I can find Dalry being listed as a parish but not whether Kilbirnie is one of its associated towns. I have been able to find similar resources for the UK.

We are talking about 1851. According to this persons Census / Marriage information she says she was born in Kilbirnie, Ayrshire, Scotland.

I have found a potential Birth entry for her which says the parish is Dalry, St. Palladus'. Looking here (Dalry St Palladius R C Church) I see that it was the church.

Is there a resource that indicates if Kilbirnie is in this parish of Dalry? It is certainly very close on the Google Map.

  • 3
    Have you tried using using the Boundaries viewer on the NLS website? That will show you the Scottish parish boundaries at various dates. Jul 10, 2022 at 8:47
  • @sempaiscuba I will try that. Jul 10, 2022 at 8:54
  • @sempaiscuba If I understand what the map is telling me, Kilbernie and Dalry are next to each other, but different parishes alltogether. Jul 10, 2022 at 13:07
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    That was my reading too. However, I'm not 100% certain that RC & Church of Scotland parish boundaries were the same in 1851. That would be something worth double-checking. You should also remember that a person's birthplace, and the place where they were baptised may not be the same. Jul 10, 2022 at 14:22
  • @sempaiscuba That is a valid point. I see that the church was completed in 1851 too. If my research is correct though, her parents were married just over 9 months before in Dalry at a Church of Scotland. And, their surname was Cunningham and not Cummingham. The statutory register in Scotland for births did not start until 1855 so I only have the parish records to go on. Jul 10, 2022 at 14:50

4 Answers 4


As a supplement to the previous answer, researchers who want to explore the historical geography of places can access:

When comparing information from any of these resources, keep in mind:

  • time - Pay attention to when the historical resource was created or published.
  • location - Note that NLS and GENUKI are using different underlying tech for their boundary maps,and boundary lines and pins may be in slightly different locations. Boundaries can also change over time.
  • terrain - Consider how people would have traveled from one place to another, not just the straight-line distance. Consult a topographic map.
  • poor laws - What push/pull factors in civil law might be in play for a baptism in one place or another?
  • denomination - What push/pull factors in church law might be in play for a baptism in one place or another?

Look at the big picture

Rather than looking at one record at a time and making a decision based on that record, look at the all the records for a family in a group. Make a timeline of records for the entire family and look at the places involved. Does it make sense? Did the family travel for work?

Look at the entire register for a parish. Is the surname a common name? Is the record you're looking at an outlier, or does it fall into the pattern of births and baptisms for a same-name family?

Where do relatives live? In his book Family History Nuts and Bolts – Problem Solving through Family Reconstruction Techniques, Andrew Todd says that sometimes cousins would "save up" baptisms and meet in one place to baptize children so families could meet and celebrate together. Were other children baptized on the same day? Are those families related?

Study the community. Does the pattern you're seeing for your own family apply to any other families in the two parishes?


I am not sure that you understand "parish" in this setting: in the post-1855 Scottish Registers of Births, of Marriages, and of Deaths these are civil parishes. Of course these were originally the ecclesiastical parishes, but when the Church set up new parishes these did not affect the civil parishes or registration districts. The "parishes" of the modern Roman Catholic church are quite different entities.

It is clear from the Scotland's People indices that the (civil) parish of Kilbirnie in Ayrshire was distinct from the (civil) parish of Dalry until at least 1979. In about 1980 these seem to have been amalgamated for registration purposes, and the current registration district is called Kilbirnie, Beith and Dalry.

  • Alright. But I guess it is as the comments say, that they were born in Kilbirnie but got baptised in Dalry. Jul 10, 2022 at 17:19

Roman Catholic (RC) records for Kilbirnie in the archives (Scotlands peoples) are collated under Dalry as that was the RC parish. The original record then tells you if the individual comes from dalry, kilbirnie, Beith or kilwinning. This lasts from quite some time in the 1800's. Even when a marriage took place in kilbirnie it was recorded in Dalry RC parish. at St Palladius. j


I had a response from the Scottish Catholic Archive:

The church in Kilbirnie was only founded in 1859 so they would have used Dalry, St Palladius which was founded in 1848.

So that clears up this specific instance.

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