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Help and advice for Dunfermline

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Dunfermline

Description of the parish in 1852

in the scale of manufactures in the county. From its elevated position it commands a prospect over 14 different counties. A branch of the Edinburgh Perth & Dundee Railway comes to the town; a branch to Charlestown is used principally in the conveyance of coal for shipment at that port. The town consists of one principal street stretching from east to west, with a number of smaller streets crossing at right angles. Within the last 35 years its size has been greatly increased, not only by the extension of the cross streets but by the addition of a large suburb to the west; and during the last 7 years the improvements effected have been considerable. The streets are gas-lighted and the town is abundantly supplied with excellent water conveyed through pipes from the springs on the high ground to the north of the town. The prosperity of the burgh is due to its manufacture of table linens - the cloth is woven to a greater extent than in any other town in Great Britain. Other trades include iron and brass founding, iron forging, brewing, soap boiling, dyeing and the manufacture of tobacco. The coal trade is very extensive and limestone is wrought extensively. In addition to the parish church, there is also a secession church (now the United Presbyterian church). Markets are held on Tuesday and Friday. " edited from Slater's Directory published 1852.

Archives and Libraries

Dunfermline Carnegie Library has a large collection of genealogy and local history materials, as well as the more recent archives of the former burghs of the Dunfermline district. It also has an excellent collection of old newspapers.

The Dunfermline Heritage Community Projects website has information about the town, its past, and the Friends of Dunfermline City Archives group.

The Andrew Carnegie Birthplace Museum has excellent displays about the town's famous benefactor.

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

The National Collection of Aerial Photography website has photographs of Dunfermline taken in the 1940s.

Bibliography

Fernie's History of the town and parish of Dunfermline, published 1815, is at Google Books.

Mercer's History of Dunfermline, published 1828, is at Google Books.

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.

Chalmers' Historical and Statistical Account of Dunfermline, published 1844, is also at Google Books, as is vol. 2, published in 1859.

The Annals of Dunfermline by Ebenezer Henderson, published 1878, is also online.

Old Dunfermline (Stenlake Publishing) contains many photographs and full descriptions.

Many publications about the history of Dunfermline can be obtained from the Fife Family History Society.

Cemeteries

There are 3 cemeteries and a crematorium in Dunfermline parish:

1. Dunfermline Abbey, St Margaret Street, Dunfermline (grid ref. NT 089873; GPS: 56.06988 -3.462805 Google map):

  • Pre-1855 monumental inscriptions are in Mitchell & Mitchell (see below).
  • Transcripts of many of the older stones were made by Robert Monteith in An Theater of Mortality, 1713. They are included in Publication 37, Monumental Notes by Erskine Beveridge and Robert Monteith, published by the Fife Family History Society. Montieth's book is available at the Internet Archive texts.
  • A lair register, recording the purchasers of lairs in the Abbey Churchyard, but not dates of burials,  has been published "Dunfermline Abbey Church Kirk Session Burial Register 1761-1857 and 1866-67". It can be obtained from the Scottish Genealogy Society. The original is at the National Records of Scotland (CH2/592/57).
  • The current lair registers (dating from 1854) are administered by Fife Council, Bereavement Services West, Dunfermline Crematorium, Masterton Road, Dunfermline,KY11 8QR. Tel. 01383 602335. Fax 01383 602665.

2. Dunfermline Cemetery, Leys Park Road, off Halbeath Road, Dunfermline (grid ref. NT 105881; GPS: 56.077071 -3.439585 Google map):

3. Douglas Bank Cemetery, Pattiesmuir, by Rosyth (grid ref. NT 091838; GPS: 56.038864 -3.459396 Google map):

  • A CD with photographs of the stones and transcriptions is available from Scottish Monumental Inscriptions or from The Parish Chest.
  • The current lair registers (dating from 1920), are administered by Fife Council, Bereavement Services West, Dunfermline Crematorium, Masterton Road, Dunfermline,KY11 8QR. Tel. 01383 602335. Fax 01383 602665.

4. Dunfermline Crematorium, Masterton Road, Dunfermline (grid ref. NT 119855; GPS: 56.054432 -3.414115 Google map):

  • Opened in 1973.
  • The current registers (dating from 1973) are administered by Fife Council, Bereavement Services West, Dunfermline Crematorium, Masterton Road, Dunfermline,KY11 8QR. Tel. 01383 602335. Fax 01383 602665.

Monumental inscriptions are listed in Fifeshire Monumental Inscriptions (pre-1855) vol. 2 The western parishes by John Fowler Mitchell & Sheila Mitchell, published by the Scottish Genealogy Society. ISBN 0901061972

War graves can be seen at the Scottish Wargraves Project and war memorials can be seen at the Scottish War Memorials Project.

Census

Parish / district reference number for 1841 - 1901 censuses: 424. Some parts in 432 from 1861 until 1891 (see Civil Registration). The ScotlandsPeople website has a street index to the 1911 census.

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

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

Two pages are missing from some films of the 1851 census. Consequently, some websites will also be missing these pages. The pages are transcribed here. The adresses are 8 and 9 Damside Street; surnames: Moyes, Lawrence, Whitehill, Watson, Christie, Paton, Cunning, Young, Downie, Anderson, Stark.

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
Dunfermline 1042700, 1042701 1042265, 1042266 103827 103989,
index to streets on 104117
203520, 203521,
index to streets on 203392
208752, 208753, 208754,
index to streets on 208606
(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 Dunfermline 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

Dunfermline - Church History - links and information

Church Records

Dunfermline - Church Records - links and information

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
Dunfermline burgh 424/1 1855 1877
Dunfermline landward 424/2 1855 1877
Dunfermline 424 1878 1971
Dunfermline 432 1972 2002
Fife 432 2003  

Registration districts did not necessarily coincide exactly with parishes. In the 20th century especially, there were frequent changes in registration districts. Parts of Inverkeithing parish were included in Dunfermline registration district, and parts of Dunfermline parish were included in Inverkeithing registration district, until 1891.

Court Records

The Guild Court Book of Dunfermline 1433-1597, edited by Elizabeth PD Torrie, is published by the Scottish Record Society and can be purchased from the Tay Valley Family History Society.

Content headings for Dunfermline Sheriff Court are on the Court Records page.

The aliment decrees from Dunfermline Sheriff Court (1830-1854) have been extracted from the Register of Decrees and indexed by 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.

At the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh:

  • RH11/27
    Dunfermline Regality Court, 1531-1807
  • B/20
    Dunfermline Burgh Records
    Including: Protocol books, 1556-1695; Register of deeds and protests, 1638-1884; Register of Tacks, 1731-1761; Court and Council records, 1488-1681 (some transcripts); Nine merk court books, 1830-1863; Dean of Guild Court minutes, 1753-1778; Deeds warrants, 1742-1768.
    On the Records pages of the Fife Family History Society website there is an index to Dunfermline Burgh Register of Deeds (1700-1884).
  • B/20
    Dunfermline Burgh Records
    Records,1488-1946, including: Court and Council records, 1488-1681 (some transcripts); Nine merk court books, 1830-1863; Dean of Guild Court minutes, 1753-1778.

At the Local History Department, Dunfermline Carnegie Library:

  • Dunfermline Parochial Board / Parish Council
    Records of the Convener's Court (1686-1772) and the burgh police court (1941-1970).

Description and Travel

Dunfermline town centre Ordnance Survey Grid Reference GPS Post code Lat. 56°4'14"N
NT 091874 56.070758
-3.461750
KY12 7NW Lon. 3°27'44"W

There is a comprehensive collection of links to Dunfermline information at the Annals of Dunfermline Links Page.

There is an informative Dunfermline website.

Surrounding parishes: Inverkeithing, Dalgety, Aberdour, Beath, Saline, Carnock, Torryburn, Cleish (in Kinross-shire); and, before 1891: Fossoway (in Kinross-shire) and, by ferry and later bridges across the River Forth, Queensferry (in West Lothian [Linlithgowshire as it was then]).

You can see pictures of Dunfermline 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 (see also Limekilns and Charlestown on p. 407).

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 Dunfermline 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

Prior to 1891, Inverkeithing parish had a detached portion entirely surrounded by Dunfermline parish. The village of North Queensferry, on the other hand, was part of Dunfermline parish.

On 15th May 1891, the following subjects were transferred from the parish of Inverkeithing to the parish of Dunfermline: Brucehaven, Milesmark, Whitemyre Foundry, Blackburn, Logie, Urquhart, North Urquhart, Lady's Park and some properties in Dunfermline Burgh.

On the same date, the following subjects were transferred from Dunfermline parish to Inverkeithing parish: Carlingnose, Ferryhills, North Cliff, Fernbank House, Ferrybarns, Rockville, St Margaret's, and the whole village of North Queensferry.

Also on the same date, a part of Dunfermline parish north of the south march of Moreland (comprising Moreland House & Moreland Hill lands) was transferred from the parish of Dunfermline to the parish of Cleish in the county of Kinross. This formalised an arrangement by which the area had been treated as being part of the county of Kinross for some time.

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

You can see the administrative areas in which Dunfermline 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 National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh:

  • VR/26
    Valuation Rolls: Dunfermline Burgh
    1855-1957; the Roll from 1957 is included in the Valuation Roll for the County of Fife
  • VR/101
    Valuation Rolls: County of Fife
    1855-1975, contains the landward (i.e. not burgh) part of the parish.
  • B/20
    Dunfermline Burgh Records
    Records,1488-1946, including: Protocol books, 1556-1695; Register of sasines, 1670-1946; Register of sasines minutes, 1822-1946; Dean of Guild Court minutes, 1753-1778.

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.

Maps

Historic maps:

Present-day maps:

You can see maps centred on OS grid reference NT091874 (Lat/Lon: 56.070806, -3.461771), Dunfermline which are provided by:

Medical Records

Hospital records (mostly of an administrative nature) are held by the Fife Council Archive Centre. The following hospitals are included: Dunfermline and West Fife Hospital (originally Dunfermline Cottage Hospital) 1891-1948; Dunfermline Combined Poorhouse and Hospital 1859-1867. Patient records are closed for 100 years.

Names, Geographical

There is an index to the Ordnance Survey Object Name Books for this parish here.

Newspapers

There is an extensive collection at Dunfermline Carnegie Library.

The British Newspaper Archive, also available available on findmypast.co.uk, has:

  • the Dunfermline Press, Apr. 1859 - Mar. 1864
  • the Dunfermline Saturday Press, Apr. 1859 - Dec. 1867

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, 27 and 28 (for Limekilns and North Queensferry).

Occupations

A list of Dunfermline Hammermen, 1585 - 1862, extracted from the Minute Books of the Dunfermline Hammermen Incorporation, held by Dunfermline Museum, has been published by the Fife Family History Society in Publication 13 - Trade Incorporation Records.

Records of Dunfermline City Police Officers are held at the Fife Council Archive Centre.

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.

There is a series of articles about many Fife family businesses in Fife Family History Society's Journal, New Series 9.

At the National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh:

  • MS.3866
    'Ane new book for the use of the wright[s] of Dunfermline . . . Bought the 15 day of Sep: 1724 Att the disire of the Tread James Walker present Deacon.' A book containing minutes of meetings of the Incorporation of Wrights of Dunfermline in two series which have been foliated separately. The first series (ff. 1-22) contains records of admissions to the Incorporation at various dates within the period 1677-1763. The second series (inverted ff. 1-126) relates almost entirely to appointments of deacons, boxmasters, and other officers, and to audits of boxmasters' accounts, 1724-7, 1730-1832. Inverted ff. 127-79 and 181-4 are blank, and inverted f. 180 contains a list of members 'who have been qualified to Goverment since the accession of George the Fourth'.
  • MS.3576
    Books of the Weavers of Dunfermline. Book containing miscellaneous records of the Weavers of Dunfermline, 1596-1683, including minutes of various dates from 1596 to 1653, with one undated (ff 1-3, 7v, 23v-26v.), agreements between masters and servants, and elections of Deacons and Boxmasters, 1673-81 (f. 15). Several of the minutes are quoted in Daniel Thomson, 'The Weavers' Craft', Paisley, 1903.
A list of Dunfermline Wrights, 1677 - 1763, extracted from the Incorporation of Wrights of Dunfermline Minute Book, held by the National Library of Scotland, has been published by the Fife Family History Society in Publication 14 - Trade Incorporation Records. It is also available on the Records pages of their website, along with a similar listing of Dunfermline Weavers (1596-1863).

Politics and Government

Dunfermline District Council

The Local Government (Scotland) Act 1929 (19 & 20 Geo. V, c.25) required county councils to draw up a scheme of district councils, to be composed partly of directly elected district councillors and partly of the county councillors from electoral divisions within the district. District councils had various responsibilities delegated to them by the county council under a scheme of delegation. These might include the letting of houses, the upkeep of cemeteries and until 1948 the poor law. District councils also administered special districts or committees responsible for certain functions such as scavenging or water supply, financed by additional rates. District councils were abolished in 1975 by the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973 (c.65).

At the FifeCouncil Archive Centre, Markinch:

  • FCC/3
    Records of Dunfermline District Council
    Records including: poor relief / social welfare, 1930s-1940s..

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 Local History Department, Dunfermline Carnegie Library. See Public Records below.

Peter Higginbotham's website has a lot of information about Dunfermline combination poorhouse.

At the Fife Council Archive Centre, Kirkcaldy:

  • H/N/2/1
    Dunfermline Combination Poorhouse
    Register of restraint and seclusion, 1859-1867
    It records method used to restrain 6 [sic] inmates: Robert Beveridge, George Westwood, John Campbell, James McNair, and George Philp.

Population

Year Population
1755 8552
1801 9980
1851 21687
1901 31697  * boundary changed
1951 50831

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 Dunfermline may be found in either the St Andrews Commissariot (CC20) or the Edinburgh Commissariot (CC8) records. From 1824 to 1960, commissary business was conducted by the Sheriff Court of Fife at Cupar (SC20). From 1960, it has been conducted at Dunfermline (SC21) Sheriff Court.

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 the Dunfermline Burgh Register of Deeds which is indexed (1700-1884) on the Records pages of the Fife Family History Society website.

Public Records

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

At the Local History Department, Dunfermline Carnegie Library:

  • Dunfermline Parochial Board / Parish Council
    Parochial Board Minutes (from 1848), Parish Council Minutes (from 1895).

Schools

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

At the Fife Council Archive Centre, Kirkcaldy:

  • Baldridge School
    Log books 1874-1900
  • Canmore School
    Log books 1931-1958
  • Commercial School
    Log books 1891-1959; other records 1931-2000
  • Dunduff Public School
    Log books 1900-1933
  • Dunfermline High School Primary Department
    Log books 1912-1930
  • McLean Primary School
    Log books 1906-2001
  • Milesmark Primary School
    Log books 1878-1929, 1874-1992; admissions registers 1917-1929
  • Milesmark Infant School
    Admissions registers 1887-1920
  • Milesmark Seniors
    Admissions registers 1920-1938
  • Occupation Centre
    Log books 1948-1970
  • Pittencrieff Primary School
    Log books 1900-1951; admissions registers 1892-1938, 1902-1910, 1910-1926, 1926-1932, 1947-1953
  • Queen Anne Public School
    Log books 1877-1892
  • Queen Anne High School
    Log books 1875-1987; admissions registers 1929-1989
  • Queen Anne Primary School
    Admissions registers 1904-1929
  • Queen Anne Infants School
    Log books 1898-1921
  • St Leonards Primary School
    Log books 1879-1968, 1986-1989; admissions registers 1891-1957 (gaps)
  • St Leonards Infants School
    Log books 1902-1935
  • St Margaret's Roman Catholic Primary School
    Log books 1919-1951; admissions registers 1929-1951
  • Touch Primary School
    Log books 1970-1993
  • Townhill Primary School
    Log books 1900-1985
  • Wellwood School
    Log books 1934-2001
  • Crossford Primary School
    Log books 1874-1923
  • Crossford & Cairneyhill School
    Log books 1905-1917
  • Crossgates School
    Log books 1874-1993
  • Crossgates Primary School
    Admission registers, 1966-2000.
  • Crossgates Secondary School
    Admission registers, 1956-1966.
  • Crossgates Village School Committee
    Minutes 1859-1873
  • Halbeath Infants School
    Log books 1898-1966
  • Halbeath School
    Admission registers 1927-1966
  • Limekilns School
    Log books 1867-1945; managers' minutes 1862-1873
  • Charlestown Day and Infant School
    Log books 1875-1914
  • Dunfermline Burgh School Board
    Minutes 1880-1919; register of teachers 1870-1910
  • Dunfermline Parish School Board
    Minutes 1873-1914
  • Dunfermline School Management Committee
    Minutes 1919-1945
  • Milesmark Joint School Board (burgh & parish of Dunfermline)
    Minutes 1873-1913

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
Dunfermline (Burgh) Commercial 725 695
High Primary 209 99
McLean 400 322
Milesmark 400 313
Pittencrieff 550 474
Queen Anne 467 303
St Leonard's 492 371
Wilson's Institution 114 118
St Margaret's 151 69
Dunfermline (Landward) Charlestown 215 127
Crossford 103 81
Crossgates 213 218
Dunduff 64 41
Halbeath 400 298
Limekilns 201 128
Townhill 400 325
Wellwood 200 152

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:

  • GD1/410
    Tax Roll of lordship of Dunfermline, 1566-1622
  • E69/10
    Hearth Tax - County of Fife
  • E326
    Assessed Taxes Schedules 1748-1802
    Dunfermline Royal Burgh & County of Fife

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/20
    Dunfermline Burgh Records
    Records,1488-1946, including: Protocol books, 1556-1695; Register of sasines, 1670-1946; Register of sasines minutes, 1822-1946; Presentment books, 1865-1946; Register of deeds and protests, 1638-1884; Register of Tacks, 1731-1761; Court and Council records, 1488-1681 (some transcripts); Nine merk court books, 1830-1863; Council minutes, 1638-1851; Dean of Guild Court minutes, 1753-1778; Burgh of Dunfermline Trust papers, 1835-1861; Accounts, 1740-1864; Miscellaneous volumes, 1671-1831; Deeds warrants, 1742-1768; Miscellaneous papers, 1549-1924.
    On the Records pages of the Fife Family History Society website there is an index to Dunfermline Burgh Register of Deeds (1700-1884).

At the Local History Department, Dunfermline Carnegie Library:

  • Dunfermline Burgh records
    The more recent records of Dunfermline Town Council including: Council Minutes (from 1851), Police Commissioners Minutes (from 1837), Parochial Board Minutes (from 1848), Parish Council Minutes (from 1895), Accounts, Valuation Rolls and Committee Minutes.

At the Fife Council Archive Centre, Kirkcaldy:

  • B/DUN
    Dunfermline Burgh records
    Records including: Minutes, 1901-1975; signed minutes, 1851-1975; planning surveys, 1946-1959; planning applications, 1948-1975; old age pensions registers of claims, 1908-1948; hackney carriage licences, 1927-1965.

Gordon Johnson has published a new index to Extracts from the Burgh records of Dunfermline in 16th and 17th centuries (published 1951).

Voting Registers

There are Voters' Rolls at Ancestry.co.uk for Dunfermline burgh for 1859, 1864 and 1871.