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

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

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 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

The Old Statistical Account (written in the 1790s) gives this list of inhabitants:

The New Statistical Account (written in 1844) at pages 896-901 gives a considerable amount of information about both Established and Dissenting churches in the parish.

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 Dunfermline are as follows:

Dunfermline (Parliamentary Burgh): Population of Parish 21687, Population of Burgh 13836:

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     2000 500 730  
United Presbyterian Church 5 134 2980 4714 2344 2730  
Free Church 3   2062 2062 1323 1358 160
Independents or Congregationalists 1 470 320 790 135 212  
Baptists 1 120   120 75 82  
New Church 1 80   80   13  
Evangelical Union 1       83 105  
Isolated Congregations 1     450     300
Roman Catholics 1       450    
Catholic and Apostolic Church 1       12 12  
Latter Day Saints or Mormons 1       50    
Total 17 804 5362 10216 4972 5242 460
The number of sittings was not returned for 4 of the above churches: Evangelical Union 1, Roman Catholics 1, Catholic and Apostolic Church 1, Latter Day Saints 1.
Returns are altogether wanting for 2 other Established Churches.

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, Established Churches of St Andrew's and Dunfermline North, 3 Free Churches - Free Abbey, Dunfermline North and St Andrew's, 4 United Presbyterian Churches in Dunfermline - Gillespie, Chalmers Street, Queen Ann Street and St Margarets, United Presbyterian Churches in Limekilns and Crossgates, the Roman Catholic Church, the Episcopal Church (Trinity), the Baptist Church, the Evangelical Union Church and the Congregationalist 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: 424

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

Dunfermline OPR Births / baptisms Proclamations / marriages Deaths / burials / mortcloths
424/1 1561-1611 1561-1611  
424/2 1612-1652 1612-1651  
424/3 1652-1715 1652-1715  
424/4 1715-1747 1715-1745  
424/5 1748-1755   1745-1755
424/6 1756-1775    
424/7 1776-1791    
424/8 1792-1806    
424/9 1807-1819    
424/10   1750-1819  
424/11     1617-1657
424/12 1820-1825    
424/13 1825-1834    
424/14 1834-1854    
424/15 1820-1854    
424/16   1820-1842  
424/17   1842-1854  
424/18     1825-1854
424/19 Index 1834-1854    
(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.  recorded on parallel cols. 1561 - 1745. Both Records blank Feb. 1591 - July 1598. Imperfect leaf at 1650. Blank (exc. a few entries of B.) June 1701 - March 1703. Two separate Records Oct. 1687 - Dec. 1714. Two leaves imperfect at Dec. 1747. After 1772 a large number of entries occur in the margin of the Register. Early Record beautifully kept.
M.  blank Aug. 1745 - May 1750, from which latter date there is a separate Record of Proclamations and Marriages.
D.  Blank March 1657 - Jan. 1745, and June 1755 - 1825.
[Vol. 424/9 contains an index to B. 1816 - 1825. Vol. 424/19 is an index to B. 1834 - 1854 (in vol. 424/14). Vol. 424/15 also contains an index to B. 1820 - 1854.]

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:

1040126 Items 4 - 5 Baptisms, Marriages, 1561-1652
1040102 Baptisms, 1652-1714, 1687-1756; Marriages, 1652- 1710, 1687-1745; Burials, 1745.
1040103 Burials, 1745-1755; Marriages, (1 page) 1791; Baptisms, 1756-1797.
1040104 Baptisms, 1797-1819; Marriages, 1750-1814.
1040105 Marriages, 1814-1819; Burials, 1617-1643, 1653-1657; Baptisms and Index of fathers (incomplete), 1819-1849.
1040106 Baptisms, 1836-1854; Baptisms (transcript,) 1821-1847; Marriages, 1820-1848.
1040107 Items 1 - 3 Marriages, 1848-1854; Burials, 1825-1854; Neglected entries (baptisms), 1833-1854; Index (baptisms), 1834-1854.
(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.

The following records are also held by the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh but not online. They are not included on the OPR microfilms but have been filmed as part of the Minor Records series:

Dunfermline MR45/1 Deaths 1790-1832
Dunfermline MR45/2 Index to Deaths1790-1832
The following are held by the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh but they have been transcribed and published. See Cemeteries above.

Dunfermline Abbey
1761-1857; 1866-1867
Further information on the main Fife page.

Kirk Session records for Dunfermline Abbey (CH2/592) are at the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh. Details of records here.

Lists of Male Heads of Families, circa 1834, gathered as a result of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland's 1834 Veto Act have been transcribed for some parishes by Old Scottish Genealogy and Family History.

Heritors' Records (HR159) are at the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh. Details of records here.

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

LDS Library Film Numbers:

1068237 Item 1 Dunfermline Parish Church Blotter registers: Burials, 1790-1800, 1815-1833 MR45/1-2 National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh
(Data provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints)
Other Churches :

Most records of other churches are held by the National Records of Scotland or the General Register of Scotland in Edinburgh. Some records are still retained in the churches.

Some of the pre-1855 baptism and marriage registers have been transcribed and published.

Details of church records, transcriptions and indexes here.

The Dunfermline 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
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

Records of the Convener's Court and the burgh police court are held at the Local History Department, Dunfermline Carnegie Library.

Records of the Regality Court of Dunfermline (from 1531), the Burgh Court, the Dean of Guild Court and the Nine Merk Court are held at the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh.

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.

On the Records pages of the Fife Family History Society website there is an index to Dunfermline Burgh Register of Deeds (1700-1884).

Records of Dunfermline Sheriff Court are held at the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh (SC21). They include Ordinary Court Minute Books; Register of Decrees; Register of Sequestrations; Small Debt Court, Criminal Court and Commissary Court records.

The aliment decrees (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.

Details of court records here.

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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

Valuation Rolls and Burgh Registers of Sasines are held by the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh. Details of records here.

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.

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). Details of records here.

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.

Politics and Government Records

Records of Dunfermline District Council (1929 - 1975) are held by the Fife Council Archives. Details of records here.

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. Details of records here.

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

There are some records of the Dunfermline Combination Poorhouse at Fife Council Archives. Details of records here.


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.


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
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

Some early tax returns are held by the National Records of Scotland. Details of records here.

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

Town Records

Towns were usually referred to as Burghs in Scotland.

The older archives of the former Burgh of Dunfermline are held at the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh.

On the Records pages of the Fife Family History Society website there is an index to Dunfermline Burgh Register of Deeds (1700-1884).

The more recent archives of the former Burgh of Dunfermline are held by the Local History Department, Dunfermline Carnegie Library.

Some records are held by the Fife Council Archives.

Details of records here.

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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