Anstruther Easter

Description of the parish in 1852

Map showing the location of the parish

"Anstruther Easter, a royal burgh, in the county of Fife, is 22 miles east from Kirkcaldy and about 10 south from St Andrews. It has an excellent harbour which is the chief asylum for vessels overtaken by storms in the Firth of Forth. It was a place of great importance before the union with England, carrying on an extensive trade with Holland and France; and, from its contiguity to Cellardyke, it is still one of the first fishing stations in Scotland. The trade is principally of a domestic nature; baking, brewing, tanning and fish-curing are the most prominent branches; but there is likewise a considerable proportion of business done in the export of grain, potatoes, etc: a number of coasters and several square-rigged vessels belong to the port; and a steam packet plies 3 times a week between it and Leith, conveying hence grain, fish, etc, and returning with merchants' goods. It is the station of a custom house whose district extends from Edenmouth to Largo Bay. Branches respectively of the 'National Bank of Scotland' and the 'Eastern Bank of Scotland' are settled here. The town is governed by 3 baillies, a treasurer and 15 councillors elected under the Scotch Borough Reform Act. This burgh is united with St Andrew's, Cupar, Crail, Kilrenny, Anstruther Wester and Pittenweem in returning one member to parliament. It is worthy of note that Dr Chalmers, the celebrated orator and divine, and professor Tennant, author of 'Anster Fair', were natives of this town." from Slater's Directory published 1852.

Towns and Villages

Anstruther Easter parish consists of the Burgh of Anstruther Easter (that part of Anstruther east of the Dreel Burn). Anstruther Wester parish consists of the Burgh of Anstruther Wester (that part of Anstruther west of the Dreel Burn) together with the landward area to the north-west of the burgh.

Places in Anstruther Easter parish, with links to online historical and modern maps.

Please read the main Fife pages if you have not already done so.

Archives and Libraries

A separate Records Page page gives details of the records for this parish held by Scottish archives.

The Murray Library, Anstruther holds copies of the East Fife Observer newspaper from 1914-1967.

Anstruther is also the home of the Scottish Fisheries Museum which has both static and floating displays telling the history of this industry and its traditions.

The ScotlandsPlaces website lets users search across national databases by geographical location. It includes, amongst other material,

Return to top of page


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 Anstruther (Stenlake Publishing) contains many photographs and full descriptions.


Anstruther Easter Churchyard, School Green, Anstruther (grid ref. NO 566037, GPS: 56.223728 -2.700322 Google map):

Return to top of page


Parish / district reference number for 1841 - 1901 censuses: 402. See also Civil Registration.

The 1841 and 1851 returns can be searched on theFreeCEN 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
Anstruther Easter 1042699 1042252 103825 103986 203516 208746
(Data provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints)

Further information on the main Fife page.

Church History

In addition to the parish church other churches included an Associate Burgher Church, a United Presbyterian Church and a Free Church.

The Old Statistical Account (written in the 1790s) does not mention any dissenters from the Established Church.

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

The 1865 Ecclesiastical Directory lists the parish churches of Anstruther Wester and Easter, the Free Church, the United Presbyterian Church, the Evangelical Union Church and the Baptist Church.

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

Details of church history here.

Church Records

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: 402

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

Anstruther Easter OPR Births / baptisms Proclamations / marriages Deaths / burials / mortcloths
402/1 1641-1699 1641-1697  
402/2 1699-1796 1699-1795 1746-1798
402/3 1796-1819 1796-1819  
402/4 1820-1854 1820-1854 1833-1846
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 May 1643. Separate Records of B. June 1643 - Dec. 1649. Blank Dec. 1649 - Jan. 1657, after which B. and M. are again intermixed till 1670. Blank June 1670 - July 1672. Separate Record of B. from July 1672. Only six entries July 1681 - Aug. 1684. Entries 1736 - 1773 tabulated. Exc. June 1643 - Dec. 1649, Mothers' names not recorded in B. till Jan. 1670, and sometimes omitted after that date.
M.  blank March 1654 - Jan. 1657, May 1670 - April 1678, March 1681 - Oct. 1684, and July 1690 - Nov. 1691. One entry May 1696 - Oct. 1698. Blank Dec. 1718 - July 1720, Jan. 1724 - Oct. 1725, and Aug. 1795 - Oct. 1796. No entry 1810. Duplicate of Record 1796 - 1824. After 1773, fact of Marriage rarely added to the entry of Contract or Proclamation.
D.  Deaths and Burials till June 1779, then Deaths only. Blank (exc. one entry for 1829) Sept. 1798 - 1833.

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:

1040145 Baptisms, 1641-1854; Marriages, 1678-1827, 1796-1854, 1844-1847; Burials, 1746-1798, 1833-1854; Neglected entries.
(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.

Lists of Male Heads of Families, circa 1834, gathered as a result of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland's 1834 Veto Act have been transcribed for some parishes by Old Scottish Genealogy and Family History.

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 (402/1). Details of church records here.

Heritors' Records - none known.

Other Churches :

Records for other churches are held at the Special Collections Dept. of St Andrews University Library.

Some of the pre-1855 baptism and marriage registers have been transcribed and published.

Details of church records, transcriptions and indexes here.

The Anstruther Easter page of the LDS Family Search Research Wiki has more information about church history and records.

Return to top of page

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
Anstruther Easter 402 1855 1930
Anstruther and Kilrenny 402 1931 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. Anstruther Easter registration district includes part of Kilrenny parish.

Court Records

Admiralty Court records and Burgh Court records are held at the Special Collections Dept. of St Andrews University Library. Details of records here.

Description & Travel

Anstruther Easter town centre Ordnance Survey Grid Reference GPS Post code Lat. 5613'21"N
NO 567036 56.222983
KY10 3HF Lon. 241'56"W

There is a useful Anstruther website here.

Surrounding parishes: Kilrenny, Anstruther Wester.

Return to top of page


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 Anstruther Easter 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.

Historical Geography

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

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:

Military History

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

Names, Geographical

There is an index to the Ordnance Survey Object Name Books for this parish 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, 26.

Return to top of page


Directory of Seafarers - the East Neuk of Fife1580-1800 and The Shipping of Anstruther and the East Neuk of Fife by David Dobson can be obtained from the Tay Valley Family History Society.

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.

Poorhouses, 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. Details of records here.

Return to top of page


Year Population
1755 1100
1801 969
1851 1161
1901 1024
1951 509

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 Anstruther Easter 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.


School Board records and / or school logbooks are held at the Fife Council Archive Centre. Details of records here.

Education statistics for Fife schools in 1891-2 list the following board schools in the parish:

School Board School Accommodation for scholars Average attendance
Anstruther Easter East 228 127
West 104 89


"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.

Town Records

Towns were usually referred to as Burghs in Scotland.

Under the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1929 (19 &20 Geo. V, c.25) , the Fife royal burghs of Anstruther Easter and Anstruther Wester and the burgh of Kilrenny were amalgamated to create the United Burghs of Kilrenny, Anstruther Easter and Anstruther Wester. The Kilrenny, Anstruther Easter and Anstruther Wester Town Council was abolished in 1975.

The archives of the former Burghs of Anstruther Easter & Wester are held at the Special Collections Dept. of St Andrews University Library, Fife Council Archives and the National Records of Scotland. They include the Admiralty Court Book for East Fife, Minute Books of the Anstruther Sea Box Society, Court Books and Council Minutes. Details of records here.

Return to top of page