Mearns, Renfrewshire, Scotland Genealogy

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Mearns (#571)

This is a guide to the history and major genealogical records of Scotland as they pertain to the parish of Mearns. To learn more about how to use these records to search for your ancestors, go to the Scotland: Research Strategies.

History[edit | edit source]

MEARNS, a parish, in the Upper ward of the county of Renfrew, 7 miles (S. W. by S.) from Glasgow, containing the village of Newton and part of Busby. This place, in ancient records Meirnes, Morness, and Mearnis, appears to have derived its name from the appellation common to all districts inhabited chiefly by herdsmen; and from a very remote period the lands have been principally pasture, and distinguished for the abundance and excellence of the produce of the dairy. The church, a very ancient structure, was repaired and enlarged in 1813, and contains 705 sittings. There are two places of worship for members of the United Secession, one in the village of Newton and one at Busby.[1]

The New Statistical Account of Scotland (pub. 1834-45) offers uniquely rich and detailed parish reports for the whole of Scotland, covering a vast range of topics including history, agriculture, education, trades, religion and social customs. The reports, written by the parish ministers, are available online at  Click on ‘Browse scanned pages’ then search the parish reports for Mearns.  Also available at the Family History Library.

Census Records[edit | edit source]

A census is a count and description of the population, taken by the government, arranged by locality and by household. Read more about census records.

Here is a list of the Family History Library microfilm numbers for the census records of Mearns as well as the library numbers for any surname indexes available:


Years FHL Film Number Surname Index       
1841 1042726 CD-ROM no. 3822
1851 1042364 CD-ROM no. 3817
1861 103902
187 104086
1881 203578 6086652 ( 11 fiche)
1891 220193

The 1901 census of Scotland is indexed on  To use it, you must register and pay a small access fee. All available censuses, 1841-1901, are indexed on this website. It may be easier for you to pay to use the website rather than access indexes through t

Church Records[edit | edit source]

The Established Church of Scotland was Presbyterian. Read more about church records.

Here are the pre-1855 records that exist for this parish.

Established Church—Old Parochial Registers[edit | edit source]


Event Type Years Covered FHL Film Numbers
Births: 1756-1854 1041279
Marriages: 1825-1854 1041279
Deaths: No entries
Condition of Original Registers[edit | edit source]

Indexed: For an index to these records, see Scotland’s People website, a pay-for-view website. The Scottish Church Records Index is also still available at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.  Some records may be indexed in the International Genealogical Index. 
Births: There are only two entries November 1775–June 1778. Records are blank November 1791–June 1794 and entries out of the order of time occasionally occur. Mothers’ names not recorded until May 1763.
Marriages: No record of marriages appears to have been kept until 1825.
Source: Key to the Parochial Registers of Scotland, by V. Ben Bloxham, pub. 1970. British Book 941 K23b.

Established Church—Kirk Session Records[edit | edit source]

The Kirk session was the court of the parish. The session was made up of the minister and the land owners and business men of the parish, chosen to serve on the session. The Kirk session dealt with moral issues, minor criminal cases, matters of the poor and education, matters of discipline, and the general concerns of the parish. Kirk session records may also mention births, marriages, and deaths.

Here is a list of the surviving Kirk session records for this parish:

                                                                              FHL Film Number
Baptisms and Marriage Proclamations   1727–1731    0304665 item 11
There are also some later entries.
Minutes 1692–1701
Cash Book 1694–1709, 1719–1722, 1727–1731, 1833–1908
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/262.

Nonconformist Church Records[edit | edit source]

 A nonconformist church is any church that is not the Established church. Read more about nonconformity in Scotland in the article on the Scotland Church Records Union Lists.

The Newton of Mearns, Associate Session, later United Presbyterian Church
[edit | edit source]

A praying society in Mearns, which had existed from the 1640s, acceded to the Associate Presbytery in May 1738 and was recognized as a part of “the correspondence of Fenwick.” These societies were joined by others and they were organized into a congregation under the designation of the United Societies of Mearns, Eaglesham, and Neilston, with Mearns as its center. First church built in 1743 in the Newton. Most of the congregation, along with the minister, adhered to the Associate Burgher Synod at the Breach in 1747, but when the minister changed to the General Associate Anti-burgher Synod, a portion of his congregation withdrew and connected themselves with the Associate congregation of Burntshields. The minister and his Anti-burgher congregation purchased the church building from the trustees.
Source: Annals and Statistics of the United Presbyterian Church, by Rev. William MacKelvie, D.D., pub. 1873. Film #477618. More details may be given in the source including a list of ministers. Also: Old Days and Ways in Newton Mearns, by A. Boyd Scott, pub. 1939. FHL book 941.41/M1 K2sc.

                                                                                                   FHL Film Number
Baptisms                              1742–1764.                                       0304671 item 19
Marriages                              1746–1747                                        030467 item 19
Baptisms and Deaths             1868–1882                                       1562982 items 6–8 - in vault
Minutes                                 1746–1760, 1780–1781, 1838–1839    1562982 items 6–8 - in vault
Roll of members                     1862–1880                                       1562982 items 6–8 - in vault

Busby Branch, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints[edit | edit source]

Busby Branch was a unit of the Glasgow Conference of the British Mission. The records are found with those for Pollokshaws Branch.

                                                     FHL Film Number
Record of Members    1846–1849      0104155 item 8

Civil Registration Records[edit | edit source]

Government or civil registration of births, marriages, and deaths (also called statutory records) began on January 1, 1855 in Scotland. Each parish has a registrar's office and large cities have several. The records are created by the registrars and copies are sent to the General Register Office in Edinburgh. Annual indexes are then created for the records for the whole country.

See the article on Scotland Civil Registration for more information and to access the records.

Probate Records[edit | edit source]

Mearns was under the probate jurisdiction of the Commissary Court of Glasgow until 1823, and since then has been under the Sheriff's Court of Paisley.  Probate records for 1513- 1901 are indexed online at   You must register on the website but use of the index to probate records, called 'Wills & Testaments,' is free. You may then purchase a copy of the document or, if the document is before 1823, it will be on microfilm at the Family History Library. To find the microfilm numbers, search in the library catalog for the 'Place-names' of Renfrew and the subject of 'Probate records.' Then click on the link to the records of the Commissariat of Glasgow.
The library also has some post-1823 probate records for Renfrew. Look in the library catalog
 for the 'Place-names' of Renfrew and the subjects of 'Probate Records' and 'Probate Records - Indexes.'

Read more about Scotland Probate Records.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Lewis, Samuel A., A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland (1846), pp. 225-244. Adapted. Date accessed: 21 February 2014.


Return to the Renfrewshire parish list.