The Church in Scotland
A Tour of Wigtownshire
Ghosts in my Past
Counties, Countries, and other...
Geography of Wigtownshire
Origins of the People
Castle of St. John
Ghost of Galdenoch
Death and the IGI
Old Parish Records [OPR]
The Rover of Loch Ryan
Farm Servant vs Ag Lab
What can a Professional Genealogist do?
What Makes a Good Researcher
The Museum, Newton Stewart
|by Jim McLay
In Galloway graveyards, we find just a few very old gravestones, such
as those found in Whithorn with Latin inscriptions, and a few later stones
recording local nobility, some of which are inside churches. But for the
majority of the population of Scotland the use of monumental inscriptions
is a relatively modern practice.
Genealogical researchers working before 1855
have two main sources in Scotland: the old parish records and monumental
inscriptions. The former were transcribed into the I.G.I., though they are
probably more accurately available at Register House in Edinburgh. But all over
Scotland, old gravestones have been copied by local workers before the weather
has eroded their inscriptions. In most cases, the work has stopped at 1855,
as after that year, the information required for family research can be found
from birth, marriage and death certificates. Only limited information exists
in parish records, and due to the schisms in the Scottish churches there have
been many other congregations than the original Church of Scotland which may
or may not have made or kept their own records. If recorders of monumental
inscriptions have not included stones after 1855, then finding a stone is
not easy, unless a record of burials, known as a "lair record", exists.
Some facts about the Cree Valley may be worthwhile, even if you are
interested in another area. You may be able to use this as background
to establish what the situation is in your area. In Penninghame parish, the first
graveyard with stones was round the parish church at the Clachan of Penninghame.
These stones have all been recorded by Mr James Birchman, the oldest inscription
being 1550. In 1777 the Clachan church was replaced by one in Newton Stewart,
where Newton Stewart Old graveyard was opened nearby - its stones have all been
recorded by a local team. When this was replaced by the present Newton Stewart
cemetery in 1895 a lair record was kept. Burials are known to have taken place
at Cruives of Cree, but there are no inscribed stones at St Ninian's Chapel
there. A small graveyard at St Ninian's Roman Catholic Church in Newton Stewart
is unrecorded. A much larger cemetery at Challoch Episcopal Church has a lair
record dating from the first interment in 1873. So it should be possible to
answer questions about stones and burial places in Penninghame.
Minnigaff parish has a graveyard round the parish church and all the stones are recorded.
The present graveyard at Kirroughtree dates from 1943 and has a lair record.
In the north of Minnigaff, the church at Bargrennan served the north of that parish
and the north of Penninghame, but the gravestones there are not recorded.
Kirkmabreck however, has a problem. Like all parishes in the Stewartry of kirkcudbright all pre-1855 stones
are recorded and published. The lair record dates from 1905 so that there is no written record of burials
between 1855 and 1905 apart from the inscriptions on the stones. This is fine for a resident in Creetown
able to walk the churchyard, but a problem for a researcher in another part of the world.
For the period pre-1855, Kirkcudbrightshire M.I.'s are printed in booklets sold by Dumfries & Galloway FHS.
Copies of East Wigtownshire M.I.'s for the same period are held as copies in Dumfries & Galloway Libraries. In West Wigtownshire pre-1855 M.I.'s are currently in the process of being recorded, but lair records from various dates around 1900 in handwritten form are held in Dumfries & Galloway Council offices. Researchers may need local advice on particular burials.