Description of the parish in 1846

"PORTPATRICK, a burgh of barony, sea-port, and parish, in the county of Wigtown, 6 and a half miles (S. W.) from Stranraer, and 34 (W.) from Wigtown; containing 2043 inhabitants, of whom 996 are in the burgh. ..
The town is finely situated on the western shore of the peninsula formed by the bay of Luce and Loch Ryan, and is nearly opposite to the town of Donaghadee, on the Irish coast, from which it is only twenty-one miles distant. The chief trade of the town is derived from its being the principal packet-station for conveying the government mails to Ireland; and from the fisheries off the coast. There are at present four vessels only belonging to the port, which is merely a creek under that of Stranraer. They are of from twenty to eighty tons each, and chiefly employed in the coasting-trade, which consists principally in the exportation of agricultural produce, and the importation of cattle and lime from Ireland, and coal from Ayr. The herring-fishery was formerly considerable, but has recently been altogether superseded by the cod-fishery. Portpatrick was erected into a burgh of barony by charters of James VI. and Charles I., but the charters have never been carried into operation, nor have any magistrates for the burgh been appointed; a justice of peace for the county presides over the district, and a constable is resident here, under a superintendent at Stranraer, the nearest market-town. The post-office has a tolerable good delivery; and facility of communication is afforded by the turnpike-roads to Glasgow and Dumfries, and by the post-office steam-packets, of which two are stationed here for the conveyance of the mail to Donaghadee, and which also take passengers. The parish is about four miles and a half in extreme length and four miles in extreme breadth, comprising an area of 9300 acres, of which 6300 are arable, 300 woodland and plantations, and the remainder meadow, pasture, and waste. ..
The ecclesiastical affairs are under the superintendence of the presbytery of Stranraer and synod of Galloway. The minister's stipend is £158. 6. 8., of which about one-half is paid from the exchequer; with a manse, and a glebe valued at £30 per annum: patron, Col. Blair. The old church, erected in 1628, was a cruciform structure with a circular belfry turret, and contained 300 sittings; but it was in very indifferent repair, and a new church has been just completed. The members of the Free Church have a place of worship. The parochial school is well conducted; the master has a salary of £30, with a house and garden, and the fees average about £25 per annum. Of several other schools some are partly endowed, and others supported solely by the fees: for one, a handsome house has been erected in the rural part of the parish by Col. Blair and his sister. There are also Sabbath schools, to which, and to the parochial school, libraries are attached; and the poor receive the proceeds of a bequest of £180 by a former Earl of Stair." - edited from A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland, Samuel Lewis, 1846.


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

Business & Commerce Records

At the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh:

Extensive records of various railway companies can be found by searching the National Records of Scotland catalogue for "Portpatrick" and "railway".



There are 2 cemeteries in Portpatrick parish:

1. Portpatrick Churchyard, St Patrick Street (grid reference NW 999542, GPS: 54.842645, -5.116686)


2. Portpatrick Cemetery, Merrick Terrace (grid ref. NX 004545, GPS: 54.84608, -5.109361):

  • A listing of monumental inscriptions can be purchased from the Dumfries and Galloway Family History Society.
  • The graveyard is administered by Local Services, Culhorn Depot, Commerce Road, Stranraer, DG9 7DE. Tel: 03033 333000


Parish / district reference number for 1841 - 1901 censuses: 896

The Rev. Andrew Urquhart conducted his own census of the parish in 1832, 1844, 1846, 1852 and 1853. They were published as The Urquhart Censuses of Portpatrick, 1832-1853 by the Scottish Record Society in 1980 and can be purchased from the Scottish Genealogy Society.

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
Portpatrick 1042847 1042557 103921 104113 224063 220462
(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, 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 1838) gives this information:

  • There are no places of worship in the parish besides the Established Church.
  • Denomination No. of members of all ages No. of communicants No. of sittings in congregations in Stranraer
    Establishment 1591 437  
    Episcopalians attending the Established Church 24 3  
    Catholics 114 32 15
    Reformed Presbyterians 46 23 22
    United Secession 161 52 53
    Relief 55 18 12
    Total Presbyterian Protestant Dissenters 262    

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

Details of church history:

  • Portpatrick Kirk Session
Prior to the reformation there existed at Portpatrick a place of worship called Chapel Patrick, which was dedicated to the Apostle of Ireland. Joined to this chapel was a district by the name of the Black Quarter of Inch. In 1628 Chapel Patrick was rebuilt and the Black Quarter was disjoined from Inch and erected as the Parish of Montgomorie. The name of the parish however was changed after only two or three years to that of Portpatrick. A new parish church was later erected on a different site in 1842. In 1930 the parish church of Portpatrick was united with the former United Free Church congregation of Portpatrick Trinity. After the local union the Trinity Church became the church hall. In 1987 Portpatrick was linked with Stranraer St Ninian's. The kirk session sat within the Presbytery of Stranraer until the restructuring of the presbyteries in 1976 when it became part of the Presbytery of Wigtown and Stranraer.
  • Portpatrick Free Church Kirk Session, later Trinity United Free
Portpatrick Free Church was formed at the Disruption, when part of the congregation adhered to the Free Church. A church was built in the same year (replaced 1887). It passed successively to the United Free Church, as Portpatrick Trinity, and to the Church of Scotland, as Portpatrick Trinity, which united with Portpatrick as Portpatrick in 1930. The UFC charge was in the presbytery of Wigtown and Stranraer and the synod of Dumfries and Galloway.

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: 896

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

Portpatrick OPR Births / baptisms Proclamations / marriages Deaths / burials / mortcloths
896/1 1720-1819 - -
896/2 - 1720-1819 1783-1818
896/3 1820-1854 1820-1854 -
Register of Neglected Entries 1838 - -
(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. 1724 - Aug. 1727, April 1730 - June 1733, and (except for one entry) Oct. 1735 - June 1737. Also Dec. 1752 - April 1756, except one entry 1753. Irregular and defective 1756 - 1782 inclusive. Pages of Record 1790 - 1819 subscribed by the Minister.
M.  Blank Feb. 1730 - Oct. 1733. No entries for 1736, 1739, 1742, and blank (except for a few entries 1739) Jan. 1753 - Nov. 1765. Entries somewhat irregular as to dates about 1753 - 1766. Names of witnesses often added to the entries after 1779. Pages after 1773 certified by Minister.
D.  (Deaths and Burials.) Blank Aug. 1785 - Aug. 1817 (except one entry 1813). Ends Aug. 1818, except for one entry for 1841.

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:

1068040 Items 3 - 4 Baptisms, 1719-1820; Marriages, 1720-1819; Burials, 1783-1818.
1068041 Item 1 Baptisms, 1819-1854; Marriages, 1819-1854; Neglected Birth Entry, 1838.
(Data provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints)


The New Statistical Account (written in 1838) gives this information:
"Portpatrick was long celebrated as the Gretna Green for Ireland. Parties who could not obtain ecclesiastical sanction of their marriage on the other side of the channel, with all the expedition or secrecy which the opposition of relatives or other circumstances rendered desirable, found their way to this place, and on satisfying the minister that there was no legal objection to their union, were admitted to the benefit of proclamation in the parish church immediately on their arrival, and were married without delay. These marriages are registered in the records of the kirk-session, and attested by the minister and the witnesses. The fees exacted on these occasions varied according to the rank and ability of the parties. The lowest sum that was accepted at one time was L.5, but it was latterly raised to L.10, payable to the minister, and L.1 to the session-clerk. This practice was abandoned in 1826, in consequence of the interference of the church courts; but during the preceding period of about fifty years, the records of these marriages exhibits the names of 198 gentlemen, 15 officers of the army or navy, and 13 noblemen."

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.

Lists of Male Heads of Families, 1834-1841, gathered as a result of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland's 1834 Veto Act have been transcribed by Old Scottish Genealogy and Family History. Kirk Session records are held at the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh. There are some baptisms, proclamations and burials recorded in the Kirk Session records:

  • CH2/686/3 - Baptisms, 1856-1878, Proclamations, 1853-1920
  • CH2/686/8 - burial ground register, 1779-1824; proclamations of banns of marriage and records of baptisms, 1814-1825 (fragmentary)

Heritors' Records (HR793) are at the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh.

At the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh:

  • CH2/686
    Portpatrick Kirk Session
    Minutes, 1727-1766 and 1779-1853 (contains burial ground register 1779-1824, and a few proclamations and baptisms 1814-1825); Electoral committee minutes, 1931; Baptisms, 1856-1878; Proclamations, 1853-1920; List of male heads of families, 1834-1841; Communion roll, 1832, 1889-1918 and 1920-1939.
  • HR793
    Portpatrick parish heritors' records
    Minutes, 1886-1930; Accounts and Vouchers, 1890-1893; Accounts, 1901-1930.

Other Churches:

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

At the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh:

  • CH3/1341
    Portpatrick Free Church Kirk Session, later Trinity United Free
    Deacons' court minutes, 1844-1901.

The Portpatrick 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
Portpatrick 896 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

Portpatrick village Ordnance Survey Grid Reference GPS Post code Lat. 54°50'37"N
NX 000541 54.843488
DG9 8LD Lon. 5°6'53"W  

Surrounding parishes: Leswalt, Inch, Stoneykirk, and, over the Irish Sea, County Down, particularly Donaghadee.

You can see pictures of Portpatrick 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.

You can see the administrative areas in which Portpatrick has been placed at times in the past. Select one to see a link to a map of that particular area.


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 Portpatrick.

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. Portpatrick 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.
  • IRS87/47-50
    Valuation Office (Scotland): Field Book, 1910-1920: Portpatrick Parish
    Entries 1-100, 101-200, 201-300, 301-312.
  • 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 records:

At the Ewart Library, Dumfries:

  • EGD/103
    Rent book, Colfin
    Rent book, Colfin (in parish of Portpatrick), 1736-1794.
  • EGD/121
    Dunskey Estate, Portpatrick

At the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh:

Some estate papers can be found by searching the National Records of Scotland catalogue for "Portpatrick" 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)
  • GD72 Papers of the Hay family of Park
  • GD109 Papers of the family of Dalrymple-Hamilton of Bargany, Ayrshire
  • GD135 Papers of the Dalrymple Family, Earls of Stair


You can see maps centred on OS grid reference NX022560 (Lat/Lon: 54.859225, -5.083313), Portpatrick which are provided by:


Military History

The Roll of Honour website records the names on the Portpatrick war memorial. 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. Portpatrick records:

At the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh:

  • RH4/23/231 and RH4/23/234
    Ordnance Survey Original Object Name Books for Scotland: Wigtownshire
    Parishes of Leswalt and Portpatrick (books 33 and 34); Leswalt, Inch, Portpatrick and Stranraer (book 35); Inch (book 36); Inch, Portpatrick and Stoneykirk (book 37); Portpatrick and Stoneykirk (books 53 and 54).

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.



Year Population
1755 551
1801 1090
1851 1963
1901 1136
1951 1063

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 Portpatrick 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:

  • CO4/42
    Portpatrick Parish Records
    Parochial Board General Register of the Poor, 1845-1929; Parish Council Minute Book, 1922-1930; Parish Council Improvements Committee Minute Book, 1924-1930.


School Board records and / or school logbooks should be held at the Ewart Library, Dumfries. No records of Portpatrick schools are known to exist.

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

School Accommodation for scholars Average attendance
Portpatrick public school 277 130


"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.