Description of the parish in 1852

Map showing the location of the parish

"Dunfermline is a royal burgh, the most important town in the scale of manufactures in the county. From its elevated position it commands a prospect over 14 different counties. A branch of the Edinburgh Perth & Dundee Railway comes to the town; a branch to Charlestown is used principally in the conveyance of coal for shipment at that port. The town consists of one principal street stretching from east to west, with a number of smaller streets crossing at right angles. Within the last 35 years its size has been greatly increased, not only by the extension of the cross streets but by the addition of a large suburb to the west; and during the last 7 years the improvements effected have been considerable. The streets are gas-lighted and the town is abundantly supplied with excellent water conveyed through pipes from the springs on the high ground to the north of the town. The prosperity of the burgh is due to its manufacture of table linens - the cloth is woven to a greater extent than in any other town in Great Britain. Other trades include iron and brass founding, iron forging, brewing, soap boiling, dyeing and the manufacture of tobacco. The coal trade is very extensive and limestone is wrought extensively. In addition to the parish church, there is also a secession church (now the United Presbyterian church). Markets are held on Tuesday and Friday. " edited from Slater's Directory published 1852.

Towns and Villages

Charlestown Limekilns
Crossford Milesmark
Crossgates North Queensferry (until 1891) - see under Inverkeithing
Dunfermline Townhill
Halbeath Wellwood

Places in Dunfermline 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

Dunfermline Carnegie Library has a large collection of genealogy and local history materials, as well as the more recent archives of the former burghs of the Dunfermline district. It also has an excellent collection of old newspapers.

The Dunfermline Heritage Community Projects website has information about the town, its past, and the Friends of Dunfermline City Archives group.

The Andrew Carnegie Birthplace Museum has excellent displays about the town's famous benefactor.

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

The National Collection of Aerial Photography website has photographs of Dunfermline taken in the 1940s.

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Fernie's History of the town and parish of Dunfermline, published 1815, is at Google Books.

Mercer's History of Dunfermline, published 1828, is at Google Books.

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.

Chalmers' Historical and Statistical Account of Dunfermline, published 1844, is also at Google Books, as is vol. 2, published in 1859.

The Annals of Dunfermline by Ebenezer Henderson, published 1878, is also online.

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

Many publications about the history of Dunfermline can be obtained from the Fife Family History Society.


There are 3 cemeteries and a crematorium in Dunfermline parish:

1. Dunfermline Abbey, St Margaret Street, Dunfermline (grid ref. NT 089873; GPS: 56.06988 -3.462805 Google map):

2. Dunfermline Cemetery, Leys Park Road, off Halbeath Road, Dunfermline (grid ref. NT 105881; GPS: 56.077071 -3.439585 Google map):

3. Douglas Bank Cemetery, Pattiesmuir, by Rosyth (grid ref. NT 091838; GPS: 56.038864 -3.459396 Google map):

4. Dunfermline Crematorium, Masterton Road, Dunfermline (grid ref. NT 119855; GPS: 56.054432 -3.414115 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: 424. Some parts in 432 from 1861 until 1891 (see Civil Registration). The ScotlandsPeople website has a street index to the 1911 census.

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

The 1851 census has been indexed by the Tay Valley Family History Society.

Two pages are missing from some films of the 1851 census. Consequently, some websites will also be missing these pages. The pages are transcribed here. The adresses are 8 and 9 Damside Street; surnames: Moyes, Lawrence, Whitehill, Watson, Christie, Paton, Cunning, Young, Downie, Anderson, Stark.

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
Dunfermline 1042700, 1042701 1042265, 1042266 103827 103989,
index to streets on 104117
203520, 203521,
index to streets on 203392
208752, 208753, 208754,
index to streets on 208606
(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

Dunfermline - Church History - links and information

Church Records

Dunfermline - Church Records - links and information

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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
Dunfermline burgh 424/1 1855 1877
Dunfermline landward 424/2 1855 1877
Dunfermline 424 1878 1971
Dunfermline 432 1972 2002
Fife 432 2003  

Registration districts did not necessarily coincide exactly with parishes. In the 20th century especially, there were frequent changes in registration districts. Parts of Inverkeithing parish were included in Dunfermline registration district, and parts of Dunfermline parish were included in Inverkeithing registration district, until 1891.

Court Records

The Guild Court Book of Dunfermline 1433-1597, edited by Elizabeth PD Torrie, is published by the Scottish Record Society and can be purchased from the Tay Valley Family History Society.

Content headings for Dunfermline Sheriff Court are on the Court Records page.

The aliment decrees from Dunfermline Sheriff Court (1830-1854) have been extracted from the Register of Decrees and indexed by the Fife Family History Society Journal, vol.8 no.3, April 1996. They are also available on the Records pages of the Fife Family History Society's website.

At the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh:

At the Local History Department, Dunfermline Carnegie Library:

Description and Travel

Dunfermline town centre Ordnance Survey Grid Reference GPS Post code Lat. 564'14"N
NT 091874 56.070758
KY12 7NW Lon. 327'44"W

There is a comprehensive collection of links to Dunfermline information at the Annals of Dunfermline Links Page.

There is an informative Dunfermline website.

Surrounding parishes: Inverkeithing, Dalgety, Aberdour, Beath, Saline, Carnock, Torryburn, Cleish (in Kinross-shire); and, before 1891: Fossoway (in Kinross-shire) and, by ferry and later bridges across the River Forth, Queensferry (in West Lothian [Linlithgowshire as it was then]).


The parish entry in Pigot's National Commercial Directory for the whole of Scotland, 1837, is online at Google Books (see also Limekilns and Charlestown on p. 407).

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 Dunfermline 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

Prior to 1891, Inverkeithing parish had a detached portion entirely surrounded by Dunfermline parish. The village of North Queensferry, on the other hand, was part of Dunfermline parish.

On 15th May 1891, the following subjects were transferred from the parish of Inverkeithing to the parish of Dunfermline: Brucehaven, Milesmark, Whitemyre Foundry, Blackburn, Logie, Urquhart, North Urquhart, Lady's Park and some properties in Dunfermline Burgh.

On the same date, the following subjects were transferred from Dunfermline parish to Inverkeithing parish: Carlingnose, Ferryhills, North Cliff, Fernbank House, Ferrybarns, Rockville, St Margaret's, and the whole village of North Queensferry.

Also on the same date, a part of Dunfermline parish north of the south march of Moreland (comprising Moreland House & Moreland Hill lands) was transferred from the parish of Dunfermline to the parish of Cleish in the county of Kinross. This formalised an arrangement by which the area had been treated as being part of the county of Kinross for some time.

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

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Land & property

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.


Historic maps: Present-day maps:

Medical Records

Hospital records (mostly of an administrative nature) are held by the Fife Council Archive Centre. The following hospitals are included: Dunfermline and West Fife Hospital (originally Dunfermline Cottage Hospital) 1891-1948; Dunfermline Combined Poorhouse and Hospital 1859-1867. Patient records are closed for 100 years.
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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.


There is an extensive collection at Dunfermline Carnegie Library.

The British Newspaper Archive, also available available on findmypast.co.uk, has:


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, 27 and 28 (for Limekilns and North Queensferry).


A list of Dunfermline Hammermen, 1585 - 1862, extracted from the Minute Books of the Dunfermline Hammermen Incorporation, held by Dunfermline Museum, has been published by the Fife Family History Society in Publication 13 - Trade Incorporation Records.

Records of Dunfermline City Police Officers are held at the Fife Council Archive Centre.

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.

At the National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh:

A list of Dunfermline Wrights, 1677 - 1763, extracted from the Incorporation of Wrights of Dunfermline Minute Book, held by the National Library of Scotland, has been published by the Fife Family History Society in Publication 14 - Trade Incorporation Records. It is also available on the Records pages of their website, along with a similar listing of Dunfermline Weavers (1596-1863).

Politics and Government Records

Dunfermline District Council

The Local Government (Scotland) Act 1929 (19 & 20 Geo. V, c.25) required county councils to draw up a scheme of district councils, to be composed partly of directly elected district councillors and partly of the county councillors from electoral divisions within the district. District councils had various responsibilities delegated to them by the county council under a scheme of delegation. These might include the letting of houses, the upkeep of cemeteries and until 1948 the poor law. District councils also administered special districts or committees responsible for certain functions such as scavenging or water supply, financed by additional rates. District councils were abolished in 1975 by the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973 (c.65).

At the FifeCouncil Archive Centre, Markinch:

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 Local History Department, Dunfermline Carnegie Library. See Public Records below.

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

At the Fife Council Archive Centre, Kirkcaldy:


Year Population
1755 8552
1801 9980
1851 21687
1901 31697  * boundary changed
1951 50831

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 Dunfermline 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, Cupar Sheriff Court, and the Dunfermline Burgh Register of Deeds which is indexed (1700-1884) on the Records pages of the Fife Family History Society website.

Public Records

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

At the Local History Department, Dunfermline Carnegie Library:


School Board records and / or school logbooks are held at the Fife Council Archive Centre. Dunfermline 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
Dunfermline (Burgh) Commercial 725 695
High Primary 209 99
McLean 400 322
Milesmark 400 313
Pittencrieff 550 474
Queen Anne 467 303
St Leonard's 492 371
Wilson's Institution 114 118
St Margaret's 151 69
Dunfermline (Landward) Charlestown 215 127
Crossford 103 81
Crossgates 213 218
Dunduff 64 41
Halbeath 400 298
Limekilns 201 128
Townhill 400 325
Wellwood 200 152


"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 Records

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 National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh:

At the Local History Department, Dunfermline Carnegie Library:

At the Fife Council Archive Centre, Kirkcaldy:

Gordon Johnson has published a new index to Extracts from the Burgh records of Dunfermline in 16th and 17th centuries (published 1951).

Voting Registers

There are Voters' Rolls at Ancestry.co.uk for Dunfermline burgh for 1859, 1864 and 1871.

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