This work identifies people in or from the neighboring counties of Renfrewshire, Ayrshire, Dumfries-shire, Kirkcudbrightshire, and Wigtownshire between 1800 and 1850. South West Scotland originally contained about 150 parishes, some of which subsequently merged. The main burghs were Renfrew, Greenock, Largs, Kilmarnock, Paisley, Ardrossan, Troon, Ayr, Stranraer, Wigtown, Kirkcudbright, Sanquhar, Dumfries, and Annan.
The information derives from a wide range of sources such as court records, contemporary newspapers and journals, monumental inscriptions, and documents found in archives. The entries bring together emigrants, their origins, and destination—especially in North America, the West Indies, and Australasia—with their kin who remained in Scotland.
The south west regional economy was based on farming, fishing, mining, iron and steel manufacture, engineering, textiles, and it possessed trading links especially with Ireland and North America. Emigration from South West Scotland to Ulster was substantial in the 17th century, but by the 19th century the destination shifted increasingly to North America and Australasia.
The best sources for historical context are the Old Statistical Reports of the 1790s and the New Statistical Reports compiled between 1832 and 1845. These Reports were produced by parish ministers and covered a wide range of subjects such as geography, education, history, the economy, agriculture, shipping, population, and religion. They are available on the website of the National Library of Scotland.