Description of the parish in 1862

Map showing the location of the parish

"Carnbee parish contains the villages of Arncroach, Carnbee and Newton of Balcormie. It is bounded by Cameron, Denino, Crail, Kilrenny, Anstruther wester, Pittenweem, St Monans and Kilconquhar. The parish is about 4 miles square. The northern part of the parish is moorland in character while the southern half is rich and fertile. The parish has excellent depsoits of limestone, freestone and coal, the latter being worked at Newton of Balcormie and Cassingray. The parish church is in Carnbee while there is a Free Church in Arncroach. With the exception of a few tradesmen, the inhabitants are chiefly employed in rural labours or at the collieries. " edited from Westwood's Directory for the counties of Fife & Kinross published 1862.

Towns and Villages


Places in Carnbee 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 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.


Carnbee Churchyard (grid ref. NO 531065, GPS: 56.293017, -2.972580 Google map):
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Lists of heads of households taken for the 1821 and 1831 censuses appear amongst the Old Parish Registers (413/4). They have been transcribed and published by the Fife Family History Society in their Publication 20.

Parish / district reference number for 1841 - 1901 censuses: 413

The 1841 return can be searched on the FreeCEN website.

The 1851 census has been indexed and published 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
Carnbee 1042700 1042253 103826 103988 203518 208749
(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 at Carnbee, there was also a Free Church in Arncroach.

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

The New Statistical Account (written in 1844) gives this information:

The 1865 Ecclesiastical Directory lists the parish church and the Free 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: 413

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

Carnbee OPR Births / baptisms Proclamations / marriages Deaths / burials / mortcloths
413/1 1646-1664 1646-1699 1677-1699
413/2 1662-1819 1726-1819 1782-1819
413/3   1705-1725 1706-1760
413/4 1820-1854 1820-1848 1820-1854
(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.  and M.  intermixed till 1654. Four leaves imperfect at 1650, and four at 1660.
B.  Blank Oct. 1654 - Jan. 1662, from which date there is a separate Record. Blank Oct. 1674 - Oct. 1692, Sept. 1698 - Jan. 1701, and Nov. 1704 - July 1705. Mothers' names not recorded till 1692.
M.  Contracts prior to 1654. Blank (exc. entries of indirect reference to M.) June 1654 - July 1669. Contracts and Marriages 1669 - 1684. Blank June 1684 - May 1687, from which date Contracts till 1699. Blank Oct. 1699 - July 1705, and May 1752 - Sept. 1761. No entries Dec. 1781 - Nov. 1783, from which date the M. again occur among the B. Entries more full after 1786.
D.  Mortcloth Dues intermixed with other matters till 1760. Blank 1699 - 1706, and 1760 - 1784. Burials 1784 - 1786, then blank till Dec. 1790, from which date Deaths.

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:

1040152 Items 2 - 3 Session book (includes Baptisms, 1646-1670, Marriage proclamations, 1646-1699, Mortcloth dues [burial records], 1672-1699); Baptisms, 1662-1674, 1693-1819; Marriages, 1726-1752, 1761-1819; Mortcloth dues, 1782-1792; Burials, 1790-1819.
1040153 Items 1 - 2 Session book (includes Marriage proclamations, 1705-1726, Mortcloth dues, 1706-1760); Baptisms, 1820-1855; Marriages, 1820-1848; Burials, 1820- 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 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 (413/1 and 413/3). Details of church records here.

Heritors' Records (HR82) are at the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh. Details of records here.

Other Churches :

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

Details of church records here.

The Carnbee 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
Carnbee 431 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 & Travel

Carnbee church Ordnance Survey Grid Reference GPS Post code Lat. 5614'56"N
NO 531065 56.248693
KY10 2RU Lon. 245'32"W

Surrounding parishes: Kilrenny, Crail, Dunino, Cameron, Kilconquhar, St Monans, Pittenweem, Anstruther Wester.

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Westwood's ParochialDirectory 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 Carnbee 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:

Names, Geographical

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

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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.


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. Details of records here.


Year Population
1755 1293
1801 1083
1851 1129
1901 910
1951 641

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 Carnbee 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
Carnbee Arncroach 99 45
Carnbee 111 67


"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.

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