Description of the parish in 1862

Map showing the location of the parish

"Burntisland parish lies across the River Forth from Granton. It is bounded by Aberdour and Kinghorn, and measures 2.5 miles from north to south by 2 miles from east to west. There is a quarry of excellent freestone and excellent limestone abounds. The ruins of the original parish church stand at Kirkton. There is a very extensive distillery at Grange. The Royal Burgh of Burntisland is a seaport and is the Fife terminus of the E P & D Railway from Granton. The town consists of 2 parallel streets with some lanes running between them. The High Street is broad and spacious. The harbour, reckoned the best on the Forth, is spacious and has a great depth of water. It also has a dry dock, and a lighthouse stands at its entrance. The harbour exports pig iron and coal. In addition to the parish church, there are an Episcopalian Church, a Free Church and a UP Church." edited from Westwood's Directory for the counties of Fife & Kinross published 1862.

Towns and Villages


Places in Burntisland 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

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


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.

History of Burntisland, Andrew Young, 1913, is online at the Internet Archive.

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


There are 3 cemeteries in Burntisland parish:

1. Kirkton Churchyard, Church Street, Burntisland (grid ref. NT 230865, GPS: 56.063932 -3.237804 Google map):

2. St Columba's Parish Churchyard, East Leven Street, Burntisland (grid ref. NT 235856, GPS: 56.05805 -3.232805 Google map):

3. Burntisland Cemetery, Kinghorn Road, Burntisland (grid ref. NT 245864, GPS: 56.064516 -3.21303 Google map):

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.


Parish / district reference number for 1841 - 1901 censuses: 411

Of the original 1841 returns, only those covering the Burgh survive. Those for the landward part of the parish, including Kirkton, are missing.

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

The 1851 census has been indexed and published 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
Burntisland 1042699 1042253 103825 103987 203517 208749
(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, there was a Free Church, an Episcopal Church and an Antiburgher Congregation (later United Presbyterian Church).

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

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

A census of Religious Worship and Education was taken in 1851 at the same time as the census of population. A table of statistics about the churches in Fife at this time is available here. The statistics for the separate burghs were also given. Those for Burntisland are as follows:

Burntisland (Parliamentary Burgh): Population of Parish 3158, Population of Burgh 2724:

Religious Denomination Number of Places of Worship Number of Sittings Number of Attendants at Public Worship on Sunday March 30 1851 (including Sunday Scholars)
Free Appropriated Total Morning Afternoon Evening
Established Church 1   755 755 310 324 264
United Presbyterian Church 1     598 396 430 200
Free Church 1 750   750 340 370  
Episcopal Church 1 123   123 40 83  
Total 4 873 755 2226 1086 1207 464

Source: Census of Great Britain, 1851, Religious worship and education. Scotland. Report and tables. British Parliamentary Papers 1854 LIX (1764).

The 1865 Ecclesiastical Directory lists the parish church, the Episcopal Church (St. Serf's), the United Presbyterian Church and the Free Church.

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

Details of church history:

The Burntisland Online website has a lot of information about Burntisland churches.

The original Parish church in Burntisland was first erected at the Kirkton in 1243, on land granted by King David. Prior to the reformation the church, which was dedicated to St Serf, belonged to the Abbey of Dunfermline. In 1592 a new and more substantial church was built in the town, and it was here in 1601, due to an outbreak of plague within Edinburgh, that the General Assembly met. In 1977, Burntisland Parish Church was united with the former United Free congregation of Burntisland St Andrew's. A link was formed with Auchtertool on the same date however this was later terminated in 1987. The kirk session sits within the Presbytery of Kirkcaldy.
Burntisland Free Church, Presbytery of Kirkcaldy, was established at the Disruption in 1843. Until a church was opened in 1846 the congregation worshipped outside or in a temporary accommodation.The congregation continued as a mission until 1854. In 1857 a school and teachers' house were built at East Wemyss. After the union in 1900 of the Free Church and the United Presbyterian Church, the congregation became Burntisland Couper United Free Church. In 1900 following the union of the United Free Church with the Church of Scotland, the church became Burntisland Church of Scotland. In 1930 the pro-union part of Erskine Church united with this charge and the name was changed to Burntisland St Andrews Church of Scotland. In 1969 the charge was linked with Auchtertool Church. In 1977 Burntisland St Andrew's united with Burntisland St Columba's as Burntisland Church of Scotland. The united charge was linked with Auchtertool until 1987.

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: 411

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

Burntisland OPR Births / baptisms Proclamations / marriages Deaths / burials / mortcloths
411/1 1672-1686 1653-1686  
411/2 1701-1777 1701-1777 1734-1743
411/3 1778-1819 1778-1819 1806-1818
411/4 1820-1854 1820-1854 1825-1848
Register of Neglected Entries 1853-1854    
(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.  blank July 1686 - May 1701. Prior to 1733, the entries are tabulated. Only five entries Dec. 1743 - Jan. 1747. Not very carefully kept 1782 - 1806.
M.  Contracts and Proclamations prior to 1686. Blank May 1686 - June 1701. Contracts and Marriages 1701 - 1762. Blank Dec. 1702 - July 1705. No entry Jan. 1743 - April 1744. Marriages after 1762, exc. a few entries of Contracts and Proclamations about 1770 - 1777.
D.  Deaths prior to 1743. Blank May 1743 - April 1806, after which date generally Deaths and Burials. Only nine entries 1806 - 1818 incl., then none till 1825; five entries 1825 - 1828 incl.; again blank till 1838, and very defective to end of Record in 1848.

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 Item 4 Baptisms, 1672-1686; Session book (includes Marriage proclamations), 1672-1680.
1040151 Items 1 - 4 Session book (includes Marriage proclamations), 1680-1686; Baptisms, 1701-1854; Marriages 1701-1854; Burials, 1734-1742, 1806-1818, 1825-1828, 1838-1852; Neglected entries (baptisms), 1853- 1854.
(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 Records of Scotland, Edinburgh. Some Kirk Session material is to be found in the OPR records (411/1).

The Presbytrie Book of Kirkcaldie, the record of the proceedings of the Presbytery of Kirkcaldy, from 15 April 1630 - 14 September 1653, is available through the web archive.

Heritors' Records (HR126) are at the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh.

At the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh:

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

At the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh:

Other Churches :

At the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh:

The Burntisland 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
Burntisland burgh 411/1 1855 1855
Burntisland landward 411/2 1855 1855
Burntisland 411 1856 1971
Burntisland 423 1972 1991
Kirkcaldy 421 1992 2002
Fife 421 2003  

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

Court Records

At the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh:

On the Records pages of the Fife Family History Society website there is an index to Burntisland Burgh Register of Deeds (1731-1874).

At the Fife Council Archive Centre, Kirkcaldy:

Description & Travel

Burntisland town centre Ordnance Survey Grid Reference GPS Post code Lat. 563'34"N
NT 232858 56.058860
KY3 9AH Lon. 314'3"W

Burntisland.Net is a very informative website with a lot of useful historical information.

Surrounding parishes: Kinghorn, Aberdour.

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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 Burntisland 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.

At the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh:


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.

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At the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh:

A list of Burntisland hammermen, 1648 - 1835, extracted from the records of the Burntisland Hammermen Craft Minute Book, held by the Special Collections Dept. of St Andrews University Library and Kirkcaldy Central Library, has been published by the Fife Family History Society in Publication 13 - Trade Incorporation Records and is also available on the Records pages of their website.

Also available on the Records pages of the Fife Family History Society website are transcriptions of Burntisland Wrights (1648-1835), Weavers (1685-1866), Tailors (1685-1835), Shoemakers (1685-1835), Fleshers (1685-1835) and Bakers (1685-1835).

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.

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. See Public Records below.

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


Year Population
1755 1390
1801 1530
1851 3158
1901 5599
1951 5883

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 Burntisland 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). From 1960, it has been conducted at Kirkcaldy (SC23) 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 Burntisland Burgh Register of Deeds.

Public Records

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

At the Fife Council Archive Centre, Kirkcaldy:


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

At the Fife Council Archive Centre, Kirkcaldy:

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
Burntisland Burntisland Public School 744 554
Burntisland Episcopal School 242 218
Binnend 233 143


"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.

At the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh:

See also the Early Taxation Records page.

Town Records

Towns were usually referred to as Burghs in Scotland.

The oldest burgh records are held by the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh. They include Protocol Books (from 1581), Sasines Registers (from 1681) and Registers of Deeds (from 1757). Court records include some 17th century harbour dues, a burgess roll, guildry records, council minutes (from 1672) and burgh charters.

The more recent archives of the former Burgh of Burntisland are held by Fife Council Archives. They include Council and Police Commissioners Minutes from 1835, Accounts from 1764, and cemetery records from 1885.

At the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh:

On the Records pages of the Fife Family History Society website there is an index to Burntisland Burgh Register of Deeds (1731-1874).

At the Fife Council Archive Centre, Kirkcaldy:

There is an itemised listing of the records held by the Fife Council Archives at Burntisland Online (click on 'Sources').

Voting Registers

There are Voters' Rolls at Ancestry.co.uk for Burntisland burgh for 1864 and 1894.

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