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Help and advice for Crail

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Crail

Description of the parish in 1852

"Crail is a parish and royal burgh, and a sea-port - the latter 26 miles east from Kirkcaldy, and 10 south-east from St Andrews. Its importance has greatly declined, and notwithstanding it possesses great capabilities as a port, it enjoys but very little trade; this, in some measure, may be ascribed to the inconvenience of its harbour, for it is eligibly situated. Its principal exports consist of grain & potatoes: the imports are chiefly coals. 16 vessels belong to the port. The town consists of 2 streets, and 2 or 3 lanes; of the former one is broad and spacious, containing some good houses, several of which are of that massive and antique description which indicate past wealth. Crail was erected into a royal burgh by Robert Bruce. In conjunction with St Andrews, Cupar Fife, the Anstruthers, Kilrenny and Pittenweem, it returns one member to parliament. The parish church, a free church, and an united presbyterian chapel, are the places of worship. The celebrated James Sharp, archbishop of St Andrews, was once minister of the church, and his handwriting is still to be seen in the session records." from Slater's Directory published 1852.

Archives and Libraries

Crail Museum, 64 Marketgate, Crail KY10 3TL has an interesting collection of items concerning the history of the burgh, HMS Jackdaw and HMS Bruce, and also holds several manuscript and printed books of genealogical interest.

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

Bibliography

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.

Cemeteries

There are 2 cemeteries in Crail parish:

1. Crail Churchyard, Marketgate North (grid ref. NO 614080, GPS: 56.262384 -2.62514 Google map):

  • The pre-1855 monumental inscriptions for Crail 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
  • The Sexton's Book covering the years 1754-1793 is included on the OPR film (see Church Records below).
  • The Sexton's Books, containing burials from 1794 - 1854, have been published by the Fife Family History Society.
  • The Sexton's Book covering 1854 - 1923 is held by Crail Museum, 64 Marketgate, Crail, Fife KY10 3TL. An index by A J Campbell has been published by the Fife Family History Society - Publication 31, Crail Burials 1855-1923 from the Sexton Book (vol. 1 : Abbie - Lees); and Publication 32 (vol. 2 : Leslie - Yule).
  • Transcripts of many of the older stones were made by an unknown hand in the 1870s. They are recorded in the Minute Book of the Anstruther Mortsafe Society, 1830-1874, held by the Special Collections Dept. of St Andrews University Library. They are included in Publication 38, Monumental Notes part 2, published by the Fife Family History Society.
  • A CD - Crail Curchyard Survey, vol. 1, The Old Churchyard - has been published by the Crail Preservation Society, and may be purchased from the Crail Museum.
  • A CD with photographs of the stones and transcriptions is available from Scottish Monumental Inscriptions or from The Parish Chest.
  • "Churchyard Memorials of Crail", Erskine Beveridge, 1893, available in local reference libraries and at the Museum, contains much useful information.

2. Crail Cemetery, Bow Butts Road (grid ref. NO 613080, GPS: 56.263397 -2.626801 Google map):

  • The current lair registers (dating from 1923) 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.

Census

Parish / district reference number for 1841 - 1901 censuses: 417. Part in 425 after 1880 (see Civil Registration).

The Isle of May is included in Anstruther Wester (no. 403) for the 1841 -1861 censuses, thereafter it is included in Crail.

The 1841 and 1851 returns can be searched on theFreeCEN 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:

  1841 1851 1861 1871 1881 1891
Crail 1042700 1042254 103826 103988 203518 208750
(Data provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints)

Further information on the main Fife page.

Churches

You can also perform a more selective search for churches in the Crail 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, there was an Associate Session (Burgher, later United Presbyterian, and United Free - Crail West Church) and a Free Church (later United Free - Crail North Church).

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

  • All the inhabitants are of the Established religion except:
  • 3 Episcopalians
  • 3 Burgher Seceders
  • 3 Presbytery of Relief.

The New Statistical Account (written in 1845) gives this information:

  • Within the town there is a congregation of the Associate Synod, who have a church and minister’s house surrounded by a garden.
  • The members of the Free Protesting Church are also building a place of worship.

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

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

Details of church history:

  • Crail Kirk Session:

The old church of Crail, which was built in 1243, was dedicated to St Malrubh with a later dedication to St Mary, and belonged, prior to the reformation, to the Cistercian Nunnery of Haddington. In 1517 the church was granted a collegiate foundation and between the years of 1600 and 1646 Crail held a second charge. In 1954, following the 1929 Union of the Church of Scotland and the United Free Church, the parish church of Crail (known after 1929 as Crail St Mary's) was joined with the former United Free church congregation of Crail St David's. After the union the session continued under the name of Crail and the former St David's church was converted for use as a church hall. In 1976 the Kirk Session of Crail, which sits within the Presbytery of St Andrews, was linked with Kingsbarns.

  • Crail West Church (Burgher, Associate, United Presbyterian, United Free):

On 3 March 1795 a petition was presented to the Burgher Presbytery of Perth requesting sermon within Crail and the surrounding area, and as a consequence, on 16 March 1796 Crail Burgher congregation was established. The Synod, in 1797, granted £20 to the congregation to assist with the erection of their place of worship, which was opened in that same year, and in 1803 the first minister of the congregation, William Fraser, was ordained. Subsequently the congregation suffered various periods without a minister, and its numbers declined, but a new church was built in 1858. The church became part of the United Presbyterian Church in 1847. Following the union of the United Presbyterian Church and the Free Church of Scotland in 1900, the charge became Crail West, United Free Church, and in 1907 a union was established with the United Free Church congregation of Crail North, under the name of Crail United Free Church. Following the union the former West Church and manse were sold.

  • Crail North Church (Free Church, later United Free):

Immediately following the Disruption of 1843 a Free Church congregation was established in Crail with worship initially conducted in a hall in Rosewynd, and the charge was sanctioned in 1845, the same year in which the church of the congregation was opened. Following the union of the United Presbyterian Church and the Free Church of Scotland in 1900, the charge became Crail North, United Free Church, and in 1907 a union was established with the United Free Church congregation of Crail West, under the name of Crail United Free Church. Following 1907, the former West Church and manse were sold and as a result of the later union of the Church of Scotland and the United Free Church in 1929, the congregation was termed Crail St David's, Church of Scotland. A further union was established with the parish church of Crail St Mary's in 1954, under the name of Crail, and after this union the former St David's church was sold. In 1976 the Kirk Session of Crail, which sits within the Presbytery of St Andrews, was linked with Kingsbarns.

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: 417

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

Crail OPR Births / baptisms Proclamations / marriages Deaths / burials / mortcloths
417/1 1684-1745 1655-1745 1684-1693
417/2 1745-1819 1745-1819  
417/3   1685-1721  
417/4   1722-1751 1750-1752
417/5   1752-1779 1753-1793
417/6 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:

From 1685 till 1693 B. M. and D. are entered in parallel cols. of the same pages.
M.  Contracts and Marriages, 1655 - 1684 inclusive, separately recorded. M. and D. are recorded in parallel cols. after 1693. Separate Record containing Contracts of M. 1685 - 1779.
D.  (Burials.) Blank Nov. 1693 - Jan. 1750. After Jan. 1753, the entries occur on occasional pp. of the Record containing Contracts for same period.

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:

1040156 Item 4 Baptisms, 1684-1725; Marriages, 1655-1725; Burials, 1684-1693.
1040157 Baptisms, 1725-1820; Marriages, 1725-1820; Burials, 1739-1741, 1783; Session book (includes Marriage proclamations) 1685-1736.
1040099 Items 1 - 3 Session book (includes Mortcloth dues [burial records], 1752-1779 and Marriage proclamations), 1736-1779; Burials, 1750-1758, 1769-1793; Baptisms, Marriages, 1820-1857.
(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 (417/3, 417/4 and 417/5).

Heritors' Records (HR242) 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:

  • CH2/1542
    Crail Kirk Session
    Minutes, 1648-1684 and 1790-1937; Baptisms, 1811-1815, 1819-1837 and 1856-1915; Marriages, 1818-1831 and 1856-1915; Accounts, 1782-1833 and 1840-1920; Church door collection, 1841-1888.

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

  • Crail Kirk Session
    • 417/3
      Minutes, 1684-1721.
    • 417/4
      Minutes, 1722-1751.
    • 417/5
      Minutes, 1752-1779.

At the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh:

  • HR/242
    Crail parish heritors' records
    Minutes, 1807-1815, 1819-1853, 1859-1929; Cash book, 1819-1853, 1869-1927; Accounts, 1927-1929; Vouchers, 1807-1845, 1864-1867; Papers relating to transference to Church of Scotland, 1927-1929; Miscellaneous, 1815, 1819, 1903-1904, 1932; Plans of manse, 1919.

Other Churches:

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

  • CH3/1562
    Crail West Church (Burgher, Associate, United Presbyterian, United Free)
    Session minutes, 1796-1907; Roll of members, 1809, 1848, 1850 and 1851; Baptisms, 1821-1838, 1840, 1847-1849 and 1852; Minutes of congregational meetings, 1842-1897; Manager's minutes, 1842-1895.
    A transcript of the Associate Congregation baptisms from 1821 to 1852 (with gaps) has been published by the Fife Family History Society Baptismal Registers No. 5. It is also available on CD and on the Records pages of their website.
  • CH3/1563
    Crail North Church (Free Church, later United Free)
    Session minutes, 1844-1907; Deacon's court minutes, 1852-1907.

The Crail 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
Crail, burgh 417/1 1855 1855
Crail, landward 417/2 1855 1855
Crail 417 1856 1967
East Neuk 426 1968 1971
East Neuk 414 1972 2002
Fife 414 2003  

Registration districts did not necessarily coincide exactly with parishes. In the 20th century especially, there were frequent changes in registration districts. The Isle of May was moved to Crail from Anstruther Wester registration district (403) before 1871 and remained there until at least 1901. Part of Crail parish was transferred to Dunino registration district in 1880.

Court Records

At the Special Collections Department of St Andrews University Library:

  • B/10
    Crail Burgh Records
    Registers of deeds and protests, 1760-1765, 1788-1794, 1818-1841 (with warrants, 1682-1826); Services of heirs, cognitions etc, 1758-1779 (with loose, related papers, 1633-1796); Minutes books of sasines, deeds, decreets etc, 1579-1804; Court and council records, 1552-1560, 1566-1584, 1589-1592; Court minutes, 1709-1721.

On the Records pages of the Fife Family History Society website there is an index to Crail Burgh Register of Deeds (1682-1841).

Description and Travel

Crail town centre Ordnance Survey Grid Reference GPS Post code Lat. 56°15'38"N
NO 613076 56.259315
-2.626279
KY10 3RA Lon. 2°37'36"W

Surrounding parishes: Kingsbarns, Kilrenny, Carnbee, Dunino, St Andrews and St Leonards.

You can see pictures of Crail which are provided by:

Directories

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.

Gazetteers

There is a list of places in Crail 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 1st January 1891 the following places, considered by some to be part of Crail parish, were transferred to Dunino parish: part of Balkaithly, Beley, Beley Bridge, part of Chesters and New Bridge.

On 15th May 1891, East Newhall and West Newhall were transferred from the parish of Crail to the parish of Kingsbarns; Grassmiston and Lochton were transferred from Kingsbarns parish to Crail parish.

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

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

Ask for a calculation of the distance from Crail to another place.

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.

At the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh:

  • VR15
    Valuation Rolls: Crail Burgh
    1856 -1930; the Roll from 1930 is included in the Valuation Roll for the County of Fife
  • VR101
    Valuation Rolls: Fife
    1855 -1929, covers the part of the parish outwith the Burgh; 1930 - 1975 covers the whole parish.
  • B/10
    Crail Burgh Records
    Protocol books, 1566-1637, nd; Register of sasines, 1672-1953; Register of sasines minute books, 1809-1953.

Maps

Historic maps:

Present-day maps:

You can see maps centred on OS grid reference NO613076 (Lat/Lon: 56.259366, -2.626281), Crail which are provided by:

Obituaries

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.

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.

Population

Year Population  
1755 2173  
1801 1652  
1851 1903  
1901 1605  * boundary changed
1951 1592  

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 Crail 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, Cupar Sheriff Court and Crail Burgh Register of Deeds.

Public Records

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

At the Fife Council Archive Centre, Kirkcaldy:

  • FCC/6/17
    Crail Parochial Board / Parish Council
    Minute books, 1891-1930.

Schools

School Board records and school logbooks are held at the FifeCouncil Archive Centre. Crail records:

At the Fife Council Archive Centre, Kirkcaldy:

  • Crail Primary School
    Admissions Registers, 1955-2000; Log books, 1877-1919, 1938-1995.
  • Crail School Board
    Minutes, 1873-1919.

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
Crail Crail 352 239

Statistics

"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

Taxation

At the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh:

  • E326
    Assessed Taxes Schedules 1748-1802
    Crail Royal Burgh

At the Special Collections Department of St Andrews University Library:

  • B/10
    Crail Burgh Records
    Cess collection, 1835.

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.

At the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh:

  • B/10
    Crail Burgh Records
    Crail burgh records, including: Protocol books, 1566-1637, nd; Register of sasines, 1672-1953; Register of sasines minute books, 1809-1953.

At the Special Collections Department of St Andrews University Library:

  • B/10
    Crail Burgh records
    Registers of deeds and protests, 1760-1765, 1788-1794, 1818-1841 (with warrants, 1682-1826); Services of heirs, cognitions etc, 1758-1779 (with loose, related papers, 1633-1796); Minutes books of sasines, deeds, decreets etc, 1579-1804; Court and council records, 1552-1560, 1566-1584, 1589-1592; Court minutes, 1709-1721; Council and committee minutes, 1708-1969; Crail Public Library minutes, 1891-1933. Treasurer's accounts, 1682-1708, 1720-1731, 1741-1749, 1770-1780, 1789-1842, 1858-1875; Treasurer's cash book, 1858-1875; Steelyard account book, 1876-1887; Valuation of burgh rents account, 1712-1714; Cess collection, 1835; Burgh mail books, 1733-1869; Stent rolls, 1806-1860; Miscellaneous burgh accounts and vouchers, 1792-1901; Assessment roll, 1974-1975; Abstracts of accounts, undated. Inventory of burgh charters, 1829; Burgh charters and associated legal documents, 1369-1793; Papal bulls, 1510-1514; Papers concerning Crail harbour, 1819-1885; Burgess roll, 1760-1808 (including weavers' roll); Burgess tickets/warrants, 1829-1864; Papers concerning Crail church, manse, school and town hall, 1788-1886; Papers concerning prisons and crime, 1829-1867; Correspondence on various burgh matters, 1770-1879; Water supply papers, 1868-1901; Papers concerning election of MP for Fife burghs, 1780-1806; Miscellaneous legal documents concerning Crail, 1580-1839; Miscellaneous legal papers, 1788-1897; Miscellaneous papers, 18th century-1902; Plans of buildings and works in Crail, 1899-1903. Crafts of Crail court books, 1592-1743; Hammermen records, 1588-1743; Cordiners records, 1563-1743; Baxters records, 1647-1743; Squaremen records, 1688-1743; Tailors records, 1684-1743; Coopers records, 1690-1743; Weavers records, 1694-1741, 1792-1845.
On the Records pages of the Fife Family History Society website there is an index to Crail Burgh Register of Deeds (1682-1841).

At the Fife Council Archive Centre, Kirkcaldy:

  • B/CR
    Crail Town Council
    Abstract of accounts, 1954; miscellaneous bundles and correspondence, 1926-1974.

Voting Registers

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

  • B/10
    Crail burgh records
    Papers relating to elections of Member of Parliament for Crail, Kilrenny, Anstruther Easter and Wester and Pittenweem.