Dumbarton, Dunbartonshire, Scotland Genealogy

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Parish (#496)

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


History[edit | edit source]

DUMBARTON, a royal burgh, the county town, and a parish, in the county of Dumbarton, 15 miles (N. W.) from Glasgow, and 58 (W. by S.) from Edinburgh. This place derives its name, originally Dunbriton, from an ancient fortress which, though its founders are unknown, became the principal seat of the Strathclyde Britons. The town is situated on the west bank of the river Leven, near its influx into the Clyde. The present church, built about 1810, and situated in the town, is a spacious structure containing 1500 sittings. There are places of worship for members of the Free Church and United Associate Synod, and a Roman Catholic chapel.[1]

This parish name is also spelled Dunbarton.

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 http://edina.ac.uk/stat-acc-scot/.  Click on ‘Browse scanned pages’ then search the parish reports for Dumbarton.  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 Scotland Census Records.

Click here for a list of the Family History Library microfilm numbers for the census records of Dumbarton.

Below is information for any known surname indexes:


Years Surname Index               
1851 CD-ROM no. 3816
1881 6086556 ( 4 fiche)

The 1901 census of Scotland is indexed on www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk.  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 the library.


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]

Type of Event Years Covered Family History Library Film Number
Births: 1666-1819 1041985
1820-1855 1041986
Marriages: 1682-1854 1041986
Deaths: 1642-1749, 1776, 1783-1796 1041986
Neglected Entries 1816-1818 1041986
Condition of Original Registers—[edit | edit source]

Index: 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 [1]International Genealogical Index
Marriages: Records are blank September 1671–January 1677. No entries December 1699–August 1700. There are eight leaves of imperfect records after 1700. The lower portion of a leaf at September 1780 is cut off. There are no entries June 1698–January 1700 and the record is blank May 1707–March 1709. After 1700 the record appears to be chiefly one of proclamations, the fact of marriage being very seldom added.
Deaths: Records are blank July 1671–February 1677, and February 1683–July 1686. There are no entries January 1698–October 1699. The date of burial is also frequently recorded between 1670 and 1739. After October 1749, there are three entries of deaths for 1776.
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 Kirk session was made up of he 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:

Minutes 1693–1722
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/97.

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 List.

The New Statistical Account for 1837 states that the population of the parish was 3116. Of that number, 262 were members of the Relief Church, 113 were United Secession, 9 were Reformed Church, 26 other Seceders, 8 Independents, 30 Baptists, 35 Episcopalians, 284 Roman Catholics, 5 Unitarians, and 33 persons of no religious persuasion.

Dunbarton Bridgend Relief Church, later United Presbyterian[edit | edit source]

This congregation originated partly in the dissatisfaction felt by certain persons resident in the parish of Cardross with the conduct of their minister, and partly with members of the Relief Church resident in Bonhill, and partly with certain persons resident in Dunbarton, chiefly Highlanders who, from the difficulty of finding accommodation in the parish church, and dislike for the law of patronage, withdrew from the Established church. These parties joined in a petition to the Relief Presbytery of Glasgow to be taken under their inspection as a forming congregation, which was granted in July 1792. Church built in 1796. A new church was opened in 1860.
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.

The extent of records is unknown.

Dunbarton High Street United Secession Church, later United Presbyterian
[edit | edit source]

This congregation originated with Seceders resident in the Vale of Leven, who were desirous of having a place of worship more conveniently situated for them. They opened a preaching station in the village of Renton, supplied with sermon on alternate Sabbaths. In 1820, the station was removed to Dunbarton and the cause prospered. A congregation was regularly organized soon after. A church was built in 1826.
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.

Manager's Minutes 1822–1863
Subscription Book 1839–1840
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, records CH3/479.

Dunbarton High Free Church[edit | edit source]

The minister of Dunbarton came out in 1843, bringing with him a considerable congregation. Church and manse were built in 1843. In 1864 the old church was sold and a new one erected on another site.
Membership: 1848, 265; 1900, 794.
Source: Annals of the Free Church of Scotland, 1843-1900, ed. Rev. William Ewing, D.D., 2 vols. pub. 1914. Film #918572. More details may be given in the source including a list of ministers.

The extent of records is unknown.

Dunbarton Baptist Church
[edit | edit source]

No record of the early Baptists in the burgh exists, but it is known that a Baptist church was founded in Dunbarton in about 1823 and that it continued until about 1866. Baptism was administered in the River Leven and attracted large crowds. Owing to deaths and emigration, the church ceased to exist.
Source: History of the Baptists in Scotland, by Rev. George Yuille, pub. 1926. Family Hhistory LibraryBook 941 K2hi.


No records are known to exist.

Dunbarton Roman Catholic Church
[edit | edit source]

The congregation originated about 1830. The church was consecrated to St. Patrick in 1851.

Baptisms 1830–1888
Marriages 1830–1889
No burial records are available.
Note: Available online for a fee, at www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk, Edinburgh, record RH21/71.
Confirmations from 1841 are in the hands of the parish priest.


Vale of Leven Branch, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints[edit | edit source]

History—   Unavailable.

Records—                         Family History Library Film Number
Membership   1847–1879    0104156 item 5

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]

Dumbarton was under the probate jurisdiction of the Commissary Court of Dumbarton until 1823, and since then has been under the Sheriff's Court of Dumbarton. Probate records for 1513- 1901 are indexed online at www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk.  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 Dumbarton and the subject of 'Probate records.' Then click on the link to the records of the Commissariat of Dumbarton.
The library also has some post-1823 probate records for Dunbarton.  Look in the library catalog for the 'Place-names' of Dunbarton 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. 297-310. Adapted. Date accessed: 13 February 2014.


Return to the Dunbartonshire parish list.