Description of the parish in 1846

"KIRKCOLM, a parish, in the county of Wigtown, 6 miles (N. by W.) from Stranraer; containing 1793 inhabitants, of whom 391 are in the village. Kirkcolm is about five and a half miles in length and four in breadth. It forms a small peninsula, being bounded on the north and west by the sea; on the east by the bay of Loch Ryan; and on the south by the parish of Leswalt. ..
The crops of wheat, oats, and barley on lands covered fifty years back with whins and heath, show the great progress of the parish; but the climate is bleak and rainy, and not favourable to the highest improvement of the soil. ..
The only village is Stewartown, where the young women, as in most other parts of the parish, are chiefly employed in embroidering muslin webs. The basin called the Wig, on the coast of Loch Ryan, is a convenient and safe retreat for vessels, two or three of which, under forty tons' burthen, belong to Kirkcolm. Corswall lighthouse was finished in 1816.
The ecclesiastical affairs are subject to the presbytery of Stranraer and synod of Galloway; patrons, James Carrick Moore, Esq., etc. The stipend of the minister is £216, with a good manse, and a glebe of ten acres, valued at £15 per annum. The church is a commodious and substantial edifice, accommodating 650 persons; it was built in 1824, and is in good repair. There is a parochial school; the master has a house and garden, with a salary of £27, and about £18 in fees." - edited from A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland, Samuel Lewis, 1846.


The village of Kirkcolm was formerly called Stewarton.


Archives & 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


There are 2 cemeteries in Kirkcolm parish:

1. Kirkcolm Old Churchyard, off Main Street, Kirkclom (grid reference NX 030688, GPS: 54.975240, -5.078908):


2. Ervie-Kirkcolm Churchyard and cemetery extension, Church Road, Kirkcolm (grid ref. NX 026686, GPS: 54.973507, -5.083998):



Parish / district reference number for 1841 - 1901 censuses: 887

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
Kirkcolm 1042846 1042555 103921 104112 224060 220459
(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 at Kirkcolm there was also a Free Church.

A list of all persons over 12 years of age, collected under instructions to the Episcopalian 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 1837) gives this information:

  • Since the beginning of 1822 the births and proclamations, except in the case of Dissenters, have been regularly entered [in the parish registers].
  • There are no Dissenting chapels; the Dissenters go to the Dissenting meeting-houses of their several persuasions in Stranraer. There are 40 families of Dissenters. They belong chiefly to the 2 congregations of the United Secession, and to the Reformed Presbyterian congregation; a few belong to the Relief congregation. [Together with the] families of poor Catholics [they] make up a total of 191 persons not belonging to the Established Church.

The1865 Ecclesiastical Directory lists the parish church and the Free Church.

Details of church history:

  • Kirkcolm Parish Church
Kirkcolm Church was dedicated to St Columba and it formerly belonged to the Abbey of Sweetheart. Ministry of the Kirkcolm Kirk Session is recorded from 1565 in the person of Michael Hathorn. In 1950 Kirkcolm united with Ervie under the name of Ervie and Kirkcolm. After the union both churches remained in use and in 1985 the united session established a link with Leswalt. 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.

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: 887

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

Kirkcolm OPR Births / baptisms Proclamations / marriages Deaths / burials / mortcloths
887/1 1755-1820 1791-1820 1794-1819
887/2 1820-1854 1820-1854 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 original Record appears to have been commenced about 1790; but prefixed to it are 4 pages of irregular entries, dated 1779 - 1814, with one entry 1775. After 1819 is a copy of the Record. in which the irregular entries seem to be incorporated in chronological order.
M.  Proclamation of Banns. In duplicate.
D.  (Burials.) Only one entry before Jan. 1796. Original blank May 1812 - Jan. 1818, and ends Oct. 1818; but there is a copy, in which the blank is only May 1812 - March 1816, with three entries under 1815, and which is continued as the principal Register.

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:

1068037 Items 1 - 2 Baptisms, 1775-1855; Marriages, 1791-1854; Promiscuous Birth Entries, 1831-1854; Burials, 1794-1854.
(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 (HR44) are at the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh.

At the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh:

  • CH2/788
    Kirkcolm Kirk Session
    Minutes, 1822-1884; Accounts, 1855-1928; Baptismal register, 1855-1872; Proclamation register, 1855-1870 and 1888-1951; Communion roll, 1834-1840 and 1845-1952; Hall committee minutes, 1925-1931; Sabbath School library subscriber's book, 1849-1862; Miscellaneous papers, including certificates of character, receipts and correspondence, 18th and 19th cent. including: Certificate signed by James Kennedy, South Cairn, that Christie McFee, a native of parish of Kirkcolm, 'for a number of years she was considered a first rate hand at flowering with the needle ... About nine years ago she became subject to epilepsy and has gradually become worse until the attacks have become so violent as to bring on mental imbecility' 12 April 1843 ; Papers relating to county elections, road repairs, and rural policing, 1792-1845; Extracts of kirk session minutes and related papers, 1810- 1872; Correspondence and related papers re property tax, 1792-1863; Register of Baptisms and Marriages, 1845-1882; Minute book 1789-1851, 1884-1966.
  • HR44
    Kirkcolm parish heritors' records
    Minutes, 1818-1928; Question for Kirk Session, 1902; Extracts showing allocation of stipend, 1921.
  • GD154
    Papers of the Agnew Family of Lochnaw, Wigtownshire
    Heritors of Kirkcolm, 1729-1788.

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; Baptisms, 1843-1854; Communion Roll, 1879-89; Adherents, 1879-89; Baptisms, 1865-1895; Minutes, 1892-1950; Deacons' court minutes, 1850-1886, 1887-1936; Communion roll, 1900-1952.
    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:

    304671 Item 14 Kirkcolm Free Church Baptisms, 1843-1854. Original documents: National Records of Scotland - CH3/198/1-2,4
    1562923 Items 6-7 Session minutes, 1849-1865; baptisms, 1843-1854 (another filming); communion rolls, 1844, 1854-1855; Session minutes, 1865-1892; communion roll, 1879-1889; adherents, 1879-1889; baptisms, 1878-1895; Deacons' minutes, 1850-1886.    
    (Data provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints)

The Kirkcolm 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
Kirkcolm 887 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.


Description & Travel

Kirkcolm village Ordnance Survey Grid Reference GPS Post code Lat. 54°58'26"N
NX 028687 54.973814
DG9 0NP Lon. 5°4'52"W  

Surrounding parishes: Leswalt.

You can see pictures of Kirkcolm which are provided by:



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




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

Historical Geography

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


Land & 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 Kirkcolm.

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. Kirkclom 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.
  • IRS87/6-8
    Valuation Office (Scotland): Field Book, 1910-1920: Kirkcolm Parish
    Entries 1-100, 101-200, 201-228..
  • 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.

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 "Kirkcolm" and reference starts "GD". Collections particularly worth searching are:

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


You can see maps centred on OS grid reference NX004689 (Lat/Lon: 54.97422, -5.120185), Kirkcolm which are provided by:


Names, Geographical

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

At the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh:

  • RH4/23/228 and RH4/23/229
    Ordnance Survey Original Object Name Books for Scotland: Wigtownshire
    Parishes of Kirkcolm (book 2); Inch and Kirkcolm (book 3); Kirkcolm and Leswalt (books 15 and 16); Inch and Kirkcolm (book 17); Inch (book 18); Inch, Kirkcolm and Leswalt (book 19).

Poor Houses, Poor Law

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.

The workhouses.org.uk website has some information about the Kirkcolm almshouses.



Year Population
1755 765
1801 1191
1851 2018
1901 1506
1951 1635

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 Kirkcolm 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:

  • CO4/33
    Kirkcolm Parish Records
    Parochial Board Minute Book, 1845-1857, 1857-1888, 1889-1921; Parochial Board General Register of the Poor, 1845-1896; Parish Council Minute Book, 1921-1927, 1927-1930; Parish Council General Register of the Poor, 1896-1930.


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

At the Ewart Library, Dumfries:

  • EW5/28
    Kirkcolm Public School
    Log books (including the log book for Mahaar, 1929-1934), 1875-1934; Admissions and withdrawals registers (Kirkcolm Public School), 1899-1958; Admissions and withdrawals registers (Kirkcolm Village School), 1878-1965; Inspectors' reports, 1889-1934; Daily registers (Kirkcolm Primary and Junior Secondary), 1958-1979 (incomplete); Summaries with weekly class abstracts, 1963-1979 (incomplete); Records of work, 1970-1971. (Access restricted)
    This school was originally a parish school whose teacher supplemented his income by doubling as registrar, session clerk and precentor. The buildings were erected in 1820 and were replaced in 1938. The pupils came from a rural background. Its status was upgraded to that of a junior secondary in 1951 when it became known as Kirkcolm Junior Secondary School. Its infant or primary department may have been known as Mahaar School which closed in 1965.
  • EW5/42
    Mahaar School
    Log books, 1924-1965; Daily registers, 1954-1965 (incomplete); Summaries and abstracts, 1961, 1962. (Closed)
    This was originally a parish school erected in 1820. In 1866 its master doubled as registrar and session clerk. It was downgraded to primary school status in 1951. It was closed by the local authority in 1965 and its pupils transferred to Kirkcolm Primary.
  • EW5/26
    Dhuloch School
    Log books, 1860-1959; Admissions and withdrawals registers, 1873-1959; Attendance registers, 1949-1960; Summaries of attendance, 1947-1948, 1953-1960; Registers of continuance classes in country dance, 1952-1953, and dressmaking, 1951-1952; Sunday school register, undated. (Access restricted).
    The school was endowed by the Ferguson Bequest and managed by trustees who included the minister. It was downgraded to a primary school in 1950. It was closed in 1959.

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

School Accommodation for scholars Average attendance
Douloch public 90 52
Kirkcolm public 168 98
"the village school" 49 40


"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 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.