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Help and advice for Collessie

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Description of the parish in 1852

"Collessie is a parish lying to the north of Kettle. It is 8 miles in length by 5 in breadth. It consists chiefly of fine enclosed lands, and some fine plantations rising from the Eden to the hills on the north. The village, of no importance in the way of business, is situated 3 miles from Auchtermuchty and 6 from Cupar. The railway passes through the parish. The parish church is a neat building surmounted by a spire." 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.


Collessie Churchyard, Braehead, Collessie (grid ref. NO 286134, GPS: 56.305799 -3.155249 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
  • Collessie Churchyard to 31 December 1911 by Henry Rae-Arnot (which is an extremely rare book) gives a list of lairs and those interred in them, monumental inscriptions, etc. Part of it has been published by the Fife Family History Society in Publication 17, Monumental Inscriptions. There are copies of the book at Cupar Library and Fife Council Archive Centre.
  • 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 current lair registers (dating from 1855) are administered by Fife Council, Bereavement Services East, County Buildings, St Catherine Street, Cupar, KY15 4TA. Tel. 01334 659336. Fax 01334 412896.
  • A CD with photographs of the stones and transcriptions is available from Scottish Monumental Inscriptions or from The Parish Chest.
  • War graves can be seen at the Scottish Wargraves Project and war memorials can be seen at the Scottish War Memorials Project.
  • A useful contact is the Friends of Collessie Church.


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

Parish / district reference number for 1851 - 1901 censuses: 416

The 1851 return can be searched on the FreeCEN

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:

  1841 1851 1861 1871 1881 1891
Collessie - 1042254 103826 103988 203518 208750
(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 Collessie 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 Collessie, there was a Church of Scotland at Ladybank and a Free Church at Ladybank.

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

  • Many of the Seceders give no information to the Session Clerk of the births of their children.
  • There are many dissenters of every denomination in the parish, but by far the greater number adhere to the Established Church.

The New Statistical Account (written in 1836) gives this information:

  • No dissenting meeting house in the parish.
  • About 80 families of dissenters go to their several places of worship in adjoining parishes.

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

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

Website of the Friends of Collessie Church.

Details of church history:

  • Collessie Church
    The church of Collessie, which was dedicated by Bishop de Bernham in 1243, formerly belonged to the Abbey of Lindores. In 1968 Collessie united with Ladybank under the ministry of Rev A. Philip, minister at Ladybank and under the name of Collessie and Ladybank. A further union was established in 1983 with Cults and Kettle to form the charge of Howe of Fife. 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.
  • Ladybank Kerr Memorial Church
    The parish of Ladybank was disjoined from that of Collessie on the 5th June 1882 and erected quoad sacra, ministry of the congregation is recorded from that same year, in the person of Robert Hagart Kerr. The established church of Ladybank became termed in later years Ladybank Kerr Memorial and in 1930, following the 1929 union of the Church of Scotland and United Free Church, Kerr Memorial was joined with the former United Free Church congregation of Ladybank St Mary's. The two united under the name of Ladybank and after the union the former Kerr Memorial church remained in use as the place of worship. A later union followed in 1968 with Collessie, to form the charge of Collessie and Ladybank and in 1983 the parish of Howe of Fife was established by the uniting of Collessie and Ladybank with Cults and Kettle. 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 Andrew's.
  • Collessie Free Church / Ladybank St Mary's United Free Church
    The session of Collessie Free Church was established at the time of the Disruption in 1843, when the minister of the established church of Collessie, and a number of his congregation, adhered to the Free Church. A church to house the newly established charge was erected at Giffordtown however in 1875 the congregation was removed to new premises at Ladybank. Accordingly, at the time of the union of the Free Church and the United Presbyterians, Collessie was renamed Ladybank St Mary's U.F., and following the 1929 union of the Church of Scotland and the United Free Church, the congregation became Ladybank St Mary's Church of Scotland. In 1949 Ladybank St Mary's joined with the charge of Ladybank Kerr Memorial, under the name of Ladybank, and after the union the former U.F. church continued in use as the place of worship. Further union followed in 1968 with the Parish Church congregation of Collessie to form the session of Collessie and Ladybank. Collessie Free Church and Ladybank St Mark's kirk session both sat within the Presbytery of Cupar.

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: 416

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

Collessie OPR Births / baptisms Proclamations / marriages Deaths / burials / mortcloths
416/1 1696-1819 1696-1819 1727-1819
416/2   1696-1773 1723-1773
416/3 1820-1854 1820-1854 1820-1854
Register of Neglected Entries      
(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 1757. Upper portion of leaves of Record 1724 - 1757 very much wasted. and many entries partially, some entirely, destroyed. Mothers' names seldom recorded in entries of B. till 1817.
M.  blank Dec. 1757 - Nov. 1783. There is, however, a separate Record containing Proclamations Dec. 1696 - April 1773, the leaves of which (1723 - 1734) are partially destroyed by damp.
D.  (Burials.) Entries May 1727 - Jan. 1817, recorded on alternate pp. of the Register of B., after which date there is a separate Record. Mortcloth Dues 1723 - 1773 recorded among the Proclamations of M.

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:

1040155 Item 4 Baptisms, 1696-1794; Marriages, 1696-1733, 1750, 1756; Burials, 1727-1794.
1040156 Items 1 - 3 Baptisms, burials, 1794-1854; Marriages ,1783-1854; Session book (includes Mortcloth dues [burial records], 1723-1773 and Marriage proclamations), 1696-1773.
(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 National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh. Some Kirk Session material is to be found in the OPR records (416/2).

Heritors' Records (HR36) are at the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh.

At the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh:

  • CH2/765
    Collessie Kirk Session
    Minutes and accounts, 1696-1733, 1742-1745 and 1757-1772; Payment for seats, 1779-1780; Register of poor, 1777-1779; Minutes, 1772-1818 and 1833-1968; Accounts, 1772-1811; Communion roll, 1851-1893, 1902-1921 and 1925-1948; Baptismal register, 1855-1967; Burial register, 1855-1872; Proclamation register, 1855-1967; Cash book, 1913-1933.

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

  • 416/2
    Collessie Kirk Session
    Minutes and accounts 1690-1773.

At the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh:

  • HR/36
    Collessie parish heritors' records
    Minutes, 1775-1927; Accounts, 1813-1927; Papers relating to buildings, 1824-1926; Papers relating to transference to Church of Scotland, 1925-1927; Miscellaneous papers, 1834-1836, 1925-1927; Plan of manse, 1902.

Other Churches:

At the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh:

  • CH2/1117
    Ladybank Kerr Memorial Kirk Session
    Minutes, 1882-1947; Manager's minutes, 1892-1947; Cash book, 1882-1926; Baptismal register, 1882-1947; Proclamation register, 1888-1947; Communion roll, 1918-1946.
  • CH3/61
    Collessie Free Church / Ladybank St Mary's United Free Church
    Session minutes, 1843-1938 and 1945-1946; Deacon's Court minutes, 1843-1946; Communion roll, 1897-1909 and 1935-1946; Baptismal register, 1928-1946; Proclamation register, 1932-1946.
    The LDS have filmed the following records which may be consulted at LDS Family History Centres.
    1482991 Items 4-5 Collessie Free Church Session minutes, 1843-1885; Deacon's court minutes, 1843-1895. Original source: CH3/61/1-2 National Records of Scotland
    (Data provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints)

The Collessie 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
Collessie 416 1855 1967
Auchtermuchty 406 1968 1971
Auchtermuchty 418 1972 2002
Fife 418 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

Collessie church Ordnance Survey Grid Reference GPS Post code Lat. 56°18'21"N
NO 286134 56.307617
KY15 7RQ Lon. 3°9'4"W

Surrounding parishes: Abdie, Monimail, Cults, Kettle, Strathmiglo, Auchtermuchty, Newburgh.

You can see pictures of Collessie which are provided by:


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.


There is a list of places in Collessie 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

On 15th May 1891, the following subjects were transferred from the parish of Cults to the parish of Collessie: Annesmuir (part); Sunnybraes; Edensmuir Commonty; Sweethome.

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

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

Land and Property

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

  • VR28
    Valuation Roll: Ladybank Burgh 1974-1975.

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 NO286134 (Lat/Lon: 56.307669, -3.155607), Collessie 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 989  
1801 930  
1851 1520  
1901 2161  * boundary changed
1951 2042  

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 Collessie 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/6/16
    Collessie Parochial Board / Parish Council
    Minute books, 1922-1930; Printed register of Interments, Collessie Churchyard (17th century-1911), 1911 [Collessie Churchyard to 31 December 1911 by Henry Rae-Arnot].


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

At the Fife Council Archive Centre, Kirkcaldy:

  • Collessie Public School
    Admission Register, 1889 onwards; Log books, 1864-1956, 1976-1982; School Board Minutes 1873-1911; School Board Letter books, 1902, 1909.

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
Collessie Collessie 129 94
Ladybank 272 273


"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.

Town Records

Towns were usually referred to as Burghs in Scotland.

In 1878 the inhabitants of Ladybank adopted the General Police and Improvement (Scotland) Act and Ladybank became a police burgh with police commissioners responsible for the cleansing, lighting, policing and public health of the burgh. The police commissioners were replaced by Ladybank Town Council in January 1901. Ladybank Town Council was abolished in 1975 and its powers were assumed by Fife Regional Council and North East Fife District Council. These in turn were replaced by Fife Council in 1996.

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

  • B/78
    Ladybank Town Council
    Minutes, 1877-1975; Abstracts of accounts, 1901-1974; Valuation roll, 1974-1975; Miscellaneous loose papers, mostly about Ladybank Roll of Honour and War Memorial, 1906-1923.