Cupar

Description of the parish in 1856

Map showing the location of the parish

"Cupar is bounded by the parishes of Dairsie, Kemback, Ceres, Cults, Monimail, Moonzie and Kilmany. It is 5 miles long and 5 miles wide at its widest point. The river Eden flows through the parish, about 2/3rds of the parish being on the north bank. There are 3 spinning mills, a foundry, a fulling mill, 2 tan works, 3 breweries, a rope work, a brick work and several corn, barley and flour mills. A principal employment is the weaving of coarse linens which employs upwards of 600 looms. There are stations on the Dundee fork of the Edinburgh & Northern Railway at Cupar and Springfield. The burgh of Cupar contains many new houses and presents the appearance of a thriving modern town." edited from  Wilson's Imperial Gazetteer of Scotland published 1856.

Towns and Villages

Cupar
Springfield

Places in Cupar 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

Cupar Library has a good collection of genealogy and local history materials.

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.

An excellent book is Cupar - The History of a Small Scottish Town by Paula Martin, 2006. ISBN 1 84158 410 X

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

Cemeteries

There are 3 cemeteries in Cupar parish:

1. Cupar Old Parish Churchyard, Kirk Wynd, Cupar (grid ref. NO 372142, GPS: 56.317455 -3.014511 Google map):

2. Cupar Extension - St James's Cemetery, Ashlar Lane, Cupar (grid ref. NO 373142, GPS: 56.317068 -3.014613 Google map):

3. Cupar Cemetery, Ceres Road, Cupar (grid ref. NO 378135, GPS: 56.311599 -3.007307 Google map):

4. Wemyss mausoleum, in the grounds of Hill of Tarvit House (formerly Wemyss Hall):

The pre-1855 monumental inscriptions are listed in Fifeshire Monumental Inscriptions (pre-1855) vol. 3 The north east parishes by John Fowler Mitchell & Sheila Mitchell, published by the Scottish Genealogy Society. ISBN 0901061999

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

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Census

The original 1841 census returns were lost in transit to Edinburgh.

Parish / district reference number for 1851 - 1901 censuses: 420

The 1851 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:

  1851 1861 1871 1881 1891
Cupar 1042254 103826 103988 203519 208751
(Data provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints)

Further information on the main Fife page.

Church History

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 Cupar are as follows:

Cupar (Parliamentary Burgh): Population of Parish 7127, Population of Burgh 5686:

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 3 359 1861 3300 1300 1450 70 [sic]
United Presbyterian Church 3 18 482 1100 700 826 68 [sic]
Free Church 1   1050 1050 850 950  
Episcopal Church 1 20 120 140 108    
Baptists 1 700   700 250 370  
Isolated Congregations 1 310   310 83 122  
Total 10 1407 3513 6600 3291 3718 750 [sic]
The number of sittings was not returned for 1 of the United Presbyterian Churches.
Returns are altogether wanting for 2 other churches: Established Church 1, United Presbyterian Church 1.

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, a second charge of the Established Church in Cupar and one in Springfield, the Roman Catholic Church, the Episcopal Church (St. James), the Baptist Church, 2 United Presbyterian Churches (Boston and Burnside) and the Free Church.

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

Details of church history:

The parish church of Cupar was dedicated to St Christopher and belonged, prior to the reformation, to the Priory of St Andrews. In 1415 a new parish church was erected by the Prior of St Andrews, which was partially pulled down in 1785 to make way for the present day building. A second charge was established for the parish of Cupar in 1625 and in 1938 the two charges were united together. Following this union the session became known as Cupar Old and St Michael of Tarvit and the church of the former second charge was later sold in 1951. The kirk session sat within the Presbytery of Cupar until the restructuring of the Presbyteries in 1976, when it became part of the Presbytery of St Andrews.

The session of Cupar St John's began at the Disruption of 1843 when the minister and a significant number of the congregation of Cupar Parish Church adhered to the Free Church. A church was erected for the new charge in 1844, which was later replaced in 1878. Following the union of the United Presbyterian Church and the Free Church of Scotland in 1900, Cupar Free Church was termed Cupar St John's United Free Church. Following the 1929 union of the United Free Church and the Church of Scotland, Cupar St John's U.F. became Cupar St John's Church of Scotland . The Kirk Session, which remains active today, sits within the Presbytery of St Andrews.

The congregation of Cupar Boston U.P. church, which sits within the Presbytery of Cupar, can be traced back to 1770 when an area of land was purchased at Westport in the burgh for the purpose of erecting a Relief Church (hence the original name of Cupar Westport). Laurence Bonnar, who became the first minister of the newly established congregation, was ordained at a date no later than 1772. A new church, built on the site of the old one, was opened in 1849, and was now called Boston Church, within the United Presbyterian Church. Following the union of the United Presbyterian Church and the Free Church of Scotland in 1900, Cupar Boston U.P. Church became Cupar Boston United Free Church but the congregation was dissolved in 1918.

Prior to 1793 the Antiburgher families of Cupar, having no local place of worship, formed part of the Ceres congregation. In that year however the death of the Rev. Thomas Bennet, minister of Ceres Antiburgher Church, prompted a number of Antiburghers resident in Cupar to apply to the Presbytery of Kirkcaldy for provision of a separate charge. A temporary place of worship was consequently opened at Cupar in 1794 and in 1796 a church at Burnside was taken possession of, in which the congregation remained until 1866 when the church of Bonnygate was opened, by which time the church was within the United Presbyterian Church. Following the union of the United Presbyterian Church and the Free Church of Scotland in 1900, Cupar U.P. became Cupar Bonnygate United Free Church and following the 1929 union of the Church of Scotland and the United Free Church, the congregation was termed Cupar Bonnygate Church of Scotland. In 1972 the congregation, which sat within the Presbytery of Cupar, was dissolved.

The Cupar Original Associate Burgher Synod congregation branched from that of Kennoway in 1816. It was, however, only in 1819 that the first minister, Ebenezer Anderson, was ordained. In 1839, the congregation and the minister united with the Church of Scotland. After the Disruption, some members of the congregation turned to the Original Secession Church, and sought from the Presbytery of Perth and Dunfermline a supply of preachers, but at the end of 1844 it was decided that the congregation could no longer be sustained and it was therefore dissolved.

The parish church of Springfield was opened for worship on the 27th July 1862 and the parish itself was disjoined from that of Cupar on the 19th July 1865. In 1975 Springfield formed a link with Monimail however in 1983 this arrangement was terminated in favour of a link with Ceres. The two linked charges of Springfield and Ceres later went on to unite in 1989, under the name of Ceres and Springfield. The kirk session sat within the Presbytery of Cupar until the restructuring of the Presbyteries in 1976, when it became part of the Presbytery of St Andrews.

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: 420

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

Cupar OPR Births / baptisms Proclamations / marriages Deaths / burials / mortcloths
420/1 1654-1715 1654-1716 1654-1716
420/2 1717-1777 1719-1777 1719-1777
420/3 1778-1819 1778-1819 1778-1819
420/4 1820-1854    
420/5   1820-1854 1820-1854
Register of Neglected Entries 1801-1850    
(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:

From 1654 - 1817, B. M. and D. occur in the same Register book:- B. on left hand pages; M. and D. on right hand pages.
B.  defective 1696 - 1701, and blank (exc. three entries) Feb. 1716 - Nov. 1718. Mothers' names seldom recorded in entries of B. 1688 - July 1769.
M.  blank Jan. 1697 - Nov. 1703, and Dec. 1715 - June 1719; defective 1738 - 1740.
D.  (Burials.) Blank March 1697 - Dec. 1702.
Separate Records of B. M. and D. after Jan. 1817.

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:

1040100 Items 4 - 5 Baptisms 1654-1739; Marriages 1654-1738; Burials 1654-1739.
1040101 Baptisms, Marriages, Burials, 1739-1854; Neglected entries (Baptisms), 1801-1850.
(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.

Heritors' Records (HR31) 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:

At the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh:

Other Churches :

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

The LDS have filmed some records which may be consulted at LDS Family History Centres.

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

At the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh:

The Cupar 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
Cupar burgh 420/1 1855 1856
Cupar landward 420/2 1855 1956
Cupar 420 1857 1971
Cupar 417 1972 2002
Fife 417 2003  

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

Court Records

Burgh Court Books (from 1699) are held by the Special Collections Dept. of St Andrews University Library.

On the Records pages of the Fife Family History Society website there is an index to Cupar Burgh Register of Deeds (1716-1862).

Cupar Sheriff Court records are held at the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh (SC20). They include Register of Extract Decrees (from 1658); Court Processes (from 1699); Sequestrations (from 1838); Small Debt Court (from 1825); Register of Deeds (from 1658); Registers of Protests (from 1800); Commissary Court records (from 1824); Criminal Court records (from 1821); Record of Services of Heirs (from 1652).

Content headings for Fife Sheriff Court at Cupar are on the Court Records page.

An Index to the Cupar Sheriff Court Aliment Decrees 1830-1854 and an Index to the Sheriff Court of Fife Deeds 1715-1809 are available on the Records pages of the Fife Family History Society's website. The Society has also published printed indexes of Cupar Sheriff Court Register of Inventories (1824-1892) (published as Wills 1824-1892 Registered with the Sheriff Court of Fife at Cupar), and Cupar Sheriff Court Register of Deeds (1809-1900)

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

At the Fife Council Archive Centre, Kirkcaldy:

Description & Travel

Cupar town centre Ordnance Survey Grid Reference GPS Post code Lat. 5619'3"N
NO 375145 56.318757
-3.012036
KY15 5AS Lon. 30'43"W

Surrounding parishes: Monimail, Cults, Ceres, Kemback, Dairsie, Kilmany, Moonzie.

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Directories

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.

Gazetteers

There is a list of places in Cupar 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

Sasines:

At the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh:

Valuation rolls::

At the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh:

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: Present-day maps:
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Medical Records

Hospital records (mostly of an administrative nature) are held by the Fife Council Archive Centre. The following hospitals are included: Adamson Hospital, Cupar 1865-1979; Stratheden Hospital, Cupar 1867-1970s. Only Stratheden Hospital has extensive patient records. Patient records are closed for 100 years.

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

The Ordnance Survey Object Name Books 1850-1854 are held at the Fife Council Archive Centre. There is an index to the entries for this parish on the Fife Council website (select  A in the A-Z list, then  Archives enquiries).

Obituaries

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 recently re-published it in their Publications Series, 27.

Occupations

A list of Cupar shoemakers, 1783 - 1846, extracted from the Shoemaker Trade Book of Cupar, held by Fife Council Archive Centre, has been published by the Fife Family History Society in Publication 13 - Trade Incorporation Records and is also on the Records pages of their website.

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 the Parochial Board and later by the Parish Council. Their records are at the Fife Council Archive Centre. See Public Records below.

Population

Year Population
1755 2192
1801 4463
1851 7427
1901 6768
1951 8085

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 Cupar 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, Cupar Sheriff Court and Cupar 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:

Schools

School Board Records and / or school logbooks are held at the Fife Council Archive Centre. Cupar 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
Cupar (Burgh) Castlehill 576 392
Kirkgate 414 271
Cupar (Landward) Brighton 67 29
Springfield Springfield 282 156
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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

At the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh:

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.

Town Records

Towns were usually referred to as Burghs in Scotland.

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

At the Fife Council Archive Centre, Kirkcaldy:

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