Description of the parish in 1846

"SORBIE, a parish, in the district of Machers, county of Wigtown, 6 miles south from Wigtown; containing, with the villages of Garliestown and Sorbie, 1700 inhabitants, of whom 809 are in the rural districts, and 235 in the village of Sorbie. The parish, bounded on the east by Wigtown bay, is about six miles in length, varying from three miles and a half to nearly six miles in breadth, and comprising 9000 acres, of which 7700 are arable with a moderate proportion of meadow and pasture, 400 woodland and plantations, and the remainder moor and waste. The bay of Garliestown is well adapted for the construction of a spacious harbour, which would greatly facilitate the trade between the western coast of England and this country. The rateable annual value of the parish is £8646. Galloway House, the seat of the Earl of Galloway, is a stately mansion erected about the middle of the 18th century, and beautifully situated on the coast, between the bays of Garliestown and Rigg. The ecclesiastical affairs are under the superintendence of the presbytery of Wigton and synod of Galloway: the minister's stipend is £244. 13. 7., with a manse, and a glebe valued at £15 per annum; patron, the Crown. The church, situated in Sorbie village, was rebuilt in 1750, and repaired in 1826; it is a neat substantial structure containing 500 sittings. The members of the Free Church have a place of worship; and there is a place of worship at Garliestown for Independents. The parochial school is well conducted, and attended by about sixty children; the master has a salary of £33. 3., with a house and garden, and the fees average £20 annually. There are several other schools, of which two, at Garliestown, are endowed by the Earl and Countess of Galloway." - edited from A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland, Samuel Lewis, 1846.


The parish includes Garlieston and Sorbie.


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 and 2 ancient burial grounds in Sorbie parish:

1. Sorbie Old Churchyard, which surrounds the original Sorbie Kirk, Main Street, Sorbie (grid reference NX 438468, GPS: 54.791463, -4.429668):


2. Sorbie New Cemetery, Reiffer Park Road, Sorbie (grid ref. NX 439464, GPS: 54.788488, -4.428654):

  • The graveyard is administered by Local Services, Culhorn Depot, Commerce Road, Stranraer, DG9 7DE. Tel: 03033 333000


3. Cruggleton, on the B7063 just north of Palmallet Farm (grid ref. NX 478428, GPS: 54.757086,-4.366776):

  • The renovated church is only open one day each year.


4. Kirkmadrine, north of Garlieston, in a field off the B7004 (grid ref. NX 475482, GPS: 54.805453,-4.374028):

  • An ancient church, now in ruins.
Presbyterian / Unitarian
Sorbie, Church of Scotland


Parish / district reference number for 1841 - 1901 censuses: 897

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
Sorbie 1042847 1042557 103922 104113 224063 220462
(Data provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints)

Further information on the main GENUKI Wigtownshire page.



Presbyterian / Unitarian
Sorbie, Church of Scotland

Church History

In addition to the parish church at Sorbie (rebuilt at Millisle in 1874-6), other churches include a Free Church, and a Congregational church at Garlieston. The Rootsweb Churches and Graveyards in Dumfries and Galloway site has photographs of the current parish church (at Millisle), together with the churchyard and ruins of the old church in Sorbie.

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 this information about Dissenters:

  • there are 3 clergy - one of the Church of England, the other two of the Established Church
  • There are 24 Episcopalians, 60 Ante-Burgher Seceders, 4 Catholics and 2 Cameronians.

The New Statistical Account (written in 1838) gives this information:

  • "There is one Independent chapel in the parish; the minister of this is paid by his hearers and receives about £60 per annum. There are no Episcopalian or Catholic chapels. Number of families attending the Established Church - 152 (167 persons); number attending the chapels of dissenters - 24; number attending the Catholic chapel at Newton Stewart - 55."

The1865 Ecclesiastical Directory lists the parish church, the Congregational Church in Garlieston, and the Free Church.

Details of church history:

  • Sorbie Parish Church
In the 12th and 13th cents Sorbie was made up of two divisions, Great Sourby and little Sourby, each of which had their own church. The two divisions were however united between the years of 1235 and 1253 and were joined together as Sorbie. The church of Sorbie was dedicated to St Fillan and prior to the reformation it belonged to the Abbey of Dryburgh. In 1633 Sorbie formed a union with the former parishes of Kirkmadryne and Crugilton. Sorbie, Kirkmadryne and Crugilton all had their own parish churches prior to the union, however after they were joined, the parish church at Sorbie served all three and the united parish continued under the name of Sorbie. The Parish church of Sorbie was rebuilt in 1750 and underwent extensive repairs in 1824, a new church was later erected in 1874-1876. In 1981 Sorbie was linked with Kirkinner. The kirk session sat within the Presbytery of Wigtown and later of Wigtown and Stranraer.
see The History of Sorbie Parish Church, Donna Brewster, 1994, ISBN 9781872350219

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: 897

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

Sorbie OPR Births / baptisms Proclamations / marriages Deaths / burials / mortcloths
897/1 1700-1819 1700-1819 1706-1716, and 2 entries 1813 & 1818
897/2 1819-1854 1820-1854 -
Register of Neglected Entries 1836, 1838, 1840    
(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 July 1721 - Jan. 1739, and defective 1739 - 1745 inclusive. Portion 1761 - 1771 in form of a small Memorandum Book. Blank (exc. one page of entries April 1773 - Jan. 1774) July 1771 - Sept. 1789, and June 1790 - June 1794, exc. twelve irregular entries 1787 - 1806 which occurs at that part.
M.  Blank June 1721 - June 1794, and Nov. 1814 - June 1816.
D.  Mortcloth Dues intermixed with other matters. Two entries of Death, dated 1813 and 1818.

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:

1068041 Items 2 - 3 Baptisms, 1700-1820; Marriages, 1700-1721, 1794-1820; Burials, 1706-1716, 1813-1818; Neglected Birth entries, 1836, 1838, 1840.
(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. Some Kirk Session material is to be found in the OPR records (897/1).

Heritors' Records (HR12) are at the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh. Sorbie records:

At the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh:

  • CH2/332
    Sorbie Kirk Session
    Minutes, 1700-1702 and 1829-1856; Poor's Accounts, 1797-1821; Accounts, 1845-1863; Loose cash records, 1765-1775.

Included in the Old Parochial Registers on microfilm and at the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh but not online:

  • 897/1
    Sorbie Kirk Session
    Accounts, 1703-1716.

At the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh:

  • HR12
    Sorbie parish heritors' records
    Minutes, 1861-1900, 1908-1929; Cash book, 1905-1919; Accounts, 1920-1929; Vouchers, 1874-1928; Papers relating to buildings, 1869-1914; Papers relating to transference to Church of Scotland, 1927-1929; Correspondence, 1870-1919; Valuation, 1799; Plans church, manse, 1912-? 1929.

Other Churches:

The location of records of other churches is not known.

The Sorbie 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
Sorbie 897 1855 1966
Whithorn 900 1967 1971
Whithorn 875 1972 2004
Dumfries & Galloway, Whithorn 875 2005  

Registration districts did not necessarily coincide exactly with parishes.


Description & Travel

Sorbie village Ordnance Survey Grid Reference GPS Post code Lat. 54°47'27"N
NX 437467 54.790769
DG8 8EG Lon. 4°25'57"W  

Surrounding parishes: Kirkinner, Glasserton, Whithorn.

You can see pictures of Sorbie 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.
  • Fullarton's Topographical, Statistical and Historical Gazetteer of Scotland, published 1842, vol. 1, A-H only, online at Google Books has an entry for Garlieston.
  • 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 Sorbie and Garlieston.

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. Sorbie 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.
  • IRS87/51-54
    Valuation Office (Scotland): Field Book, 1910-1920: Sorbie Parish
    Entries 1-100, 101-200, 201-300, 301-347.
  • 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:

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

  • GD10
    Papers of the Murray Family of Broughton, Wigtownshire, and Cally, Kirkcudbrightshire
  • GD138
    Papers of the Stewart family, Earls of Galloway (Galloway Charters)
  • GD150
    Papers of the Earls of Morton
  • GD154
    Papers of the Agnew Family of Lochnaw, Wigtownshire
  • GD455
    Papers of the Hathorn family of Castlewigg, Wigtownshire
  • GD1/1138/4
    Estate Sales Particulars, Various Estates 1896-1939
    Galloway House Estate, Garlieston, Wigtownshire, 1929


You can see maps centred on OS grid reference NX448457 (Lat/Lon: 54.781716, -4.414153), Sorbie which are provided by:


Military History

The Roll of Honour website records the names on the Garlieston and Sorbie war memorials. 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. Sorbie records:

At the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh:

  • RH4/23/235-237
    Ordnance Survey Original Object Name Books for Scotland: Wigtownshire
    Parishes of Kirkinner and Sorbie (book 69); Glasserton, Kirkinner, Mochrum and Sorbie (book 74); 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)

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 986
1801 1091
1851 1886
1901 1373
1951 1117

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 Sorbie 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:

  • CO4/43
    Sorbie Parish Records
    Parish Council Minute Book, 1918-1930; Parochial Board General Register of the Poor, 1878-1922;Parish Council General Register of the Poor, 1922-1930.


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

At the Ewart Library, Dumfries:

  • EW5/56
    Sorbie Public School
    Log books, 1905-1950. (Closed until 1/01/2026)
  • EW5/8/2
    Glasserton (Whithorn and Sorbie) School Board
    Register of mortgages (including receipts, 1918-1919), 1875-1894.
  • 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
Garlieston 188 136
Sorbie 160 130


"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.