Beath

Description of the parish in 1857

Map showing the location of the parish

"Beath parish is 4 miles long by 3 miles broad. It is bounded on the north by Cleish, on the east by Ballingry, on the south & west by Auchtertool, Dalgetty & Dunfermline. Its area is 6800 acres, of which 5270 are under cultivation, 516 are under pasture and 530 are wooded. The Hill of Beath commands an extensive and fine view. To the north west is Loch Fitty, about 3 miles in circumference, which containes pike and perch. The bridges in the parish are all in good repair. The average rent of land is £1 per acre. The farms produce oats, barley, a little wheat, pease, beans, potatoes, turnips and meadow hay. There are 3 collieries, although only one, at Kelty, is wrought at present. There is a parish church, and a Free Church at Kelty. There is only 1 school in the parish, with 26 on the roll in 1849. There are 4 public houses and 1 inn. The nearest market towns are Dunfermline and Kinross, each nearly 6 miles distant. The Great North Road from Queensferry to Kinross and Perth intersects the parish from south-west to north-east. There are 2 small villages: Kelty and Oakfield. " from A Descriptive & historic gazeteer of the counties of Fife, Kinross & Clackmannan by M Barbieri, published 1857.

Towns and Villages

Cowdenbeath
Hill of Beath
Kelty

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


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

Archives, Libraries and Museums

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

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

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.

There is a chapter about Beath in Mercer's History of Dunfermline, published 1828, is at Google Books.

Old Cowdenbeath and Old Kelty (Stenlake Publishing) contain many photographs and full descriptions.

Cemeteries

Beath Cemetery / Churchyard, Old Perth Road, Cowdenbeath (grid ref. NT 152922, GPS: 56.114993 -3.365320):

Census

Parish / district reference number for 1841 - 1901 censuses: 410

The 1841 return 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
Beath 1042699 1042253 103825 103987 203517 208748
Data provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

Further information on the main Fife page.

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Church History

In addition to the parish church at Beath, other churches included Free Churches at Cowdenbeath, Kelty and Lassodie, United Presbyterian Churches at Cowdenbeath and Kelty, and a Church of Scotland at Kelty.

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

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

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

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 General Register Office for Scotland in Edinburgh, and they can all be consulted there at the ScotlandsPeople Centre. 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: 410

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

Beath OPR Births / baptisms Proclamations / marriages Deaths / burials / mortcloths
410/1 1643-1819 1643-1819 1802-1819
410/2 1820-1854 1820-1854 1820-1852
Data supplied by General Register Office for 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.  blank April 1649 - Feb. 1676, May 1683 - Jan. 1686, and Aug. 1714 - Feb. 1718.
M.  Prior to 1649, entries among B. for same period. Blank May 1649 - Nov. 1673, from which date to 1678, only entries of Contracts. Blank Oct. 1678 - May 1692, June 1714 - Jan. 1720, and Aug. 1794 - Jan. 1796. No entry for 1805 nor 1815. After 1775, entries of Clandestine Marriages (chiefly celebrated at Edinburgh) not unfrequent.
D.  (Burials.)

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:

1040150 Items 2 - 3 Session book (includes Baptisms and Marriage proclamations) 1643-1649; Baptisms 1676-1854; Session book (includes Marriage proclamations) 1673-1678; Marriages 1692-1861; Burials 1802-1852.
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 National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh. Some Kirk Session material is to be found in the OPR records (410/1). Details of church records here.

Heritors' Records (HR56) are at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh. Details of records here.

Other Churches :

Records of other churches are held by the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh.

Details of church records here.

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

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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
Beath 410 1855 1910
Cowdenbeath 410/1 1911 1971
Cowdenbeath 430 1972 2002
Fife 430 2003  
Kelty 410/2 1911 1971
Kelty 428 1972 2002
Fife 428 2003  

Registration districts did not necessarily coincide exactly with parishes. In the 20th century especially, there were frequent changes in registration districts.

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Description & Travel

Cowdenbeath town centre Ordnance Survey Grid Reference GPS Post code Lat. 566'46"N
NT 165919 56.112528
-3.344327
KY4 9QE Lon. 320'40"W

Surrounding parishes: Cleish (Kinross-shire), Ballingry, Auchterderran, Auchtertool, Aberdour, Dunfermline.

Directories

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 Beath 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 & 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.

Maps

Historic maps:

This British Library webpage uses small examples of historical maps of London to show the differences between maps at various scales.

Present-day maps:
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Names, Geographical

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

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.

Occupations

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.

The Scottish Mining website has extensive information about mining in Fife in general and in this parish in particular.

Poorhouses, 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. Details of records here.

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

Population

Year Population
1755 1099
1801 613
1851 1252
1901 15812
1951 22641

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

Prior to 1824, wills, testaments & inventories of residents of Beath 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 and Cupar Sheriff Court.

Schools

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
Beath Cowdenbeath 973 858
Kelty 349 326
Lassodie 277 170

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

The hearth tax, clock & watch tax, male servants tax, female servants tax, and farm horse tax are all on ScotlandsPlaces.

Town Records

The archives of the former Burgh of Cowdenbeath are held by the Local History Department, Dunfermline Carnegie Library and the Fife Archive Centre. Details of records here.

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