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Help and advice for Balmerino

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Description of the parish in 1852

"Balmerino or Balmerinoch (pronounced Ba'mirnie) is a parish lying on the south bank of the river Tay, extending, on an average, about 3 and a half miles in length, and 2 and a half in breadth. The surface is a gradual decline to the side of the river. The harbour of Balmerino is small, but a considerable quantity of grain is annually exported from it. The kirk and little hamlet lie on the road along the high ground, from the ferry opposite Dundee, to Newburgh. To the west, and on a slip of ground intruding upon the waters of the Tay, stands the ancient village of Balmerino, adjacent to which are the ruins of the once-famed abbey - a beautiful structure, begun by Alexander II and his mother Emergarde, daughter of the Earl of Beaumont, in 1229. These ruins, which are richly clothed in ivy, and surrounded with some fine tall trees, are much admired by strangers." from Slater's Directory published 1852.

Archives and 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.

Balmerino and its Abbey by the Rev. James Campbell, published 1867 and enlarged 1899, contains a very full history of the parish and much genealogical information and is online at the Internet Archive.


Balmerino Cemetery, Balmerino (grid ref. NO 362248, GPS: 56.411943 -3.038504 Google map):

  • The pre-1855 monumental inscriptions are listed in Fifeshire Monumental Inscriptions (pre-1855) vol. 3 The north east parishes by John Fowler Mitchell & Sheila Mitchell, published by the Scottish Genealogy Society. ISBN 0901061999
  • 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 ARCHway.
  • The Kirk Session Records held at St Andrews University Library contain some deaths from 1823 - 1851, which have been indexed and published in the Fife Family History Society Journal, vol. 8, no. 3, April 1996. They are also available on the Records pages of the Fife Family History Society's website.
  • The current lair registers (dating from 1869) are administered by Fife Council, Bereavement Services East, County Buildings, St Catherine Street, Cupar, KY15 4TA. Tel. 01334 659336. Fax 01334 412896.


The original 1841 census returns were lost in transit to Edinburgh.

Parish / district reference number for 1851 - 1901 censuses: 409

The 1851 return can be searched on the FreeCEN website.

The 1851 census has been indexed 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:

  1851 1861 1871 1881 1891
Balmerino 1042253 103825 103987 203517 208748
(Data provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints)

Further information on the main Fife page.


You can also perform a more selective search for churches in the Balmerino area that are recorded in the GENUKI church database. This will also help identify other churches in nearby townships and/or parishes. You also have the option to see the location of the churches marked on a map.

Church History

In addition to the parish church at Balmerino, there was a Free Church in the Gauldry serving Logie and Gauldry.

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

  • There are about 20 Seceders.

The New Statistical Account (written in 1838) gives this information:

  • Established Church - 195 families; Dissenting or Seceding families - 20.

The 1865 Ecclesiastical Directory lists the parish church and the Free Church (Logie and Gauldry).

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

Details of church history:

  • Balmerino Parish Church:

The church of Balmerino held a dedication to St Marnoch and it belonged, prior to the reformation, to the Abbey of Balmerino which was destroyed in 1547, ruins of which still stand today. The present day parish church of Balmerino was built in 1811. In 1937, following the 1929 union of the Church of Scotland and the United Free Church, Balmerino was joined with the former United Free church congregation of Gauldry, remaining after the union under the name of Balmerino. Balmerino declared a vacancy between the years of 1978 and 1984 and following this period a link was established with Wormit in January 1984. The kirk session sat within the Presbytery of Cupar until the restructuring of the presbyteries in 1976, when it became part of the Presbytery of St Andrews.

The church website has much more information about its history.

  • Logie & Gauldry United Free Church, Gauldry Church of Scotland:

The minister of Logie came out of the Church of Scotland at the Disruption in 1843, and a church was built in the Fife village and opened in 1844. A separate station was maintained at Gauldry from 1843. In 1848 the Free Church General Assembly sought the union of the charges, but the union did not occur until 1852 as a suitable site for the united charge could not be obtained. The majority of the congregation was in Gauldry where a converted building was opened as a church in 1867. The congregation joined the United Free Church in 1900, on the union of the Free Church of Scotland and the United Presbyterian Church. After the union of the United Free Church and the Church of Scotland in 1929, the charge's designation became Gauldry, within the Presbytery of Cupar and Synod of Fife; and it united with Balmerino, under the designation Balmerino, in 1937.

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: 409

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

Balmerino OPR Births / baptisms Proclamations / marriages Deaths / burials / mortcloths
409/1 1632-1779 1632-1779  
409/2 1779-1819 1779-1819 1747-1762
409/3 1820-1854 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 1782; after which they occur on alternate pp. of the Register. Duplicate of Record 1652 - 1657, and 1690 - 1712. B. defective 1782 - 1784; M. defective 1782 - 1787. Not very carefully kept after 1782. Mothers' names not recorded in entries of B. till 1784, and frequently omitted even after that date.
D.  (Burials.)

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:

1040194 Items 6 - 7 Session book (includes Baptisms and Marriage proclamations), 1632-1674, 1690-1779; Baptisms, 1779-1820, 1832, 1835; Marriages, 1779-1820; Burials, 1747-1762.
1040150 Item 1 Baptisms, 1820-1854; Marriages, 1820-1855.
(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 (409/1).

Heritors' Records (HR579) are at the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh.

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

  • CH2/1540
    Balmerino Kirk Session
    Minutes, 1696-1753 and 1857-1953; Accounts, 1690-1787; Minutes and accounts, 1745-1751 and 1755-1780; Communion roll, 1872-1929; Proclamations and births, 1696-1820; Births and baptisms, 1820-1870; Register of deaths and burials, 1744-1762 and 1823-1856; Proclamations and marriages, 1820-1893; Register of births, 1855-1856; Proclamations, 1893-1978; Accounts, 1729-1787; Cash book, 1857-1922.

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

  • 409/1
    Balmerino Kirk Session
    Minutes, 1632-1695

At the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh:

  • HR/579
    Balmerino parish heritors' records
    Minutes, 1882-1927; Cash book, 1883-1928.

Other Churches:

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

  • CH3/1119
    Logie & Gauldry United Free Church, Gauldry Church of Scotland
    Minutes, 1848-1901; Deacons' court minutes, 1843-1901; Communion rolls, 1852-1920; Register of baptisms, 1873-1892; Collections and cash book, 1843-1904; Cash book, 1847-1909; Sustentation fund cash book, 1854-1890; Collections, 1848-1853; Copy of presentation album to Rev G R Sommerville, 1902;  Minutes, 1902-1938; Deacons' court minutes, 1910-1938; Communion roll, 1919-1937.

The Balmerino 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 district number start date end date
Balmerino 409 1855 1967
Newport-on-Tay 451 1968 1971
Newport-on-Tay 411 1972 2002
Fife 411 2003  

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

Description and Travel

Balmerino Abbey Ordnance Survey Grid Reference GPS Post code Lat. 56°24'35"N
NO 358247 56.410152
DD6 8SB Lon. 3°2'33"W

Surrounding parishes: Creich, Flisk, Kilmany, Forgan.

You can see pictures of Balmerino which are provided by:


The parish entry in Pigot's National Commercial Directory for the whole of Scotland, 1837, is online at Google Books.

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.

A directory of Balmerino and Gauldry appears in theDundee Directory from 1876 to 1974. There is a complete run of this publication at the Local Studies Department, Wellgate Library, Dundee. Complete Dundee directories for 1876, 1878, 1880, 1882, 1884 and all years to 1911 are online at the National Library of Scotland's Scottish Directories pages. The Dundee directory for 1929-30 can be purchased from the Parish Chest.


There is a list of places in Balmerino parish, with links to online historical and modern maps.

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.

You can see the administrative areas in which Balmerino has been placed at times in the past. Select one to see a link to a map of that particular area.

Land and 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 NO358247 (Lat/Lon: 56.410207, -3.042022), Balmerino 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 etc.

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.


Year Population
1755 565
1801 786
1851 945
1901 576
1951 533

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 Balmerino 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/6/9
    Balmerino Parish Council
    Minute book, 1907-1930.


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

At the Fife Council Archive Centre, Kirkcaldy:

  • Balmerino School Board
    Minute books, 1873-1887.

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 Board School Accommodation for scholars Average attendance
Balmerino Balmerino 129 110


"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.