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Description of the county in 1868
"FIFE, a maritime county of the east side of Scotland, lying nearly in the middle of the lowland region, which is bounded by the Lammermoors on the south, and the Grampians on the north. It is a peninsula, enclosed by the frith of Tay on the north, the German ocean on the east, and the frith of Forth on the south; and it marches on the west with Perthshire, Kinross-shire, and Clackmannanshire ...The southern coast is, for the most part, indented by small rocky bays with corresponding projecting headlands; but along the banks of the Tay, the grounds slope gently toward the beach, and are generally cultivated to the river's edge. Along the north-eastern shore, towards St Andrews, it presents one large plain, terminating in a flat beach of sand."
from the Imperial Gazetteer of Scotland, edited by John Marius Wilson, 1868.
Fife has historically been referred to as the 'Kingdom of Fife'.
If you are uncertain of the location of a place in Fife, try searching the Where in Fife is .... ? pages which locate 2300 places in the county.
National collections, all with a lot of material concerning Fife:
- The National Records of Scotland in Edinburgh (formerly called the Scottish Record Office, the National Archives of Scotland and the General Register Office for Scotland) contains the major Scottish records for family historians. Access to its online resources is via the ScotlandsPeople website. ScotlandsPeople can also be accessed at local family history centres in Glasgow, Kilmarnock, Hawick, Alloa and Inverness.
- Online resources:
- civil registration records (births, marriages and deaths since 1855)
- census returns (1841 - 1911)
- pre-1855 Church of Scotland parish registers
- baptism, marriage and burial registers of some other presbyterian churches
- birth (pre-1908), marriage (pre-1934), death and other records of the Roman Catholic Church.
- wills and testaments (1513 - 1925) held by the National Records for Scotland.
- soldiers' wills, 26000 for the First World War and 5000 for the Second World War, but also including some from 1874 to 1964
- valuation rolls (1855, 1865, 1875, 1885, 1895, 1905, 1915, 1920, 1925 and 1930)
- the Public Register of all Arms and Bearings in Scotland (1672 - 1909). This register of Coats of Arms in Scotland is kept by the Court of the Lord Lyon.
- surviving records of the Military Service Appeals Tribunal, 1916-18
- Its multitude of other resources which are not online include later wills and testaments; records of the Church of Scotland - including kirk session records; records of dissenting and other churches; legal and court records; business records; land records; maps & plans; etc., etc. Catalogues and indexes are on this research page.
- The Research Guides A-Z are extremely useful pages.
- Online resources:
- The Scottish Archive Network (SCAN) provides access to the holdings of over 50 Scottish archives participating in the network. It has a searchable catalogue of these collections and has a host of resources and articles which will prove invaluable for anyone interested in the written history of Scotland.
- The Scottish Screen Archive has a lot of footage of Fife.
- The National Collection of Aerial Photography website has photographs of Dunfermline, Kirkcaldy and Glenrothes with more to be added. The site is free to browse, although in-depth viewing requires a subscription.
- Britain from Above has aerial photos from 1919 - 1953.
- The National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh, is "an information treasure trove for Scotland". Although it is a Legal Deposit Library, the more common resources for genealogy are more easily accessed elsewhere. However, its online digital library is outstanding. Residents of Scotland can access its digital collections from home. It has the best collection of maps of Scotland (see Maps below) and also has Ordnance Survey air photo mosaics 1944 -1950 for parts of Fife.
- The ScotlandsPlaces website lets users search across national databases by geographical location. It includes, amongst other material,
- catalogue entries for maps and plans held by the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh; some maps and plans can be viewed
- photos and details of historical buildings and archaeological sites recorded by the former Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, Edinburgh, now part of Historic Environment Scotland - see below
- 17th and 18th century tax rolls
- Ordnance Survey Object Name Books
- an opportunity to transcribe thousands of historic documents
- Historic Environment Scotland is 'the lead public body set up to investigate, care for and promote Scotland's historic environment'. A complex website covers everything imaginable in the historic environment. A start can be made by searching the Canmore database, the online catalogue to Scotland’s archaeology, buildings, industrial and maritime heritage.
- The National Archives (TNA) at Kew, London, is the principal repository for English and Welsh records, but it also has a lot of Scottish material. Its catalogue, 'Discovery', in addition to all the material held at Kew, also contains entries for many records held by other repositories.
- Scran - an online learning resource base with over 390,000 images and multimedia files from Scottish museums, galleries, archives and the media - has a lot of material concerning Fife. A subscription is required to view anything bigger than thumbnail pictures, although many local libraries allow free access.
- The Archives Hub enables you to search across a wealth of archives held at over 220 institutions across the UK.
- See also the Scottish archives page.
- Google Books, the Open Library, the Internet Archive texts and HathiTrust all have scanned copies of historical books about Fife. Many of them can be read online or downloaded.
- Electric Scotland has many resources concerning Scottish history, including scanned books and gazetteers.
- Cupar Library, Duncan Institute, Crossgate, Cupar. Tel. 01334 659367
This library has a large collection of historical material related to the whole of Fife, but specialising in North-East Fife. The research material of the Fife Family History Society is now housed here.
- Dunfermline Carnegie Library, The Local History Department, Dunfermline Carnegie Library, Abbot Street, Dunfermline. Tel: 01383 602365
This library has an extensive local history collection specialising in the area of the west of Fife, around Dunfermline. It also houses the more recent archives of the former burghs in the west of Fife.
- Fife Archive Centre has moved, see https://www.onfife.com/libraries-archives/archives, email: archive.enquiries[at]onfife[dot]com. They are open Monday to Friday, by appointment. They hold Fife records from 1457, including local authority records like the school log books for Fife, and the records of the burghs of Culross, Dysart, Kinghorn, Kirkcaldy and Leslie. The catalogue can be searched on the Fife Council website (select A in the A-Z list, then Archives enquiries).
- Kirkcaldy Galleries, Local & Family History Department, War Memorial Gardens, Kirkcaldy, Fife. KY1 1YG. Tel: 01592 583206
The Library has an extensive local studies department. The collection covers the Kirkcaldy and Central Fife area, but there is a lot of printed material concerning the rest of Fife.
- Methil Library - Wellesley Road, Methil, Leven, Fife. Tel. 01334 659374
- St Andrews Library, Church Square, St Andrews, Fife. KY16 9NN. Tel. 01334 659378
The Hay Fleming Reference Library (the library of David Hay Fleming, historian & antiquary, 1849-1931) previously housed here has been transferred to the St Andrews University Library.
- St Andrews University Library,Special Collections Department, Special Collections Napier Reading Room, Martyrs Kirk Research Library, North Street, St Andrews, Fife. KY16 9AH. Tel. 01334 467380
In addition to the extensive university library, the Special Collections Department is the archive for local authority and church material in the East Fife area.
- In the former Martyrs Church, open to the general public, but by appointment only, Mon. - Fri. 9.30 - 4.30
- It also has a growing collection of archive material of local families, estates and businesses.
- The Hay Fleming Collection (the library of David Hay Fleming, historian & antiquary, 1849-1931) contains, in addition to family papers, a large collection of material about Scotland in general, and St Andrews in particular.
- The library holds one of the largest and most important collections of historic photography in Scotland containing upwards of 300,000 images. The photography collection is currently being digitised and can be searched online.
- The Fife and Forfar Yeomanry Collection, Yeomanry House, Castlebank, Cupar, Fife KY15 4BL. Tel: (01334) 656155, is a small regimental collection, library and archive which can be viewed by appointment only.
- Perth & Kinross Council Archives and Library, A K Bell Library, Perth. Tel. (01738) 477012, email: archives[at]pkc.gov[dot]uk, has material relating to Culross and Tulliallan when they were part of Perthshire (before 1891) and Arngask from 1891 onwards.
- The Scottish Fisheries Museum on the harbour front in Anstruther tells the story of fishing in Scotland and its people from earliest times to the present.
An excellent guide to the location of pre-1900 archive material of genealogical and local historical importance is "The Archives of Fife" by Andrew Campbell, published 1997, which is available from the Fife Family History Society or the Tay Valley Family History Society
There are also several excellent museums in the county.
- Sibbald's History Ancient and Modern of the Sheriffdoms of Fife and Kinross, published 1803, is available at Google Books.
- Excellent descriptions of the whole county and of each parish are given in Leighton's History of the County of Fife, published 1840, available at Google Books in 3 volumes: - vol. 1 a general introduction, vol. 2 and vol. 3 - parish descriptions.
Wemyss ware pottery was made in Kirkcaldy from 1882 and continues to be made in Fife although now it is produced in Ceres [click on 'About us' then 'History'].
The cemeteries page has a list of all Council-maintained burial places, and a few private ones. Records for cemeteries currently in use are held by various Fife Council offices. There are also a few older records held by Fife Council Archives. Details of all cemeteries and their records are given on the parish pages.
There are 2 crematoria in Fife - Kirkcaldy (opened in 1959) and Dunfermline (opened in 1973). Details on the parish pages. The crematoria at Dundee (opened in 1936) and at Perth (opened in 1962) are used by residents in north Fife.
The Scottish Genealogy Society has published three volumes of pre-1855 monumental inscription listings for Fife.
- "Fifeshire Monumental Inscriptions (pre-1855) vol. 1 South east parishes"
John Fowler Mitchell & Sheila Mitchell
- "Fifeshire Monumental Inscriptions (pre-1855) vol. 2 The western parishes"
John Fowler Mitchell & Sheila Mitchell
- Fifeshire Monumental Inscriptions (pre-1855) vol. 3 The north east parishes
John Fowler Mitchell & Sheila Mitchell
The older edition, in 2 volumes, "Monumental inscriptions (pre-1855) in West Fife" and "Monumental inscriptions (pre-1855) in East Fife", is available on microfilm at LDS Family History Centres around the world.
Some stones are recorded in Graveyard Monuments in East, North and Central Fife, John di Folco, published in Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, 1969-70, vol. 102, pages 205-236, which deals largely with stones dated pre-1707. It can be downloaded from the Archaeology Data Service.
Fife Family History Society have produced the Pre-1855 Fife Deaths CD which contains the details of over 250,000 deaths in Fife extracted from burial registers, kirk session records, monumental inscriptions, newspapers, wills and testamants, etc.
The Fife Family History Society, the Tay Valley Family History Society and the main local libraries have copies of many monumental inscriptions and burial registers.
War graves can be seen at Scottish Wargraves and war memorials can be seen at the Scottish War Memorials Project.
CDs with photographs of the stones and transcriptions of most Fife cemeteries are available from Scottish Monumental Inscriptions or from The Parish Chest. Some of these photographs are included in Deceased Online
There has been a census every ten years since 1801, excluding 1941, but only those returns from 1841 onwards carry details of named residents. (Earlier listings for the parishes of Abdie and Carnbee have survived.) The latest that is currently available for inspection is for 1911. All census returns are held at the National Records of Scotland in Edinburgh and can be accessed online at the ScotlandsPeople website.
The 1841 and 1851 censuses were organised on a parish basis. The census reference number will be the same as the Old Parish Register (OPR) reference number. From 1861, censuses were organised on a registration district basis. There were some differences between the 2 different administrative areas. Some addresses will therefore appear in a different area, under a different reference number, from one census to another. Differences are noted on the relevant parish pages. There is a list of the census parish / district reference numbers here.
The original copies of many Fife 1841 census records were lost in transit to Edinburgh and are therefore unavailable. The parishes are: Abdie, Auchtermuchty, Balmerino, Ceres, Collessie, Creich, Cults, Cupar, Dairsie, Dunbog, Kinghorn, Kinglassie, Kirkcaldy and Leslie. Some other parishes have missing books:
Abernethy - the book for the part of the parish in Fife is missing. Only 1767 out of 1920 entries are available.
Arngask - the book for the part of the parish in Fife is missing. Only 492 out of 750 entries are available.
Burntisland - only the entries for the Burgh survive. The landward part of the parish, including Kirkton, is missing. 1572 out of 2210 entries survive.
Kennoway - only one book survives with approx. 126 entries out of a total population of 2044.
The 1841, 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901 and 1911 censuses are indexed and online at the ScotlandsPeople website. They can be searched and copies of the census pages can be purchased. For 1881 only, transcripts can also be purchased.
The 1841, 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891 and 1901 censuses are available on ancestry.co.uk (indexed transcripts, no images of the pages).
The 1841, 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891 and 1901 censuses are available on findmypast.co.uk (indexed transcripts, no images of the pages).
The returns for 1841 and 1851 are now available on the FreeCEN website (the parish pages will indicate if they are available).
The census returns for 1841, 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881 and 1891 have been microfilmed by the LDS church and may be consulted in their Family History Centres around the world. The LDS library catalogue numbers for the films are given here.
Microfilms of the 1841, 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891 and 1901 census are held by both the Fife Family History Society and the Tay Valley Family History Society; and are in some local libraries.
The 1881 census has been transcribed and indexed and is available at LDS Family History Centres, some libraries and some family history societies.
The 1851 census for Fife has been indexed by the Tay Valley Family History Society.
The 1861 returns for many parishes have been indexed and can be downloaded here.
An index to the 1891 census is available on microfiche at some local libraries and family history societies.
A Vision of Britain provides census statistics and graphs from the 1801 census onwards.
Histpop, the online historical population reports website, in its census section provides access to all the published population reports for Britain and Ireland from 1801 - 1937. The site has a huge amount of statistical information both at a county level and at a parish or district level. There is no personal information on the site.
A census of Religious Worship and Education was taken in 1851 at the same time as the census of population. A table of statistics about the churches in Fife at this time is available here.
The Fife Post has useful pages listing the churches in Fife in 1861, 1893 and 1903. (look under Genealogy)
Information on historic churches at the Scottish Churches website.
The Churches of Britain and Ireland site has photographs of many churches in Fife. More are needed - can you help?
Data provided by the Scottish Archive Network (SCAN)
Information about the church records for each parish will be found on the parish pages.
The Established Church (the Parish Church, Church of Scotland):
The original Old Parish Registers, sometimes called the Old Parochial Registers, abbreviated to OPRs, comprise the registers of baptisms / births, proclamations / marriages, and burials / deaths of the parish Church of Scotland for the years up to 1854. They are held at the National Records of Scotland in Edinburgh with online access at the ScotlandsPeople website. Copies of the original register entries may be purchased.
There is a list of the OPR parish reference numbers here.
Copies of the registers on microfilm may be consulted in LDS Family Search Centres around the world. The birth / baptism & proclamation / marriage records are indexed on the IGI (International Genealogical Index) on microfiche and online at the LDS website (see below). Copies of the films (not necessarily of all parishes) are also held by both the Fife Family History Society and the Tay Valley Family History Society; and in some local libraries. There is a list of the LDS library reference numbers for the OPR films here. Note that on September 1, 2017, FamilySearch will discontinue its microfilm distribution services. (The last day to order microfilm will be August 31, 2017.)
The Detailed List of the Old Parochial Registers of Scotland, published 1872, gives details of the coverage of the OPR volumes including the gaps within them. These pages list the information about the Fife parishes.
Deaths and burials are listed on Fife Family History Society's Pre-1855 Fife Deaths CD.
Some of the OPR entries can be searched on the FreeREG site.
The searchable LDS website - Family Search (and the IGI):Note on using Family Search and IGI Batch Numbers:
It is not always easy to locate your ancestors in Family Search using the search mechanisms provided at the above LDS site. Manually typing the batch numbers into the search screen can be tedious. Hugh Wallis has made an exhaustive search of the likely ranges of batch numbers and created a database of those numbers and the source records that they apply to. A very powerful feature included is a hotlink from each batch number to the actual search engine provided at the Family Search site, including the ability to enter the surname you are looking for. This makes it very easy to search all the batches for a particular geographic location using just the last name you are searching for - something that is not possible directly from the LDS site without doing a lot of typing.Hugh Wallis's site is at http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/%7Ehughwallis/IGIBatchNumbers.htm.
Another site, with updated and improved data, is Steve Archer's site.
The Kirk Session of a parish consists of the minister of the parish and the elders of the congregation. It looks after the general wellbeing of the congregation and, particularly in centuries past, parochial discipline. Kirk Session records for the Dunfermline and Kirkcaldy Presbyteries are held in the National Records of Scotland in Edinburgh. Those for the Cupar and St Andrews Presbyteries are held in the Manuscript Department of the Special Collections Department of St Andrews University Library, but digital copies may be seen at the National Records of Scotland in Edinburgh (and at some other archives in Scotland). Some Kirk Session material is often to be found amongst the Old Parish Registers. The Kirk Session records have been scanned with a view to making them more widely available soon.
Lists of Male Heads of Families, circa 1834, gathered as a result of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland's 1834 Veto Act have been transcribed for some parishes by Old Scottish Genealogy and Family History.
The Heritors were the landowners in each parish who were responsible (until 1925) for the maintenance of the church and manse and (before 1878) for the parochial school. They were also responsible, with the Kirk Session, for the Poor of the parish until 1845. Their records are also to be found in the National Records of Scotland in Edinburgh.
Records of the Synods and Presbyteries are to be found in either the National Records of Scotland in Edinburgh or the Manuscript Department of the Special Collections Department of St Andrews University Library.
For information about the ministers, see Occupations below.
Records of many other churches, particularly Free Churches and United Presbyterian Churches, are also to be found in either the National Records of Scotland in Edinburgh or the Manuscript Department of the Special Collections Department of St Andrews University Library. Some of these records include baptism and marriage registers and some are being made available on the ScotlandsPeople website. Many of these have been transcribed and published by the Fife Family History Society. Some of these records are also available on microfilm in LDS Family History Centres and there is a list of them and their library reference numbers here.
Records of the Catholic Church in Scotland are held by the Scottish Catholic Archives, in Edinburgh. Indexes to and images of the Roman Catholic registers of births and baptisms (1703-1908), banns and marriages (1794-1934), deaths and burials, and other events, are available at the National Records of Scotland and on the ScotlandsPeople website.
Photocopies of pre-1855 Roman Catholic registers of marriages at Dunfermline and Kirkcaldy are held by the National Records of Scotland in Edinburgh. Roman Catholic marriages which took place in Dunfermline, Kirkcaldy and Edinburgh (St Mary's, Broughton Street) prior to 1855 have been transcribed and published by the Fife Family History Society in Publication 22 - Fife Roman Catholic Marriage Registers 1793 - 1854.
Records of the Synods and Presbyteries are to be found in either the National Records of Scotland in Edinburgh or the Manuscript Department of the Special Collections Department of St Andrews University Library.
Records relating to Jews in Scotland from the eighteenth century are held by the Scottish Jewish Archives Centre, Glasgow.
Registration of Births, Marriages and Deaths began in Scotland on 1st January 1855. The original registers are held at the National Records of Scotland in Edinburgh. Indexes can be searched and copies of certificates can be purchased, viewed and downloaded at the ScotlandsPeople website. Records currently available online are Births (1855 -1916), Marriages (1855 -1941) and Deaths (1855 -1966).
The indexes to later Births (1917 - 2013), Marriages (1942 - 2013) and Deaths (1967 - 2013) are also online at the ScotlandsPeople website. Copies of these certificates can be purchased online for postal delivery. Current (2017) cost is £12 each.
Copies of some of the records on microfilm may be consulted in LDS Family Search Centres around the world. The records available on film are for 1855 - 1875, 1881 and 1891. The LDS library catalogue numbers for the films are given for births, marriages and deaths. The births and marriages for 1855 - 1875 are included in the Family Search website and the microfiche IGI (see Church Records above. Batch numbers - using Hugh Wallis's site - are those beginning C and M for 1855-1875).
Registration districts did not necessarily coincide exactly with parishes. In the 20th century especially, there were frequent changes in registration districts. Unfortunately there are no published maps which show registration district boundaries. The parish pages indicate which registration districts covered each parish.
Registration services in Fife are provided by Fife Council. Unlike their English counterparts, local registrars in Fife may not necessarily hold all the historic registers for their district, but they do have a link to Edinburgh for online access. Because of this, searches and applications for copies are better conducted at the National Records of Scotland in Edinburgh (online at the ScotlandsPeople website).
Histpop, the online historical population reports website, in its Registrar General section provides access to all the published registration reports from 1855 - 1920, giving statistical information on numbers of births, marriages and deaths, as well as some medical statistics. There is no personal information on the site.
The Scottish entries in the 1939 National Identity Register: for a fee of £15 you can access details for an individual (not a household) from this link to the National Records of Scotland.
Fife Family History Society have produced Fife Convicts Transportees 1752-1867 which lists convicts transported to Australia, America and the West Indies.
An Index to Consistorial Processes and Decreets at the Commissariot of Edinburgh, 1658 - 1800, is available at the Open Library. These are court actions concerning marriage, legitimacy and divorce.
The Sheriff Court Book of Fife, 1515-1522 was published by the Scottish History Society in 1928.
Content headings for Fife Sheriff Court at Cupar, Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court, Dunfermline Sheriff Court, and the St Andrews Commissary Court are on the Court Records page.
Web pages with much interesting Fife material, including some beautiful photographs, are on Tommy Manson's Fife Post.
There are many photographs in the St Andrews University photographic collection and the George Washington Wilson collection at Aberdeen University.
A Vision of Britain provides historical descriptions from various gazetteers.
Surrounding counties: Angus (Forfarshire), Perthshire, Kinross-shire, Clackmannanshire, Stirlingshire and West Lothian (Linlithgowshire).
Many Scottish directories can be read and downloaded at the National Library of Scotland's Scottish Directories pages. They are also available in different download formats at the Internet Archive texts (search for 'scottishdirectories').
There are short commercial listings for Cupar, Dunfermline and Kirkcaldy in Holden's Annual Directory 1811 available on CD from S&N Genealogy Supplies.
Pigot's National Commercial Directory for the whole of Scotland, 1837, is online at the Scottish Directories pages, at Google Books. The Fife & Forfarshire sections are available on CD from S&N Genealogy Supplies.
Slater's 1852 Directory of Scotland is available on microfiche from The Parish Chest.
Slater's 1861 Directory of Scotland is at the Scottish Directories pages.
Westwood's Parochial Directory for the Counties of Fife and Kinross for 1862 and 1866 are online at Google Books. On the Records pages of the Fife Family History Society website there is a transcription of the 1862 edition.
Worrall's Directory of the North-Eastern counties of Scotland, comprising the counties of Forfar, Fife, Kinross, Aberdeen, Banff, and Kincardine, 1877, is at the Scottish Directories pages.
Slater's 1878 Directory of Scotland is at the Scottish Directories pages.
Slater's 1886 Directory of Scotland is at the Scottish Directories pages.
Slater's 1903 Directory of Scotland (vol. 1) is at the Scottish Directories pages.
Many Fife residents will be found in the County Directory of Scotland, at the Scottish Directories pages. Editions for 1862, 1868, 1872, 1875, 1878, 1882-85, 1886-9, 1893-6 and 1901-4 are available online there. The 1912 edition is available on CD from the Scottish Genealogy Society. [The series started as Directory to Noblemen's and Gentlemen's Seats, Villages, etc. in Scotland, then became the Directory to Gentlemen's Seats ... . Editions for 1843, 1852 and 1857 are also at the Scottish Directories pages. These volumes are very useful in locating farms and country houses.]
You can download a list of directories held by Fife Council libraries.
Fife Family History Society have produced two publications: Fife Emigrants and their Ships - part 1 - Australia and New Zealand and Fife Emigrants and their Ships - part 2 - Australia and New Zealand (Publication 30). Both contain biographies of Fifers who have migrated overseas.
If you are looking for a place in Fife, try searching the Where in Fife is ... ? pages which locate 2300 places in Fife. Once you have located the parish, go to the relevant parish page where a link to Places in .... parish takes you to a selection of online historical and modern maps.
|You will find other places not in Fife listed in the GENUKI Gazetteer which covers the whole of England, Wales and Scotland and can be searched by place-name (or part of a place-name) or Ordnance Survey Grid References (six-figure, eg NO360130). If there are multiple place-names matching the name you enter, you will initially be presented with a drop-down list of the matching place-names with their distances and bearings from Cupar, Fife.|
Many older gazetteers are available at the National Library of Scotland, Digital gallery.
Samuel Lewis's Topographical Dictionary of Scotland, published 1846, is at British History Online, contains parish descriptions. It is also worth searching for places within the parishes.
Barbieri's Descriptive and Historical Gazetteer of the Counties of Fife, Kinross and Clackmannan, published 1857, is at Google Books.
Descriptive gazetteer entries for the county, each parish and some places within the parishes from Frances Groome's Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland (1882-4) and John Bartholomew's Gazetteer of the British Isles (1887) are onA Vision of Britain (click on "Historical places and writing").
Edinburgh University Geography Department have produced the first new Gazetteer of Scotland since 1885.
Both the Fife Family History Society and the Tay Valley Family History Society have mailing lists for their members. Ideas for messages to the Lists may include:
- The Fife surnames you are researching
- Queries regarding Fife individuals or families
- Questions or information regarding Fife localities
- Questions or information about Fife genealogical research
- Requests for or offers of help on Fife genealogical research
- Tips & tricks regarding Fife genealogical research that you'd like to share with everyone
The Fife pages of the World GenWeb project contain links to other pages of Fife material.
HappyHaggis has a lot of useful genealogical material on all parts of Scotland.
Two useful collections of biographies are available at the Open Library: Biographical Dictionary of Eminent Men of Fife, MF Conolly, 1866, and Lives of Eminent Men of Fife, J Bruce, 1846. Another very useful book is Conolly's Fifiana or Memorials of the East of Fife, 1869, which contains a supplement to his Eminent Men....
On the Records pages of the Fife Family History Society website there are extensive reviews of many published family histories.
The People of Medieval Scotland 1093-1314 is a database of all known people of Scotland between 1093 and 1314 mentioned in over 8600 contemporary documents.
The Public Register of all Arms and Bearings in Scotland (1672 - 1908), the register of coats of arms in Scotland, is kept by the Court of the Lord Lyon in Edinburgh. It is part of the National Records of Scotland, with online access via the ScotlandsPeople website.
On 15th May 1891, there were changes to the boundaries ofseveral parishes and to the boundaries between Fife, Perthshire and Kinross. Details are given on the individual parish pages. However, the most important changes were that the complete parishes of Culross and Tulliallan were transferred from Perthshire to Fife; and Arngask and Abernethy were transferred to Perthshire.
The full published text of the boundary changes was Boundaries of Counties and Parishes of Scotland - 1892 by Hay Shennan. The text is available on the ScotlandsPlaces website. Fife researchers will need to access the texts for Fife, Kinross and Perthshire.
A Vision of Britain provides historical descriptions, population & housing statistics, historic boundaries and maps.
Fife Family History Society have transcribed the Prospectus of the East of Fife Railway 1845, on the Records pages of their website.
The Survey of Scottish Witchcraft lists 382 witches who lived in Fife between 1563 and 1736.
Valuation Rolls from 1855-1975 are held at the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh (ref. VR101 - Fife; VR113 - Culross & Tulliallan before 1891); and for some years by the Special Collections Department of St Andrews University Library, and the Fife Council Archive Service. There is a list of the valuation rolls held by Fife Council libraries. The rolls for 1855, 1865, 1875, 1885, 1895, 1905, 1915, 1920, 1925 and 1930 are online at the ScotlandsPeople website.
Valuation Office field books and plans (for the Valuation Office survey of 1911-1915) are held at the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh.
Information about many Fife buildings can be found by searching the Dictionary of Scottish Architects 1840-1940.
Details of historic buildings and archaeological sites are held by the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, Edinburgh. They are catalogued at the ScotlandsPlaces website. In the results, click RCAHMS. Unfortunately, not all entries have digital images.
Fife is included in the 1873 Return of Owners of Land (Scotland), which is available on the ScotlandsPlaces (under 'Land Ownership Commission 1872-3'). website. It has also been published as Scottish Landowners and Heritages 1872/3 on CD from S&N Genealogy Supplies. This includes all those who owned more than 1 acre of land.
Services of Heirs:
- The 3 volumes of abridgements of the Inquisitionum Ad Capellam Domini Regis Retornatarum, 1544-1699 (in Latin) are at Google Books. Vol. 1: Special Services, Aberdeenshire - Kirkcudbrightshire ; Vol. 2: Special Services, Lanarkshire - Wigtownshire; General Services; Retours of Tutory ; Vol. 3: Indexes by name and place.
- A CD of the Decennial Indexes, 1700-1859 (in English) is available from the Scottish Genealogy Society.
2 books deal comprehensively with the architecture of Fife:
- Glen L Pride's The Fife: an illustrated architectural guide, published in 1990, ISBN 185158 256 8
- John Gifford's The Buildings of Scotland - Fife, published 1988, ISBN 014071 077 9
A good place to start searching for estate papers is the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh. Some estate papers can be found by searching the NRS catalogue for the name of the parish and reference starts "GD".
Other places to search include the Fife Council Archive Centre and St Andrews University Library Manuscripts Dept.
This Charles Close Society Sheetfinder will provide the sheet numbers for historic Ordnance Survey 1-inch and 6-inch maps for any location.
- On-line maps:
- Tommy Manson has provided a map of the parishes in Fife.
- The National Library of Scotland has a large collection of historic maps on-line including county maps, town plans, the best online copies of the 1850s first edition Ordnance Survey six-inch maps, later editions of the Ordnance Survey 6-inch and 25-inch maps up to the 1930s, and the early Ordnance Survey one-inch maps. It also has Ordnance Survey air photo mosaics 1944-1950 for parts of Fife. Using the geo-referenced maps allows historic maps to be viewed on top of a modern map or satellite view.
- ScotlandsPlaces has the Ordnance Survey First edition six-inch maps, and also shows parish boundaries plotted on a modern base map.
- British History online also has on-line images of the first edition of the Ordnance Survey 6-inches to 1 mile (1:10560) maps of Scotland, as well as those for England & Wales. The Fife maps are dated around 1854.
- Old -maps.co.uk, along with a very useful gazetteer, has:
- the first edition of the Ordnance Survey 6-inches to 1 mile (1:10560) maps
- images of later editions of the 6-inch (1:10560) maps up to the 1960s
- images of the larger 25-inches to 1 mile (1:2500) maps from the 1890s to the 1970s
- images of the metric 1:10000 maps from the 1970s.
- A Vision of Britain has maps showing parish & burgh boundaries; Land Utilisation mapping (1930s); and more.
- Another gateway site is OldMapsOnline.
- Paper maps:
- Caledonian Maps publish a map of Fife (from Black's 1847 County Atlas) which shows the parishes; and reprints of the 1890s one-inch Ordnance Survey maps (Victorian Ordnance Survey Map Series).
- The National Library of Scotland sells paper and digital copies of their maps (select "Enquiries & copies").
- Old -maps.co.uk sell paper copies of all their on-line maps.
- Ordnance Survey one-inch, 7th series (1960s) sheets 55, 56, and a little on 61 and 62.
- Alan Godfrey Maps produce reprints of large scale Ordnance Survey town plans.
- The best collection of large scale local and estate maps and plans is held by the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh. The RCAHMS also has some plans. They are catalogued on the ScotlandsPlaces website. N.B. Only a few maps and plans are available as digital images.
- The Fife Council Archive Service also have some plans.
- On-line maps:
- National Library of Scotland map collection - main page
- Streetmap and the Ordnance Survey have on-line maps of present-day Scotland, England & Wales, which can be searched by placename or postcode.
- both Google maps and Bing Maps provide detailed maps and aerial photographs
- Paper maps:
- Fife is shown on Ordnance Survey Landranger maps (at a scale of 1:50000), sheets 58 (Perth & Alloa), 59 (St Andrews), 65 (Falkirk & Linlithgow) and a little on sheet 66 (Edinburgh).
- Ordnance Survey Explorer maps (at a larger scale of 1:25000) sheets 367 (Dunfermline, Kirkcaldy & Glenrothes south), 370 (Glenrothes north, Falkland & Lomond Hills) and 371 (St Andrews and East Fife) cover the county.
Hospital records (mostly of an administrative nature) are held by the Fife Council Archive Centre. The following hospitals are included: Adamson Hospital, Cupar 1865-1979; Dunfermline and West Fife Hospital (originally Dunfermline Cottage Hospital) 1891-1948; East Fife Hospitals Board of Management 1948-1974; Kirkcaldy Cottage Hospital 1891-1948; Memorial Cottage Hospital, St Andrews 1875-1949; Dunfermline Combined Poorhouse and Hospital 1859-1867; Randolph Wemyss Memorial Hospital 1912-1948; Stratheden Hospital, Cupar 1867-1970s (including records of Fife and Kinross District Lunacy Board and its successors). Only Stratheden Hospital has extensive patient records. Patient records are closed for 100 years.
The England's Immigrants 1330-1550 database contains some 3389 Scottish emigrants who appeared in England in that period, as mentioned within various medieval documents.
The published census reports, available online at histpop, give information on the birthplaces of those who were resident in Scotland. This allows a picture of the internal migration (population movement within Britain) to be built up. The population reports give information about
- how many people lived in Fife but were born elsewhere
- where, within Scotland, people born in Fife had moved to.
The figures for 1841 (not as comprehensive as for other years), and 1911 are analysed here.
On the Records pages of the Fife Family History Society website there is a list of Fife men who enlisted 1794-1801 in the Loyal Tay Fencibles.
Military forces connected with the county included The Fife Fencibles, The Fife & Forfar Yeomanry, The Fife Yeomanry Cavalry, The Fife Artillery, The Fife Militia, The 1st Fifeshire Rifle Volunteers and the Black Watch.
The Fife Military Project website has a wealth of information on the historical military forces in Fife, including Fife Fencibles, Militia, Yeomanry, etc.
The Scottish National War Memorial at Edinburgh Castle commemorates nearly 150,000 Scottish casualties in the First World War, 1914 - 1918, over 50,000 in the Second World War, 1939 - 1945, and the campaigns since 1945, including the Malayan Emergency, the Korean War, Northern Ireland, the Falklands War and the Gulf War. You can carry out an on-line search of the Scottish Roll of Honour.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission's "Debt of Honour Register" is the Commission's database listing the 1.7 million men and women of the Commonwealth forces who died during the two world wars and the 23,000 cemeteries, memorials and other locations worldwide where they are commemorated. The register can also be searched for details of the 67,000 Commonwealth civilians who died as a result of enemy action in the Second World War. This site records some Scots not listed on the Scottish National War Memorial, and, for those listed in both databases, contains some additional information.
An increasing number of military records held by The National Archives (TNA), Kew, can be searched online including those for World War 1 Campaign Medals, World War 2 Seamen's Medals, Women's Army Auxiliary Corps, and Registers of [Royal Navy] Seamen's Services (1873-1923) and soldiers discharged to pension (WO97 and WO121).
The Scots at War site, reached through the Internet Archive, gives basic information about the Fife and Forfar Yeomanry. See also the Yeomanry's museum above. The publication The Fife and Forfar Yeomanry and 14th (F. & F. Yeo.) Battn. R.H. 1914-1919 by David D. Ogilvie, is available at Project Gutenberg.
Many Fife men served with The Black Watch.
Fife Family History Society's Publications Series, No. 25, Some Fife Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen has articles about Fife holders of the Victoria Cross, Fifers in South Africa 1900-01, some Fife Soldiers from World War 1, and some Fife Veterans. Their Publication 47, Some Other Chelsea Pensioners and Others (Chiefly of the Peninsular Period) contains details of many Fife soldiers.
War graves can be seen at the Scottish Wargraves Project and war memorials can be seen at the Scottish War Memorials Project.
There is a listing of grave locations in Fife of holders of the Victoria Cross.
The Kirkcaldy [Boer] War Album with photographs of over 200 Fife men 1900-1902 is online at Ancestry.co.uk.
The parishes of Abernethy, Arngask, Culross and Tulliallan parishes will be included in the Perthshire Milita collection, 1680-1891, located at the Perth and Kinross Council Archive, Perth. Several databases are searchable online.
An excellent site with a lot of detailed information about the British Army in World War 1 is the Long, Long Trail.
Surviving records of the Military Service Appeals Tribunal, 1916-18, are online at the ScotlandsPeople website.
The Ordnance Survey Object Name Books were created as part of the process of creating the O.S. First Edition maps of Fife and include notes and observations, many from local people, on all features and buildings named on the original six-inch maps published around 1856. The originals are at the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh (reference RH4/23/83 - 93). Copies are held by the Fife Council Archive Service and Cupar, Dunfermline & Kirkcaldy libraries. Library staff have indexed all parishes except Culross and Tulliallan but the indexes are now only available in the libraries. However, the books have all been transcribed and can be seen on the ScotlandsPlaces website.
Glasgow University have a test version of a database of Fife Place-name Data. The site is searchable by parish or by place and gives map references.
George F Black's Surnames of Scotland is available at the Hathi Trust.
Fife's local libraries have copies of historic newspapers, on microfilm or in hard copy, together with some indexes to them. All holdings were listed on the Fife Council website (copied here), but visits several years ago discovered the following main holdings. It is best to check with the appropriate library regarding the current position.
- Cupar Library holds copies of The Courier, Dundee, 1926 - present day; East Fife Record, 1870 - 1917; Fife News, 1967 - 1974; Fife Herald, 1967 - 1974; Fife Herald News, 1974 - present day; Fifeshire Journal, 1833 - 1893.
There is a series of indexes to the older editions of these newspapers, including a subject index and a name index. For the East Fife Record there are also indexes of Births (1856-1900), Marriages (1856-1900), Deaths (1856-1900) and Obituaries.
The Cupar newspaper index is online at Ancestry.co.uk.
- Dunfermline Library has the Dunfermline Press, 1859-date; Dunfermline Journal, 1851-1951; Rosyth & Inverkeithing Journal, 1940 -1951; West Fife Echo, 1900-1932; Fifeshire Journal (& Clackmannan & Kinross Register), 1833-1851; Monthly Advertiser for the Western District of Fife, 1835-1840; West Fife Annual, 1937-1951.
There is also a local newspaper card index, mainly for Dunfermline, covering major articles but including many obituaries from the Dunfermline Press & Dunfermline Journal.
The Dunfermline newspaper index is online at Ancestry.co.uk.
Images of the Dunfermline Journal, 1851-1931 (gap 1863-1871), are online at Ancestry.co.uk.
- Kirkcaldy Library has the Fife Free Press, 1871 - date; Fifeshire Advertiser, 1845 - 1965 (indexed 1845 - 1865); Leven Advertiser, Buckhaven & Methil News, 1897 - 1939; Fife News Almanac, various years 1895 - 1932.
- Methil Library holds the East Fife Mail, 1966-1967; Fife Mail, 1965-1966; Leven Mail, 1940-1965; Leven Advertiser & Buckhaven and Methil News, 1897-1899 & 1903-1905; Leven Advertiser & Wemyss Gazette, 1900-1902 & 1906- 1939; Fife Advertiser, 1844-1845.
- St Andrews Library holds the St Andrews Citizen, 1872 - 1995 (microfilm) and the St Andrews Times, 1937 - 1940.
An index of the portraits in the Fife News Almanacs, 1886-1942, has been published by the Fife Family History Society in their Publications 41, 42 & 43. It also includes portraits published in the Coast Chronicle Illustrated Almanac, 1908-1909, covering Leven.
The British Newspaper Archive, also available available on findmypast.co.uk, has the following runs, although there may be gaps in them:
- the Dunfermline Press, Apr. 1859 - Mar. 1864
- the Dunfermline Saturday Press, Apr. 1859 - Dec. 1867
- the Fife Herald, (Cupar), Jan. 1824 - Dec. 1889
- the St Andrews Citizen, Jan. 1892 - Dec. 1900
- the Fife Free Press & Kirkcaldy Guardian, Jan. 1871 - Dec. 1945
- the Fife Advertiser, (Kirkcaldy), 1870 - 1889; 1905 - 1919
- the Dundee, Perth & Cupar Advertiser, Oct. 1839 - Dec. 1864
- the Dundee Courier, Jan. 1844 - Dec. 1954
- the Dundee Advertiser, May 1861 - Dec. 1898
- the Evening Telegraph, (Dundee), Mar. 1877 - Dec. 1950
- the Dundee Evening Post, 1900 - 1905
- the Dundee, Perth, Forfar & Fife Peoples Journal, 1858 - 1930
- the Northern Warder & General Advertiser for the Counties of Fife, Perth & Forfar, 1841 - 1846, 1868 - 1869
- the Perthshire Advertiser, (Perth), 1833 - 1918
- the Perthshire Courier, 1809 - 1844
Historical editions of The Scotsman, published in Edinburgh, can be searched online for the period 1817 - 1950.
You can search the catalogue of the British Library to find details of the newspapers which have been published and which are held by the British Library.
The National Library of Scotland is the main repository for Scottish newspapers, although Fife's local libraries may provide easier access to copies. The National Library does, however, have an online guide to Scottish newspaper indexes.
There is a listing of current Scottish newspapers. Those of particular local interest in Fife include: The Courier (Dundee), The Fife Free Press, Fife Online, and The Scotsman (Edinburgh).
The Edinburgh Gazette, the official newspaper of record, contains legal notices, insolvencies, estates fallen heir to the Crown, etc.
Fife Deaths Abroad 1855-1900 - a compilation of overseas deaths recorded in Fife newspapers - has been produced by Andrew Campbell of Fife Family History Society. The Society have re-published it in their Publications Series.
Andrew Campbell has also produced Fife Deaths from Newspapers 1822-1854 - a compilation of deaths recorded in local newspapers. Copies of this index are held by the Fife libraries and the Family History Societies.
- Biographical information and job lists are available online at the Dictionary of Scottish Architects 1840-1940.
- There is a series of articles about many Fife family businesses in Fife Family History Society's Journal, New Series numbers 9-12 Spring 2007 - Spring 2008.
- The Fasti Ecclesiae Scoticanae, which lists details of all Church of Scotland ministers, is online at the Open Library. Volume 5 covers all Fife parishes, except Tulliallan and Abernethy which are in volume 4. Volume 8 takes the succession of ministers up to 1929.
Volumes 4 and 5 (covering years up to 1866) are online at Ancestry.co.uk.
- There are many photographs of Fife clergymen, scanned from editions of the Fife News Almanac, on the Photographs pages of the Fife Family History Society website.
- Fife Family History Society have published an Index to the Fife Constabulary Photo Criminal Register, 1910-1920 in their Publications Series, No. 34. The originals are at the Fife Council Archive Centre.
- Also held by the Archive Centre, is an index to the St Andrews District Criminal Register, 1888 - 1899. Names of criminals are included in the Archive Catalogue on the Fife Council website (select A in the A-Z list, then Archives enquiries). Fife Family History Society have published the index in their Publications Series, Nos. 35 & 36.
- A database of criminal trials of the 19th century has been compiled by the National Records of Scotland in Edinburgh. Names are included in their online catalogue, reference AD14 or JC26.
- There is an article about many Fife farmers in Fife Family History Society's Journal, New Series 12.
- Directory of Seafarers - the East Neuk of Fife 1580-1800 and The Shipping of Anstruther and the East Neuk of Fife by David Dobson can be obtained from the Tay Valley Family History Society.
- Sailors on board ships registered at Kirkcaldy in 1851 are listed on CD: Scotland South -East Seamen Crew Lists, 1851 available from Family History Indexes.
- Records of merchant seamen 1913 - 1972, held by the National Archives, Kew, can be searched in their catalogue (BT372).
- Fife has a rich coal mining heritage. Several useful sites provide a lot of detailed information: The Scottish Mining Website, Fife pits, and the Fife Mining Heritage Society. Two useful books are Fife - The Mining Kingdom and Twenty Years Down the Mines (Stenlake Publishing). Fife Family History Society's Journal, Autumn 2006, includes a list of Miners listed in the Rothes Papers, held by the Fife Council Archive Centre.
- Records of the Fife County Nursing Association, 1922-1947, are held at the Fife Council Archive Centre.
- A very useful list of Fife Photographers to 1900 has been produced by Fife Family History Society on the Records pages of their website.
- Records of Fife Police Officers are held at the Fife Council Archive Centre.
- The Police Roll of Honour Trust researches and maintains the National Police Officers Roll of Honour and Remembrance which is dedicated to police officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty.
- Records of the many railway companies which operated in Fife are held by the National Records of Scotland in Edinburgh. The companies included: the Edinburgh & Northern Railway, the St Andrews Railway, the Stirling & Dunfermline Railway, the Leven Railway, the East of Fife Railway, the West of Fife Mineral Railway, the Fife & Kinross Railway, the Edinburgh, Perth & Dundee Railway, the Newport Railway, the North British Railway, the Wemyss & Buckhaven Railway, the Anstruther & St Andrews Railway, the East of Fife Central Railway, the Newburgh & North Fife Railway and several smaller and private railways. For a historical background, read The Railways of Fife by William Scott Bruce, 1980, ISBN 0906664039.
- A listing of Owners and vessels associated with the small ports of the River Tay 1820-1854 has been published by the Tay Valley Family History Society.
Shopkeepers & Traders:
- Andrew Campbell has compiled a list of Fife Shopkeepers and Traders 1820-1870 from newspapers and Directories. It is available in most Fife reference libraries, in the libraries of the family history societies, and at the Manuscript Department of the Special Collections Department of St Andrews University Library. It is also available as Fife Traders and Shopkeepers on CD from Fife Family History Society.
- See also Businessmen above.
Many references to places and persons in Fife are to be found in the searchable Records of the Parliaments of Scotland to 1707.
Local government records for the whole of the county of Fife from 1709 are held at the Fife Council Archive Centre. They cover the functions which Fife Council still looks after today including roads maintenance, bridges, schools, police, etc. Also held there are records of most of the Parochial Boards and Parish Councils.
Records of the former burghs (towns) in Fife are held at several locations. Details will be found on the parish pages.
The Fife Council website has further information concerning present-day local government - including Registration, Archives, Cemeteries, etc.
Until 1845, the relief of paupers was carried out by the Kirk Session and the Heritors (see Church Records).
The relief of paupers after 1845 was carried out by the Parochial Boards and later by the Parish Councils. Their records are at the Fife Council Archive Centre.
Peter Higginbotham has a detailed website about workhouses and poorhouses. There were 3 poorhouses in Fife: Dunfermline combination, Kirkcaldy combination and Dysart combination (which, despite the name, was in Thornton, in Markinch parish). Ceres parish had an almshouse and St Andrews also had an almshouse (the Eastern Poorhouse).
A link to some experimental Poorhouses pages in FIF.
Records of the Dysart Combination Poorhouse are at the Fife Council Archive Centre. Fife Family History Society have published an index of people sent to the poorhouse by the Parish Councils of Dysart and Markinch, (includes Markinch Paupers 1868 - 1888, Dysart Paupers 1878 - 1883.) in their Publications Series, 34.
There is a page with census statistics for all Fife parishes from 1755 to 1961 here.
A Vision of Britain provides population statistics from the 1801 census onwards.
Histpop, the online historical population reports website, provides statistics in the published population (census) reports (1801 - 1937).
Good online background information about this subject can be found at the Scottish Archive Network (SCAN) Knowledge Base, in the National Records of Scotland online guides, and on the Scotland's People website.
Prior to 1824, most Fife testaments will be found in either the St Andrews Commissariot (CC20) or the Edinburgh Commissariot (CC8) records. There are also some in the Stirling Commissariot (CC21) and the Dunkeld Commissariot (CC7). These records are held at the National Records of Scotland. Printed indexes to these records up to 1800 were published by the Scottish Record Society and can be read online at the Open Library. Indexes to the all the testaments are now available on the Scotland's People website. This site has a searchable index to Scottish Wills and Testaments from 1513 - 1925, comprising over 878,000 names of 'defuncts'. The indexes may be searched free, and copies of the documents may be viewed and purchased. The Scotland's People website has indexes to the St Andrews Commissary Court, 1549-1823 (ref. CC20/4/1-31, some from CC20/6/1-97 and CC20/7/1-16); Dunkeld Commissary Court, 1687-1823 (ref. CC7/6/1-8); Stirling Commissary Court, 1607-1823 (ref. CC21/5/1-13 and some from CC21/6/1-105); and the Edinburgh Commissary Court, 1514-1829 (ref. CC8/8/1-152 and CC8/11/1-6).
From 1824 - 1960, commissary court business was conducted by the Sheriff Court of Fife at Cupar (SC20), and also by the Edinburgh Sheriff Court (SC70). These records are also held at the National Records of Scotland. On the Scotland's People website are entries from the Registers of inventories and settlements (wills) up to 1875, and, from 1876 - 1925, entries in the printed Calendar of Confirmations. Ancestry has the Calendar of Confirmations from 1876 - 1936. There are no online indexes for wills, testaments or confirmations after 1936. The Scotland's People website has indexes to Cupar Sheriff Court Inventories, 1824-1925 (ref. SC20/50/1-114); Edinburgh Sheriff Court Inventories, 1808-1925 (ref. SC70/1/1-741) and Edinburgh Sheriff Court Wills, 1855-1925 (ref. SC70/4/1-595).
For deaths which occurred after 13 October 1960, commissary business has been conducted at Cupar (SC20), Dunfermline (SC21) and Kirkcaldy (SC23) Sheriff Courts.
The Scotland's People website also has records of Non-Scottish Courts, 1858-1900 (ref. SC70/6/1-83) which includes testaments relating to Scots who died in England and other foreign countries.
The wills of some Scottish soldiers and airmen, 1857-1964, are held by the National Records of Scotland.
Scots who owned goods or investments in England were supposed to have their wills proved in England as well as Scotland. Wills proved before 1858 at the Prerogative Court of Canterbury are held at The National Archives, Kew. There are also has a few Scots listed in the Death Duty registers.
From 1858, the annual National Probate Calendars need to be consulted - wills and other probate materials for England and Wales for the period from 1858-1996, 1996 to present, and soldiers wills can be searched at the probate search service. There are also copies of the calendars for 1858-1966 at Ancestry.co.uk, and for 1858-1959 at findmypast.co.uk.
Many wills can be found in the collections of Deeds deposited in various courts. Some of these have been indexed and some have indexes online.
The Records pages of the Fife Family History Society's website have indexes to the following:
- St Andrews Commissariot Deeds 1700-1809 (originals at the National Records of Scotland)
- Sheriff Court of Fife (Cupar) Deeds 1715-1809 (originals at the National Records of Scotland)
- Auchtermuchty Burgh Register of Deeds 1757-1874 (originals at the Special Collections Dept. of St Andrews University Library)
- Burntisland Burgh Register of Deeds 1731-1874 (originals at the National Records of Scotland)
- Crail Burgh Register of Deeds 1682-1841 (originals at the Special Collections Dept. of St Andrews University Library)
- Culross Burgh Register of Deeds 1713-1801 (originals at the National Records of Scotland)
- Cupar Burgh Register of Deeds 1716-1862 (originals at the Special Collections Dept. of St Andrews University Library)
- Dunfermline Burgh Register of Deeds 1700-1884 (originals at the National Records of Scotland)
- Dysart Burgh Register of Deeds 1690-1829 (originals at the National Records of Scotland)
- Falkland Burgh Register of Deeds 1783-1798 (originals at the Special Collections Dept. of St Andrews University Library)
- Inverkeithing Burgh Register of Deeds 1716-1884 (originals at the National Records of Scotland)
- Kinghorn Burgh Register of Deeds 1682-1854 (originals at the Fife Council Archive Centre)
- Kirkcaldy Burgh Register of Deeds 1673-1871 (originals at the National Records of Scotland)
- Pittenweem Burgh Register of Deeds 1721-1881 (originals at the Special Collections Dept. of St Andrews University Library)
- St Andrews Burgh Register of Deeds 1692-1891 (originals at the Special Collections Dept. of St Andrews University Library)
Fife Family History Society have published printed indexes of:
- Cupar Sheriff Court Register of Inventories, 1824-1892 (published as Wills 1824-1892 Registered with the Sheriff Court of Fife at Cupar) (originals at the National Records of Scotland)
- Cupar Sheriff Court Register of Deeds, 1809-1900 (originals at the National Records of Scotland)
For residents in the parishes of Abernethy, Arngask, Culross and Tulliallan, and also for those in the north-west of Fife in general, a search in the Perth Register of Deeds may be useful. They are held by Perth & Kinross Council Archive, Perth. An index to the Perth Register of Deeds, 1566-1811, is online at Ancestry.co.uk.
Services of Heirs: see Land & Property above.
Many early Scottish state documents were transcribed and published in the nineteenth century. Some are now available on the internet. The earliest documents are in Latin.
- The Register of the Privy Council of Scotland, First series, 1545-1625, at Ancestry.co.uk.
- The Register of the Privy Council of Scotland, Second series, vols. I-IV, 1625-1632, at Ancestry.co.uk.
- The Register of the Privy Council of Scotland, Second series, vols. II-VIII, 1627-1660, at the Internet Archive texts.
- Registrum secreti sigilli regum Scotorum. The Register of the Privy Seal of Scotland, vol. I, 1488-1599, at the Internet Archive texts.
- Registrum magni sigilli regum Scotorum. The Register of the Great Seal of Scotland, vols. I - IX, 1306-1651, at Ancestry.co.uk.
- Registrum magni sigilli regum Scotorum. The Register of the Great Seal of Scotland, vols. II - VII, 1424-1620, at the Internet Archive texts.
- Rotuli scaccarii regum Scotorum. The Exchequer Rolls of Scotland, vols. VI - VII, 1455-1469, and XVIII - XXIII, 1543-1600, at the Internet Archive texts.
Before1878, the parochial schools were the responsibility of the Heritors of each parish (see Church Records), although mention is frequently made to them in the Kirk Session papers.
After 1878, School Boards were created. Their records and / or school logbooks are held at the Fife Council Archive Centre.
A census of Religious Worship and Education was taken in 1851 at the same time as the census of population. There is a table of statistics about the schools and Sunday schools in Fife in 1851 here.
There are two family history societies which cover this area.
The Fife Family History Society website has a wide range of information relating to Fife, plus details of their publications and how to join. Their resources are housed in Cupar Library. They have published the first 16 volumes of their journal, covering 1989-2004, on CD.
The Tay Valley Family History Society covers the former counties of Fife, Angus, Perthshire & Kinross, and the city of Dundee. They have a Research Centre, with an excellent library, at 179-181 Princes Street, Dundee.
"Statistical accounts" were written on nearly every parish in Scotland on three occasions - in the 1790s (the "Old Statistical Account"), in the 1840s (the "New Statistical Account") and in the 1950s (the "Third Statistical Account"). The author was usually the parish minister. They give fascinating insights into the local topography and history, social and economic conditions, and even the daily lives of people of those times. Published versions include:
- The 'Old' Statistical Account, 1791-1799
- is available online at The Statistical Accounts of Scotland.
- is also online at Google Books, but the parishes are not arranged in any order. Links are given on the parish pages.
- It was reprinted as The Statistical Account of Scotland, 1791-1799 edited by Sir John Sinclair. Vol. X: Fife. With a new Introduction by R G Cant. Published by EP Publishing, Wakefield 1978. pp 816, and:
- The Statistical Account of Scotland, 1791-1799 edited by Sir John Sinclair. Vol. XI: South and East Perthshire, Kinross-shire. With a new Introduction by Bruce Lenman. Published by EP Publishing, Wakefield 1976. pp 685. [This volume includes Arngask, Abernethy, Culross and Tulliallan.]
- The 'New' Statistical Account, 1845
- the Fife volume (vol. IX) is online at Google Books
- the Perthshire volume (vol. X) is online at Google Books. [This volume includes Arngask, Abernethy, Culross and Tulliallan.]
- they are also available online at The Statistical Accounts of Scotland.
- The Third Statistical Account of Scotland - The County of Fife. Alexander Smith. Published by Oliver & Boyd, Edinburgh 1952. 815pp.
A Vision of Britain provides statistics on population, housing, industry and social class from the 1801 census onwards.
Histpop, the online historical population reports website, provides statistics in the published population (census) reports (1801 - 1937), and the reports of the Registrar General for Scotland (1855 - 1920).
The ScotlandsPlaces website has a copy of the 1891 Medical Officer of Health's Report for Fife. (Those parts of Fife which were at that time in Perthshire are not included.)
The hearth tax, due on every hearth in Scotland, and payable by both landlords and tenants, was levied between 1691 and 1695. Records (E69/10 - Fife, E69/19 - Culross & Tulliallan) are held by the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh and online at ScotlandsPlaces. A copy of the Fife listings is held by the Tay Valley Family History Society. The Perthshire hearth tax return (including Culross & Tulliallan) has been reprinted in Perthshire Hearth Tax 1691-1692 published by the Scottish Genealogy Society.
From 1748, taxes were levied on various items for varying lengths of time. These included windows (1748-1798), inhabited houses (1778-1798), retail shops (1785-1789), male servants (1777-1798), female servants (1785-1792), carts & carriages (1785-1798), farm horses, dogs, clocks & watches (1797-1798). The farm horse tax, which is the most useful of these returns, the clock & watch tax, the male servants tax and the female servants tax are all available on the ScotlandsPlaces website. Surviving records are patchy and originals are held by the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh.
Details of taxation records here.
The National Archives, Kew, has a few Scots listed in the Death Duty registers.
Towns were usually referred to as Burghs in Scotland.
The burghs (towns) in Fife were:
- Royal Burghs: Anstruther Easter, Anstruther Wester, Auchtermuchty, Burntisland, Crail, Culross, Cupar, Dunfermline, Dysart, Earlsferry, Elie, Falkland, Inverkeithing, Kilrenny, Kinghorn, Kirkcaldy, Newburgh, Pittenweem, St. Andrews
- Others: Buckhaven and Methil, Cowdenbeath, Ladybank, Leslie, Leven, Lochgelly, Markinch, Newport-on-Tay, St. Monance, Tayport
Records of the former burghs in Fife are held at several locations. Details will be found on the parish pages.
For most of Fife, electoral registers are held by the Fife Council Archive Centre for the years 1914, 1918-1939 and 1950-2001.
There are Voters' Rolls at Ancestry.co.uk for Fife county for 1832-41, 1846, 1861-62, 1863-64, 1864-65, 1878-79; the Western District of Fife for 1860; and for Burntisland, Dysart, Dunfermline and Kinghorn burghs (various dates - see parish pages).