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Help and advice for Largo

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Description of the parish in 1862

"Largo is bounded by the parishes of Kilconquhar, Newburn, Ceres and Scoonie. It contains the villages of Upper Largo (or Kirkton), Lower Largo, Lundin Mill and New Gilston. It is about 4.5 miles north - south and 3 miles in breadth. To the west of Largo Law, a deeply wooded ravine, Keil’s Den, intersects the parish from north - south. It is laid out with footpaths and is very picturesque, so is a favourite resort for all those who visit in the summer for sea bathing. The village of Lower Largo stands on the bay. Most of the houses have a decaying look, being mostly built from red sandstone taken from the sea. In old times a large trade was carried on here with Holland, and more recently Norway, but that is long at an end. Upper Largo is a well-built village with a number of good houses and shops. There is an institution in the village called Wood’s Hospital, for the maintenance of indigent persons of the name of Wood. Both Upper and Lower Largo are favourite resorts for sea bathing. The village of Lundin Mill is chiefly inhabited by weavers. The village of New Gilston is chiefly inhabited by miners. A noted native of the parish was Alexander Selkirk, the prototype of Robinson Crusoe. Besides the parish church, there is a Free Church at Kirkton, and a UP Church and a Baptist Church at Lower Largo." edited from Westwood's Directory for the counties of Fife & Kinross published 1862.

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.


There are 2 cemeteries in Largo parish:

1. Largo Old Churchyard, Church Place, Upper Largo (grid ref. NO 424035, GPS: 56.220452 -2.931344 Google map):

  • The pre-1855 monumental inscriptions are in Mitchell & Mitchell (see below).
  • Another listing of the Largo Churchyard stones has been published by the Fife Family History Society in their Publication 16, Monumental Inscriptions.
  • 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.
  • In addition to the Register of Burials in the Largo OPR, there is a Register of Burials 1796 - 1837 among the Kirk Session records (CH2/960/11) at the Special Collections Dept. of St Andrews University Library.
  • A CD with photographs of the stones and transcriptions is available from Scottish Monumental Inscriptions or from The Parish Chest.

2. Largo Cemetery, North Feus, Upper Largo (grid ref. NO 422038, GPS: 56.223254 -2.933342 Google map):

  • The pre-1855 monumental inscriptions are in Mitchell & Mitchell (see below).
  • The current lair registers (dating from 1859) are administered by Fife Council, Bereavement Services East, County Buildings, St Catherine Street, Cupar, KY15 4TA. Tel. 01334 659336. Fax 01334 412896.
  • There is a listing of grave locations in Fife of holders of the Victoria Cross.

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

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


Parish / district reference number for 1841 - 1901 censuses: 443

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.

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
Largo 1042703 1042269 103831 103994 203528 208763
(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 Largo 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 a Relief Church at Lower Largo (later United Presbyterian, St David's United Free, then Church of Scotland) and  a Free Church (later Upper Largo United Free) at Upper Largo.

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

  • Since the demission of Mr Ferrier, who along with a Mr Smith, minister at Newburn, formed a sect of Independents, a spirit of schism has prevailed in this and all the adjacent parishes..
  • Clergy abound here: there being 1 of the Establishment, 1 of the Relief, 1 of the Independents and 2 of the Aabaptists.
  • The number of souls belonging to the Establishment is 1211; belonging to the Separatists, including 3 of the Episcopal persuasion, 702.

The New Statistical Account (written in 1837) gives this information:

  • 2 dissenting chapels - 1 belonging to the Relief and 1 belonging to the Baptist persuasion
  • 350 families belong to the Established Church, and 200 are Dissenters of all classes; not a few individuals unconnected with any religious establishment

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

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

Details of church history:

  • Largo Kirk Session:

The church of Largo was dedicated by Bishop de Bernham in 1243 and belonged, prior to the reformation, to the Benedictine Nunnery of North Berwick. It is thought that the church was rebuilt in the early years of the 17th cent and restoration work was later carried out in 1894. In 1958 Largo united with Newburn under the name of Largo and Newburn and a link was later established in 1987 with the charge of Largo St David's. The kirk session sits within the Presbytery of St Andrews.

  • Largo Free Church (later Upper Largo United Free Church):

At the time of the Disruption in 1843 the minister of the parish of Largo, and a substantial proportion of his congregation, adhered to the Free Church, and for a time worshipped in a temporary wooden building until the church of Largo Free Church was opened in 1844. Mission work was additionally conducted from 1884 in the district of New Gilston. Following the union of the United Presbyterian Church and the Free Church of Scotland in 1900, Largo Free Church became the session of Largo United Free Church and after a brief linkage with Lathones from 1917 to 1924, the congregation was dissolved.

  • Lower Largo relief church, United Presbyterian, St David's United Free, Church of Scotland:

The Relief congregation of Largo dates back to the year 1771 and it is thought to have been established as the result of a group of parishioners who were expressing dissatisfaction with the Established Church. A church was erected to house the new congregation, which was later rebuilt in 1872, and on 18 March 1772 the first minister, Robert Patterson, was ordained. From 1847 the church was part of the United Presbyterian Church. Following the union of the United Presbyterian Church and the Free Church of Scotland in 1900, the congregation became Lower Largo United Free Church, later Lower Largo St David's U.F.; and following the union of the United Free Church and the Church of Scotland in 1929, Largo St David's Church of Scotland. In 1987 Largo St David's, which sits within the Presbytery of St Andrews, linked with the charge of Largo and Newburn.

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: 443

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

Largo OPR Births / baptisms Proclamations / marriages Deaths / burials / mortcloths
443/1 1636-1656 1636-1656  
443/2 1670-1754 1670-1756  
443/3 1754-1819 1757-1819  
443/4     1767-1854
443/5 1820-1854 1820-1854  
Register of Neglected Entries 1834-1846    
(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 Dec. 1688.
B.  blank Dec. 1644 - Jan. 1647 and July 1656 - Sept. 1670. No entries Aug. 1689 - Jan. 1691. After 1766, irregular and interpolated entries are of frequent occurrence. Mothers' names not recorded till Jan. 1723.
M.  blank Dec. 1645 - Jan. 1647, Aug. 1656 - Dec. 1670, and Dec. 1688 - March 1693. No entry Dec. 1756 - Dec. 1757.
D.  (Burials.) It being impossible to separate the portion 1820 - 1854 from the earlier part of the Record, in consequence of the manner in which it has been kept, the whole has been retained by the Registrar-General.

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:

1040187 Item 5 Session book (includes Baptisms, Marriage proclamations) 1636-1643.
1040180 Session book (includes Baptisms, Marriage proclamations), 1643-1656; Baptisms, 1670-1820; Marriages, 1670-1820.
1040188 Items 1 - 2 Burials (most are arranged alphabetically), 1767- 1858; Baptisms, Marriages, 1820-1854; Neglected entries (5 baptisms), 1834-1846.
(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 (443/1).

Heritors' Records (HR372) 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:

  • CH2/960
    Largo Kirk Session
    Minutes and accounts, 1670-1689; Minutes, 1691-1751 and 1769-1983; Accounts, 1692-1834; Testimonials, 1768-1781; Burial register, 1796-1837; Miscellaneous papers, 18th and 19th cent; Communion roll, 1851-1954; Congregational board minute book, 1964-1974; Vacancy committee book, 1889-1966; Collections and disbursements, 1834-1933; Cash book, 1933-1984; Seat letting book, 1929-1952; Seat letting cash book, 1928-1961; List of occupants of pews, 1900; Register of marriages, 1855-1864; Proclamations of banns, 1892-1898; Marriages, burials and baptisms, 1900-1958; Minutes of trustees of Simpson Institute, 1894-1984; Minutes of Largo Girl's Guild, 1929-1933; Minutes of Largo Girl's Association, 1933-1950; Special schemes collection book and elder's district book, 1924-1963; Return of statistics, 1906-1928.

    The above list of persons who brought testimonials from other parishes from 1767 - 1781, and the list of communicants from 1844 - 1857 have been transcribed and have been published by the Fife Family History Society in their Publication 20.

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

  • 443/1
    Largo Kirk Session
    Minutes, 1636-53.

At the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh:

  • HR/372
    Largo parish heritors' records
    Minutes, 1835-1931; Accounts, 1835-1931; Papers relating to buildings, 1843-1923; Papers relating to transference to Church of Scotland, 1925-1928; Papers relating to teinds and stipend, 1894, 1906; Plans of church, 1896.

Other Churches:

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

  • CH3/204
    Largo Free Church (later Upper Largo United Free Church)
    Session minutes, 1904-1924; Deacon's Court minutes, 1881-1924.
  • CH3/844
    Lower Largo relief church, United Presbyterian, St David's United Free, Church of Scotland
    Minutes, 1772-1912; Scroll minutes, 1796-1803; Accounts, 1772-1802; Manager's minutes, 1883-1935; Communion roll, 1882-1896; Proclamation register, 1932-1973.

The Largo 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
Largo 443 1855 1967
Leven 443 1968 1971
Leven 415 1972 2002
Fife 415 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

Largo church Ordnance Survey Grid Reference GPS Post code Lat. 56°13'13"N
NO 423036 56.221451
KY8 6EH Lon. 2°55'49"W

Surrounding parishes: Newburn, Kilconquhar, Scoonie, Ceres.

You can see pictures of Largo 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 Largo 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.
  • 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 Largo 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 Largo 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.


Historic maps:

Present-day maps:

You can see maps centred on OS grid reference NO423036 (Lat/Lon: 56.221501, -2.932070), Largo which are provided by:

Names, Geographical

There is an article on the origin of the name 'Emsdorf' here.


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, 28.


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.

At the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh:

  • GD1/812
    Margaret Bethune, midwife in Largo,
    Register of deliveries, 1853-1887.

Poor Houses, Poor Law etc.

The relief of paupers after 1845 was carried out by theParochial Board and later by the Parish Council. Their records are at the Fife Council Archive Centre.See Public Records below.


Year Population
1755 1396
1801 1867
1851 2800
1901 2046
1951 2500

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 Largo 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/6/40
    Largo Parochial Board / Parish Council
    Minute books, 1845-1930.


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

At the Fife Council Archive Centre, Kirkcaldy:

  • Kirkton of Largo Primary School
    Log books, 1873-1939; admission registers, 1873-2001.
  • Lundin Mill Public School
    Log books, 1899-1960.
  • New Gilston Public School
    Log books, 1873-1915.
  • Largo School Board
    Minute Books 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
Largo Kirkton 150 110
Lundin Mill 178 92
Durham Female Charity 164 92
Largoward New Gilston 90 74


"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.