The district was formed by the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973, and takes its name from The Stewartry of Kirkcudbright, an alternative name for the historic county of Kirkcudbrightshire, which covers a larger area than the district.
In 1996 the district was abolished, with its area becoming a committee area of the Dumfries and Galloway unitary authority area, with identical boundaries to the district.
- "Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973 c.65" (PDF). 1973. p. 158. Retrieved 26 August 2018.