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Help and advice for Elie

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Description of the parish in 1857

"Elie parish is situated on the Firth of Forth around Elie Bay. It is bounded on the north and west by Kilconquhar and on the east by Abercrombie. It is 1 mile from east to west and 1 mile in breadth, with an area of 1590 acres. 1470 acres are under cultivation, 70 acres are wooded, and 40 acres are waste land lying near the shore, being little better than a bed of sand. There are no hills. It is watered by a small stream which issues from Kilconquhar Loch and empties into Elie harbour. The soil is of an average quality. The rent of land is from £1 to £4-5/- per acre. Although coals are not wrought now in the parish, it bears ample proof of this having been done at a former period. Coals are now brought from another parish or imported from Newcastle. There is a Free Church but no U P church. There are 2 small schools besides a parish school. With few exceptions the inhabitants are sober, industrious, moral and religious. Elie Burgh is a Burgh of Barony. It is neat, clean, well-built and has a fine appearance. The harbour is good, safe and well sheltered from W and SW gales. A few fishermen live in the village, and go along the coast for white fish. Grain, potatoes and other produce are taken to Leith weekly; and other mercantile goods are brought back in return. The Aberdeen and Dundee steamboats stop at the harbour twice a week to land and take in passengers. The nearest market is Colinsburgh, 2.5 miles distant, which is also the post town, although there is a sub-post office in the village. The parish church and school are here. There is one inn, a good subscription library and a friendly society called the Sea Box. From the fine clean sands few places in the Firth are better adapted for sea bathing, hence in summer it is much resorted to for that purpose. It is 5 miles from Anstruther, 13 from St Andrews and 15 from Cupar." from 'A Descriptive & historic gazeteer of the counties of Fife, Kinross & Clackmannan', M Barbieri, published 1857.

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.

Old Elie & Earlsferry (Stenlake Publishing) contains many photographs and full descriptions.


Elie Churchyard, High Street, Elie (grid ref. NO 492001, GPS: 56.190563 -2.820748 Google map):

  • The pre-1855 monumental inscriptions 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 18, Monumental Inscriptions.
  • Transcripts of many of the older stones were made by Erskine Beveridge in the 1890s. They are included in Publication 37, Monumental Notes by Erskine Beveridge and Robert Monteith, published by the Fife Family History Society.
  • Fife Family History Society have also produced Publication 39, Elie Churchyard Monumental Inscriptions which contains a listing of the inscriptions on the stones, together with notes made by Erskine Beveridge in 1894, and some made by James Clark, the gravedigger. There are also listings of the names on the war memorial; and others which were recorded in the Minute Book of the Anstruther Mortsafe Society, 1830-1874, held by the Special Collections Dept. of St Andrews University Library.
  • 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 1866) 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.
  • There are photographs and transcriptions of Elie and Earlsferry war memorials. The site also includes biographical details of the personnel.


Parish / district reference number for 1841 - 1901 censuses: 427

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.

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
Elie 1042701 1042267 103829 103990 203523 208756
(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 Elie 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

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

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

  • There are a few Seceders, Independents and Bereans, but the great body of the people belong to the Established Church.

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

  • No dissenting place of worship in the parish.
  • No more than 15 individuals are members of dissenting congregations and dthese are spread among half a dozen different sects. There may also be a few who attend the ministrations of dissenters without being in communion with them. Both members and occasional hearers cannot be more than 20 to 25.
  • 2 or 3 attend no place of religious worship.

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

Details of church history:

  • Elie Kirk Session
A church was built and endowed in Elie by William Scott of Ardross, trustee of his father, Sir William Scott of Elie. It was opened on 17 April 1639, but ministry is recorded from 1622. The parish of Elie was disjoined from Kilconquhar on 11 September 1641. The steeple was built by Sir John Anstruther of Anstruther in 1726. On Earlsferry point there was a hospital or hostel to which probably a chapel was attached, founded by Duncan, Earl of Fife, who died in 1154. After the foundation of Elie Free Church in 1844 (later known as Elie Wood Memorial), the parish became known as Elie Old. Elie Old and Elie Wood Memorial united in 1949 to form Elie, which in turn was linked with Kilconquhar and Colinsburgh on 24 April 1977.
  • Elie Free Church
A new church was erected in 1887 and called Elie New 'Wood Memorial Church'. Wood Memorial Church united with Elie Old Church of Scotland on 5 June 1949. Elie was linked with Kilconquhar and Colinsburgh on 24 April 1977

Elie Church - 350 years, 1639 - 1989 by David Thomson is available from the Fife Family History Society.

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: 427

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

Elie OPR Births / baptisms Proclamations / marriages Deaths / burials / mortcloths
427/1 1639-1775 1639-1775 1736-1760
427/2 1773-1819 1774-1819 1783-1808
427/3 1820-1854 1820-1854 1822-1854
(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.  Leaf imperfect at 1676 - 1677. Blank (exc. one entry) May 1681 - April 1701, and Sept. 1724 - May 1732. On the margin of a good many entries are short notes indicating the time and manner of death, etc. of the parties.
M.  Blank June 1674 - Jan. 1678, and (exc. 12 entries of Contracts Sept. 1682 - Oct. 1684) Dec. 1678 - April 1701. Blank also Nov. 1718 - June 1732.
D.  (Deaths and Burials.) Blank Nov. 1760 - Nov. 1783, from which date the entries are engrossed on alternate pp. of the Register of Baptisms. Many of the entries after 1783 contain interesting information respecting the parties deceased, in addition to the time and place of Death and Burial.
[Subsequent to publication of the Detailed List, Death records 1822 - 1854 were added to the OPR series (vol. 427/3).]

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:

1040110 Items 4 - 5 Baptisms, 1639-1681, 1701-1724, 1732-1820; Marriages, 1639-1684, 1701-1718, 1732-1820; Burials, 1736-1760, 1783-1808.
1040111 Item 1 Baptisms, Marriages, 1820-1855; Burials, 1822-1855
(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.

Heritors' Records (HR253) 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:

  • Elie Kirk Session
    Kirk Session Minutes with Accounts, 1639-1653; Minutes, 1653-1949; Account Books and Cash Books, 1704-1972; Marriage Proclamation Register, 1932-1949; Misc. papers.

At the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh:

  • GD1/27/40
    Elie Church
    Seat rents at Elie Church: (a) Empty cover endorsed ' Decreet: Mr James Wilson against the feuars of Elie for payment of their seat rents. 3d Aprile 1741'. (b) List of outstanding seat rents in the church of Elie, c 1744. (c) List of resting seat rents in the church of Elie for the period preceding Whitsunday 1749.

At the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh:

  • HR/253
    Elie parish heritors' records
    Minutes, 1855-1930; Accounts, 1887-1930; Papers relating to buildings, 1905; Papers relating to transference to Church of Scotland, 1926-1929.

Other Churches:

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

  • Elie Free Church
    Free Kirk Session Minutes, 1844-1949; Deacons' Court minutes, 1896-1927; Account Book, 1901-1935; Communion Roll, 1853; Photographs, 1880-1886; Inventory, 1940, Disjunction certificate books, 1932, 1944; miscellaneous papers and correspondence; plans of church, 1899.

The Elie 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
Elie 427 1855 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.

Description and Travel

Elie town centre Ordnance Survey Grid Reference GPS Post code Lat. 56°11'25"N
NO 488001 56.190754
KY9 1AX Lon. 2°49'31"W

Surrounding parishes: Newburn, St Monans, Kilconquhar.

You can see pictures of Elie 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.


There is a list of places in Elie 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

Elie parish had a detached portion north-west of the main part of the parish. On 15th May 1891 this part was transferred to Kilconquhar parish (comprising part of Charleton, Newton House, Muircambus and part of West Muircambus).

An area of Kilconquhar parish situated on the coast was, on the same date, transferred to the parish of Elie. This contained the burgh of Earlsferry, the villages of Liberty & Williamsburgh, Donald's Land, Grange, Grangehill, Melon Park, St Ford, part of West Muircambus, Kincraig, Old Glebe and Crooks.

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

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


The Elie and Earlsfery History Society have a very informative website.

Land and Property

At the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh:

  • VR28
    Valuation Rolls: Earlsferry Burgh
    1855-1930; the Roll from 1930 is included in the Valuation Roll for the County of Fife
  • B/24
    Elie and Earlsferry Burgh Records
     Register of sasines, 1696-1959; Register of sasines minutes, 1822-1959.

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 NO488001 (Lat/Lon: 56.190803, -2.826585), Elie 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, 27.


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 642  
1801 730  
1851 843  
1901 1142   * boundary changed
1951 1325  

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 Elie 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/6/25
    Elie Parochial Board / Parish Council
    Minute books, 1893-1930.


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

At the Fife Council Archive Centre, Kirkcaldy:

  • Elie Primary School
    Log books, 1864-1927; School Board Minutes 1873-1919.
  • Elie Infant School
    Log books, 1875-1880.
  • Elie Williamsburgh School
    Log books, 1873-1908.

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
Elie Earlsferry 102 101
Elie 160 101


"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.

At the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh:

  • B/24
    Elie and Earlsferry Burgh Records
    1696-1959, including: Register of sasines, 1696-1959; Register of sasines minutes, 1822-1959.

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

  • B/24
    Elie and Earlsferry Burgh Records
    Earlsferry: Council minutes, 1742-1929; Elie and Earlsferry: Council minutes, 1929-1975 (with Dean of Guild Court minutes, 1929-1952); Police commissioners minutes, 1900-1901; Cash books, 1806-1831, 1848-1885; Abstracts of accounts, 1909-1930 and undated; Licensing register, 1901-1903; Housing minutes, 1930-1954; Dean of Guild Court: register of proceedings, 1929-1937; Index to register of plans, 1895-1975; Elie, Liberty and Williamsburgh: Town Council minutes, 1901-1929; Police commissioners minutes, 1864-1904.