Description of the parish in 1862

"Carnbee parish contains the villages of Arncroach, Carnbee and Newton of Balcormie. It is bounded by Cameron, Denino, Crail, Kilrenny, Anstruther wester, Pittenweem, St Monans and Kilconquhar. The parish is about 4 miles square. The northern part of the parish is moorland in character while the southern half is rich and fertile. The parish has excellent depsoits of limestone, freestone and coal, the latter being worked at Newton of Balcormie and Cassingray. The parish church is in Carnbee while there is a Free Church in Arncroach. With the exception of a few tradesmen, the inhabitants are chiefly employed in rural labours or at the collieries. " edited from Westwood's Directory for the counties of Fife & Kinross published 1862.


The parish includes Arncroach and Carnbee.


Archives & Libraries

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 Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, Edinburgh
  • 17th and 18th century tax rolls
  • Ordnance Survey [place] Name Books
  • an opportunity to transcribe thousands of historic documents


A very good description is to be found in the relevant chapter in History of the County of Fife: From the Earliest Period to the Present Time by John M Leighton, published 1840, online at Google Books.



Carnbee Churchyard (grid ref. NO 531065, GPS: 56.293017, -2.972580):

  • The pre-1855 monumental inscriptions for Carnbee Churchyard are listed in "Fifeshire Monumental Inscriptions (pre-1855) vol. 1 South east parishes" by John Fowler Mitchell & Sheila Mitchell, published by the Scottish Genealogy Society. ISBN 0901061948
  • Another listing has been published by the Fife Family History Society in their Publication 15, Monumental Inscriptions.
  • The current lair registers (dating from 1887) are administered by Fife Council, Bereavement Services East, County Buildings, St Catherine Street, Cupar, KY15 4TA. Tel. 01334 659336. Fax 01334 412896.
  • There are photographs of some monuments in the Kirkyard.
  • A CD with photographs of the stones and transcriptions is available from Scottish Monumental Inscriptions or from The Parish Chest.


Lists of heads of households taken for the 1821 and 1831 censuses appear amongst the Old Parish Registers (413/4). They have been transcribed and published by the Fife Family History Society in their Publication 20.

Parish / district reference number for 1841 - 1901 censuses: 413

The 1841 and 1851 returns can be searched on the FreeCEN website.

The 1851 census has been indexed and published by the Tay Valley Family History Society.

The 1861 census has been indexed and can be downloaded here

Some census records on microfilm may be consulted in LDS Family Search Centres around the world.

LDS Library Film Numbers:

(Data provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints)

Further information on the main Fife page.



Presbyterian / Unitarian
Carnbee, Church of Scotland

Church History

In addition to the parish church at Carnbee, there was also a Free Church in Arncroach.

The Old Statistical Account (written in the 1790s) gives this information about Dissenters:

  • "4 respectable families of the Episcopal persuasion
  • 6 families who attend an Antiburgher meeting
  • about 50 more who join themselves to the Kirk of Relief"

The New Statistical Account (written in 1844) gives this information:

  • Not hitherto any dissenting meeting house within the parish, the few Dissenters residing within the bounds attending the relief chapel at Pittenweem or the Burgher chapel at Largo ward.
  • A Free Church meeting house is at present erecting at Arncroach but it would be premature to pass any opinion as to the support which it will receive from the parishioners.

The 1865 Ecclesiastical Directory lists the parish church and the Free Church.

Information and pictures of the churches at the Scottish Churches website.

Details of church history:

  • Carnbee Parish Church:

The old parish church of Carnbee, which was rebuilt in 1793, belonged prior to the reformation to the Abbey of Dunfermline and the session records ministry from 1564, in the person of William Scott. In 1971 the Kirk Session of Carnbee, which sits within the jurisdiction of the Presbytery of St Andrews, established a link with Pittenweem.

  • Carnbee Free and United Free Kirk Session:

The church of the Free Church of Carnbee was built in Arncroach and opened in 1845, but the charge, partly due to an attempt to unite the congregation with that of Pittenweem, wasn't sanctioned until 1851. Following the union of the United Presbyterian Church and the Free Church of Scotland in 1900, Carnbee Free Church became Carnbee United Free Church and in 1921 the name of the charge was changed to Carnbee and Bonerbo, due to the existence of a mission hall at Bonerbo. Following the 1929 union of the United Free Church and the Church of Scotland, Carnbee and Bonerbo joined with the parish church congregation of Carnbee, under the name of Carnbee, and in 1950 the Bonerbo mission hall was disposed of. In 1971 the Kirk Session of Carnbee, which sits within the Presbytery of St Andrews, established a link with Pittenweem.


Church Records

Data provided by the  Scottish Archive Network (SCAN)

The Parish Church (Established Church, Church of Scotland):

The original Old Parish Registers (of baptisms / births, proclamations / marriages, and deaths / burials) of the Church of Scotland, which cover the years up to 1854, are held in the National Records of Scotland in Edinburgh, and they can all be consulted there at the National Records of Scotland. The baptisms / births, proclamations / marriages and deaths / burials indexes can be searched at the ScotlandsPeople website. Copies of the register entries may be purchased.

Parish reference number: 413

The Old Parish Registers (OPRs) span the following dates (although there are gaps within these ranges):

Carnbee OPR Births / baptisms Proclamations / marriages Deaths / burials / mortcloths
413/1 1646-1664 1646-1699 1677-1699
413/2 1662-1819 1726-1819 1782-1819
413/3   1705-1725 1706-1760
413/4 1820-1854 1820-1848 1820-1854
(Data supplied by the National Records of Scotland)

The Detailed List of the Old Parochial Registers of Scotland, published 1872, provides this information about the content of the OPRs, including the gaps within them:

B.  and M.  intermixed till 1654. Four leaves imperfect at 1650, and four at 1660.
B.  Blank Oct. 1654 - Jan. 1662, from which date there is a separate Record. Blank Oct. 1674 - Oct. 1692, Sept. 1698 - Jan. 1701, and Nov. 1704 - July 1705. Mothers' names not recorded till 1692.
M.  Contracts prior to 1654. Blank (exc. entries of indirect reference to M.) June 1654 - July 1669. Contracts and Marriages 1669 - 1684. Blank June 1684 - May 1687, from which date Contracts till 1699. Blank Oct. 1699 - July 1705, and May 1752 - Sept. 1761. No entries Dec. 1781 - Nov. 1783, from which date the M. again occur among the B. Entries more full after 1786.
D.  Mortcloth Dues intermixed with other matters till 1760. Blank 1699 - 1706, and 1760 - 1784. Burials 1784 - 1786, then blank till Dec. 1790, from which date Deaths.

Copies of the registers on microfilm may be consulted in some local libraries and at LDS Family Search Centres around the world. The indexes to baptisms / births and proclamations / marriages can also be searched on the LDS Family Search website or on the IGI on microfiche in local libraries.

LDS Library Film Numbers:

1040152 Items 2 - 3 Session book (includes Baptisms, 1646-1670, Marriage proclamations, 1646-1699, Mortcloth dues [burial records], 1672-1699); Baptisms, 1662-1674, 1693-1819; Marriages, 1726-1752, 1761-1819; Mortcloth dues, 1782-1792; Burials, 1790-1819.
1040153 Items 1 - 2 Session book (includes Marriage proclamations, 1705-1726, Mortcloth dues, 1706-1760); Baptisms, 1820-1855; Marriages, 1820-1848; Burials, 1820- 1854.
(Data provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints)

Deaths / burials are listed on Fife Family History Society's  Pre-1855 Fife Deaths CD.

Further information on the main Fife page.

Kirk Session records are held at the Special Collections Dept. of St Andrews University Library, with digital copies at the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh. Some Kirk Session material is to be found in the OPR records (413/1 and 413/3).

Heritors' Records (HR82) are at the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh.

At the Special Collections Dept. of St Andrews University Library, with digital copies of the earlier volumes at the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh:

  • CH2/1032
    Carnbee Kirk Session
    Minutes and accounts, 1742-1748; Accounts, 1761-1847; Minutes, 1817-1860 and 1905-1971; Cash book, 1847-1971; Communion roll, 1882-1979; Contract between the Earl of Kellie and David Ness, anent building a new church at Carnbee, 1793; Register of marriages, 1849-1977; Two boxes of miscellaneous papers.

Included in the Old Parochial Registers on microfilm and at the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh but not online:

  • Carnbee Kirk Session
    • 413/1
      Minutes, 1646-1699.
    • 413/3
      Minutes, 1705-1760.

At the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh:

  • HR/82
    Carnbee parish heritors' records
    Minutes, 1787-1930; Cash book, 1847-1930.

Other Churches:

Records for other churches are held at the Special Collections Dept. of St Andrews University Library.

At the Special Collections Dept. of St Andrews University Library:

  • CH3/1030
    Carnbee Free Church, United Free
    Minutes, 1852-1929; Deacon's Court minutes, 1856-1929; Communion roll, 1880-1922; Cash book, 1917-1929; Baptismal register, 1869-1894 and 1908-1926.

The Carnbee page of the LDS Family Search Research Wiki has more information about church history and records.


Civil Registration

Registration of Births, Marriages and Deaths began in Scotland on 1st January 1855. Full information on the main Fife page.

Registration districts covering this parish:

Registration districtnumberstart dateend date
East Neuk42619681971
East Neuk41419722002

Registration districts did not necessarily coincide exactly with parishes. In the 20th century especially, there were frequent changes in registration districts.


Description & Travel

Carnbee churchOrdnance Survey Grid ReferenceGPSPost codeLat. 56°14'56"N
NO 53106556.248693
KY10 2RULon. 2°45'32"W

Surrounding parishes: Kilrenny, Crail, Dunino, Cameron, Kilconquhar, St Monans, Pittenweem, Anstruther Wester.

You can see pictures of Carnbee which are provided by:



Westwood's ParochialDirectory 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.



Several old gazetteers are available. They all contain descriptions of the parish and many are also worth searching for entries of places within the parish.

  • David Webster's Topographical Dictionary of Scotland, published 1819, online at Google Books.
  • Fullarton's Topographical, Statistical and Historical Gazetteer of Scotland, published 1842, online at Google Books.
  • Samuel Lewis's Topographical Dictionary of Scotland, published 1846, online at British History Online.
  • Barbieri's Descriptive and Historical Gazetteer of the Counties of Fife, Kinross and Clackmannan, published 1857, is at Google Books.
  • Frances Groome's Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland (1882-4) and John Bartholomew's Gazetteer of the British Isles (1887), are on A Vision of Britain (click on "Historical places and writing").
  • Frances Groome's Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland(1892-6) on Electric Scotland

Historical Geography

A Vision of Britain provides historical descriptions, population & housing statistics, historic boundaries and maps.


Land & Property

Details of historic buildings and archaeological sites in this parish held by the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, Edinburgh, are catalogued at ScotlandsPlaces. In the results, click RCAHMS. Unfortunately, not all entries have digital images.



Historic maps:

Present-day maps:

You can see maps centred on OS grid reference NO517059 (Lat/Lon: 56.243565, -2.781568), Carnbee which are provided by:



Andrew Campbell has 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.

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, 26.



The parish is included in Andrew Campbell's compilation of Fife Shopkeepers and Traders 1820-1870 taken 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.


Poor Houses, Poor Law

The relief of paupers after 1845 was carried out by the Parochial Board and later by the Parish Council. Their records are at the Fife Council Archive Centre. See Public Records below.




There is a page with census statistics from 1755 to 1961 here.

See also A Vision of Britain and Histpop for population statistics.


Probate Records

Probate records are 'Confirmations' in Scotland.

Prior to 1824, wills, testaments & inventories of residents of Carnbee may be found in either the St Andrews Commissariot (CC20) or the Edinburgh Commissariot (CC8) records. From 1824, commissary business has been conducted by the Sheriff Court of Fife at Cupar (SC20).

Indexes and finding aids are given on the main Fife page.

Local sources worth searching for deeds include St Andrews Commissary Court and Cupar Sheriff Court.


Public Records

Parochial Boards and their successors, Parish Councils, administered many local functions including poor relief.

At the Fife Council Archive Centre, Kirkcaldy:

  • FCC/6/13
    Carnbee Parochial Board / Parish Council
    Minute books, 1848-1930; Letter book, 1858-1867.


School Board Records and / or school logbooks are held at the Fife Council Archive Centre. Carnbee records:

At the Fife Council Archive Centre, Kirkcaldy:

  • Arncroach Primary School
    Log books, 1874-1985.
  • Carnbee Public School
    Log books, 1873-1975; School Board Minute Books, 1873-1919.
  • Ovenstone Residential Special School
    Log books, 1970-1995.

Entries less than 50 years old may contain sensitive personal information and are not on open access. If you are a former pupil you are entitled to see your own entry. Please contact the Archivist for further details.

Education statistics for Fife schools in 1891-2 list the following board schools in the parish:

School BoardSchoolAccommodation for scholarsAverage attendance


"Statistical accounts" giving fascinating insights into the local topography and history, social and economic conditions, and even the daily lives of people, were written by the parish ministers in the 1790s and the 1840s. For more information see the main Fife pages



The hearth tax, clock & watch tax, male servants tax, female servants tax, and farm horse tax are all on ScotlandsPlaces.

See also the Early Taxation Records page.