dumfries & Galloway: an illustrated architectural guide. As the title suggests, it concentrates on the architecture of the area. However it is well illustrated with hundreds of photographs and contains short descriptions and historical notes on many places.
- DUMFRIESSHIRE, extract from the National Gazetteer, 1868 provided by © Colin Hinson
You can place a lengthy genealogy query on the Dumfriesshire Message Board.
The Scottish Page is devoted to the research of Scottish ancestry, especially that of Dumfries and Galloway. It is worth browsing down the length of the long home page, it has links to a great miscellany of useful information.
The border counties were for many centuries the battleground between Scotland and England. Largely as a result of this the reiving tradition arose, something which only really died out with the Union of the Crowns in 1603. For a comprehensive history of the reiving times, read George MacDonald Fraser's The Steel Bonnets: the story of the Anglo-Scottish Border Reivers, first published in 1971 and reprinted regularly since.
The Burns Howff Club website provides information about Robert Burns, his life, works and his contribution to Scottish heritage.
- The Place Names of Dumfriesshire by Sir Edward Johnson-Ferguson, published in 1935.
Dumfries has had a local newspaper since 1777. The first was the Dumfries Weekly Journal, which was followed by the Dumfries Times, the Dumfries Courier, and the Dumfries Standard. These newspapers covered events in Dumfriesshire and Kirkcudbrightshire. A surname and subject index (1777 to 1925) has been compiled for these papers. The index (in book form) and the newspapers (on microfiche) are available at the Ewart Library. For a full listing of newspapers and periodicals in Dumfries and Galloway refer to The Waterloo directory of Scottish newspapers and periodicals.
The Dumfries & Galloway Family History Society covers this county. The society publishes a newsletter three times a year with interesting articles and information. There is also a section where you can place queries about your ancestors. The society has a family history research centre at 9 Glasgow Street, Dumfries.
Clan Armstrong is a society with a museum at Langholm.
The statistical accounts are the result of a series of questions that were directed to the ministers of each parish in Scotland. These reports provide a description of the social and economic life in the parishes and much more. The Old Statistical Account was compiled in the 1790s. The New Statistical Account was compiled in the 1840s (it has been microfilmed and may be consulted in LDS Family History Centres around the world). There is also a Third Statistical Account which was prepared in the 1940s
The "Statistical Account of Scotland", for both the 1790s and 1845 is now available on-line at the Edinburgh University Data Library (EDINA) web site They give an excellent insight into life at the time.