Renfrewshire Family History Society

Renfrewshire Family History Society was founded in March 1999 and has Charitable status.It exists to promote the study of Family History, based on the County of  Renfrewshire encompassing Abbey Parish, Cathcart, EagleshamErskine Eastwood, Greenock, Houston & Killellan, Inchinnan, Inverkip, Kilbarchan, Kilmacolm, Lochwinnoch, Mearns, Neilston, Paisley, Port Glasgow and Renfrew.

New Research Facilities at Paisley Abbey

We are now in Paisley Abbey, Cathcart Aisle on Tuesdays & Thursdays from 10am – 11.45am. Both days are manned by RFHS volunteers who will help anyone in their search for family.

Some of our volunteers at our ‘home’ in the Abbey – a welcoming bunch!

in Abbey


We are currently transcribing Asylum Warrants for ‘Smithston Asylum, Greenock’. This happens at The Mitchell Library, Glasgow.


The Society holds regular Meetings throughout the year covering topics of interest to family historians. Meetings are held in the Paisley Museum, High Street, Paisley.

Our next meeting will be held on Thursday 21st April at 7.30pm.  Our guest speaker at the meeting is Lady Rosslyn Macphail who will tell the remarkable story about her great, great grandfather, Captain John Orr of the 42nd Regiment of Foot – now the Black Watch (Royal Highlanders) – who fought at the bloody fields of Waterloo over 200 years ago.  The Battle of Waterloo was fought on Sunday 18th June 1815, near Waterloo in present-day Belgium, which was at that time part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands.

John was born in Greenock in 1790 and, in 1809 whilst in his late teens, obtained an army commission with the Edinburgh Regiment of Militia.  Serving in the Peninsular War, he was involved in many engagements with the enemy for which he was decorated.  He survived one battle after another until the Battle of Waterloo, fighting with the 42nd Regiment of Foot where he received severe wounds to his left knee after being smashed by a musket ball.  Unlike thousands of others who fought in the battle, John lived to tell the story and led a successful life becoming the Superintendent of the Scottish Naval and Military Academy for 27 years, until the grand old age of 89, and was then one of the last surviving Scots who fought at Waterloo.

At the end of the evening everyone will have the opportunity to chat to Rosslyn while enjoying a biscuit (or two) along with a cuppa of Barbara’s delicious tea or coffee, together with a good old blether.

Lady Macphail

Lady Macphail – photograph courtesy of the Greenock Telegraph


Membership is available to anyone with an interest in family history in, or relating to Renfrewshire, on payment of the annual subscription. Membership entitlements will include Society newsletters and guidance with Family History Research.

Select Membership for details of how to join our Society


The Society publishes a Journal twice in the year, which is issued to its members without charge. Articles of interest are published as well as records of meetings. Contributions and ideas are always welcome.

Members may also include their interests which is published in our Journal free of

Select Journal 11 to view a sample of one of our Journals.