"DUMBARTONSHIRE (sic), Co., partly maritime but chiefly inland, in W. of Scotland, comprising a main body and a detached portion; area, 154,542 ac.; pop. 75,333, or 312 persons to each sq.m. The main body is in the shape of a crescent, having the convex side adjacent to the estuary of the Clyde, and measures 1.5 to 14 miles in breadth, and about 38 miles between its extreme points. The N. section (about two-thirds of the entire area), projecting between Loch Long and Loch Lomond, is wholly mountainous, and is celebrated for its picturesque and sublime scenery. Ben Vorlich and Ben Vane, in the extreme N., are 3092 and 3004 ft. high. The lower district along the Clyde is flat, and in general under excellent cultivation. The peninsular par. of Roseneath separates Loch Long and the Gare Loch, offshoots of the Firth of Clyde. The detached section (12 miles by 4 miles) lies 4.5 miles E. of the nearest point of the main body. The rivers, besides the Clyde, are the Leven, Allander, Kelvin, and Endrick. The mfrs. are very important; numerous bleachfields, dye, print, and other works line the banks of the Leven; and there are extensive shipbuilding yards along the Clyde: D. in former times formed part of the territory of Lennox. Vestiges of the Roman wall of Antoninus still exist. The co. comprises 11 pars. and a part, the parl. and royal burgh of Dumbarton (part of the Kilmarnock Burghs), and the police burghs of Cove and Kilcreggan, Helensburgh, and Kirkintilloch. It returns 1 member to Parl."

[Bartholemew's Gazetteer of the British Isles, 1887]


Archives & Libraries

East Dunbartonshire Archives

East Dunbartonshire Archives collects and preserves the historical records of East Dunbartonshire and its people, covering the towns of Kirkintilloch, Lenzie, Bishopbriggs, Bearsden, Milngavie, Westerton, Lennoxtown, Milton of Campsie, Torrance, Baldernock and Twechar.

West Dunbartonshire Archives 

These archives collect and preserve the written heritage of West Dunbartonshire. The collections date from the 14th century to the present day and are open to anyone interested in the history of the area.

The collections include: Official council records, including minute books which date back to the 16th century; School records; and records from local industries, businesses, societies, notable families and individuals.They also hold the Singer Archive which has been officially recognized as a collection of national significance by the Scottish Government.

Material from the archives can be viewed at Clydebank and Dumbarton Heritage Centres.



  • "The Statistical Account of Scotland, 1791-1799. Vol 9: Dunbartonshire, Stirlingshire and Clackmannanshire", (ed.) Sir John Sinclair, published 1978, Wakefield (EP Publishing)
  • "A short history of Dumbartonshire", Ian Murdoch MacPhail, published 1962 (Bennett & Thomson)
  • "Place names of Dumbartonshire", John Irving, published 1928, Dumbarton (Bennett & Thomson)


General advice on census records and indexes can be found on our Scotland Census page.


Church Records

For information on records for a particular parish, please see that parish's page (where available).


Civil Registration

Registration of Births, Marriages and Deaths began in Scotland on 1st January 1855. For details of these and other records held at the National Records of Scotland in Edinburgh, see the GRO tutorial. The GRO has a page giving information on the Family Records that they hold.

Many of these records, as well as those in the Old Parish Registers, are now searchable on-line, for a fee, at the ScotlandsPeople web site. The database covers the years 1553-1900 (Births, Christenings and Marriages) and 1855-1925 (Deaths).


Court Records

Records of testaments, inventories etc. are held at the National Records of Scotland.


Description & Travel

You can see pictures of Dunbartonshire which are provided by:



Lamburn's Business Directory for Stirlingshire, Dumbartonshire and Linlithgowshire (West Lothian), 1893-94, downloadable from the Internet Archive (PDF 9.8Mb).




Military Records

  • Rolls of Honour and War Memorials (monuments) are one good resource for family historians, but need to be addressed with some caution - it should not be assumed that they are either complete or accurate. Memorials (and Rolls of Honour) were created at the local parish level after asking the local inhabitants whose names should appear. Thus:

    - Some names may have been omitted, for a variety of reasons.
    - Some names may appear on more than one memorial.
    - Some names may be misspelled, or given names transposed.
    - Some people may be listed as killed in action, but were not.
    - Some people may be listed who were not in the service at all.
    - Some people may have been confused with others of a similar name.

    - A Roll of Honour may sometimes list the names of all who served, not just those who died.
    - Some of the original records may have been incorrect, for a variety of reasons.
    - Some (more recent) research may be incorrect.


The Glasgow & West of Scotland FHS covers this county.



For a social and economic record of the parishes of Dunbartonshire, together with considerable statistical material, see Sir John Sinclair's Statistical Account of Scotland, which was compiled in the 1790s. Follow-up works to this were the New Statistical Account (also known as the Second Statistical Account) which was prepared in the 1830s and 1840s; and more recently the Third Statistical Account which has been prepared since the Second World War.

Thanks to a joint venture between the Universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh the First and Second Statistical Accounts can now be accessed on-line at The Statistical Accounts of Scotland, 1791-1799 and 1845.

These records give a fascinating glimpse into our ancestors daily lives. The local Church of Scotland ministers were asked to describe their parishes, for example, what the land was like; what crops were grown; what the predominant language spoken in the parish was; the health of the parishioners etc. Please bear in mind that some ministers had better descriptive powers than others. Nevertheless, you will learn a great deal about their lives. There are no individual names mentioned unless they were major landowners. So this is not a document to search for names. More recently the Third Statistical Account has been prepared since the Second World War.