Description of the parish in 1857

Map showing the location of the parish

"Dysart parish, on the Firth of Forth, is 4 miles in length from north - south and 2 miles in breadth. It is bounded by Kinglassie, Markinch, Wemyss, Auchterderran and Kirkcaldy. Much waste land has been reclaimed in the past 60 years by draining, embanking and fencing. The main crops are wheat, barley, oats, potatoes, hay and turnip. The Fife breed of cattle are reared, as well as horses, but few sheep. Coals are abundant and cheap; although they are slow to kindle and leave much ash, they produce a strong heat. There are also some limestone and ironstone quarries. A ton of ironstone produces nearly 12 cwt. of iron. Dysart was a very prosperous port before the Union [1707], but all its prosperity has since left it. Linen manufacture remained, with 2088 looms in 1836. There is also now a flax spinning mill, a pottery, a rope-works and other useful trades. Besides the church in Dysart, there is a chapel of ease in Pathhead, a Free Church and a UP Church. Besides the parish school there are 14 other schools in the parish. Although there are nearly 150 public houses, sobriety, industry and morality are as fully conspicuous here as anywhere else. Low wages no doubt accounts for the sobriety. Besides the burgh of Dysart, there are also the villages of Pathhead, Sinclairton and Gallowtown and the hamlets of Hackleymoor and the Borland." from 'A Descriptive & historic gazeteer of the counties of Fife, Kinross & Clackmannan', M Barbieri, published 1857.

Towns and Villages

Gallatown, Pathhead & Sinclairtown (now included in Kirkcaldy)

Places in Dysart 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 John McDouall Stuart Museum at 1 Rectory Lane, Dysart, is housed in the birthplace of this legendary explorer of Australia.

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

Return to top of page


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.

Old Dysart and East Kirkcaldy (Stenlake Publishing) contains many photographs and full descriptions.


There are 6 cemeteries in Dysart parish. There are others in Kirkcaldy, in Kirkcaldy and Abbotshall parishes.

1. St. Serf's Churchyard, Shore Road, Dysart (grid ref. NT 303929; GPS 56.125312, -3.124823 Google map): 2. Dysart St Denis Churchyard (also known as the Relief Burial Ground), West Quality Street, Dysart (grid ref. NT 302932; GPS 56.125312, -3.124823 Google map): 3. Barony Churchyard, Windmill Road, Dysart (grid ref. NT 302934; GPS 56.127139, -3.124828 Google map): 4. Sinclairtown Burial Ground, Nether Street, Kirkcaldy (grid ref. NT 290926; GPS 56.120561, -3.142976 Google map): 5. Pathhead Churchyard & Pathhead Feuars Burial Ground, Pathhead Court [previously Commercial Street], Kirkcaldy (grid ref. NT 289927; GPS 56.119912, -3.149504 Google map): 6. Dysart Cemetery, The Fairway / Windmill Road / Loughbrough Road, Kirkcaldy (grid ref. NT 300935; GPS 56.127914, -3.12751 Google map):

Ref: "Fifeshire Monumental Inscriptions (pre-1855) vol. 1 South east parishes" by John Fowler Mitchell & Sheila Mitchell, published by the Scottish Genealogy Society. ISBN 0901061948

Kirkcaldy Central Library has a large collection of transcripts, indexes and manuscript volumes of Kirkcaldy burials.

A selection of  interesting inscriptions and photographs are included in the booklet Guide to Kirkcaldy Graveyards, published by Kirkcaldy Civic Society, 1996 (ISBN 1946294038).

Return to top of page


Parish / district reference number for 1841 - 1901 censuses: 426. 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.

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
Dysart 1042701 1042266, 1042267 103828,
index to streets on 104116
103990 203522,
index to streets on 203392
index to streets on 208606
(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, other churches include a chapel of ease at Pathhead, a relief church (later United Presbyterian) and a Free Church in the parish.

For more details of other churches in Dysart, Kirkcaldy, Gallatown, Pathhead and Sinclairtown, see the Kirkcaldy page.  An authoritative book is Kirkcaldy's Churches, 1999, Kirkcaldy Civic Society, ISBN 0946294178, available from Fife Family History Society.

The Old Statistical Account (written in the 1790s) has this to say about the religious views of the inhabitants:

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 Dysart are as follows:

Dysart (Parliamentary Burgh): Population of Parish 8739, Population of Burgh 8041:

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 2 200 770 2770 1088 1140  
Original Secession Church 1 550 250 800 362 330  
United Presbyterian Church 1     420 285 336  
Free Church 2 450   1250 759 955  
Latter Day Saints or Mormons 1 81   81 84    
Total 7 1281 1020 5321 2578 2761 0
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 and the United Presbyterian Church in Dysart (but others are listed under Kirkcaldy).

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

Details of church history:

There is more information about some churches on the Kirkcaldy and Abbotshall pages.

The brief historical notes below were provided by the Scottish Archive Network (SCAN).

The parish of Dysart was a prebend of the Collegiate church of St Mary on the Kirk Heugh at St Andrews. Ministry of the parish is recorded from 1560. A second charge for the parish of Dysart was erected in 1607 and a new parish church built in 1802. Following the union of the Church of Scotland and the United Free church in 1929, the Free Church session of Dysart St Serf's and the parish church congregation, now named Dysart Barony, were united together in 1972. The united session was known as Dysart. Dysart sat within the Presbytery of Kirkcaldy.
Dysart Free Church was formed at the Dissolution, when the minister and a large part of the congregation adhered to the Free Church. A church erected in 1844 was replaced in the 1870s. It passed successively to the United Free Church, as Dysart St Serf's, and to the Church of Scotland. The Church of Scotland charge united with Dysart Barony as Dysart in 1972. It was in the presbytery of Kirkcaldy and the synod of Fife.

Church Records

Data provided by the  Scottish Archive Network (SCAN)

Only the Dysart Parish Church, the Dysart Relief Congregation (later United Presbyterian, then United Free), the Dysart Free Church, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Dysart Branch are considered here. All other churches are listed on the Kirkcaldy page.

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: 426

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

Dysart OPR Births / baptisms Proclamations / marriages Deaths / burials / mortcloths
426/1 1582-1662 1582-1662 1582-1596
426/2 1609-1662 1612-1629 1721-1821
426/3 1662-1734 1662-1734  
426/4 1735-1819    
426/5   1735-1819  
426/6 1820-1854 1849-1850 (3 entries)  
426/7   1820-1854  
426/8     1756-1863
426/9     1818-1838
426/10     1838-1854
426/11     1825-1854
Register of Neglected Entries 1844-1853    
(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 May 1596 - Nov. 1609, April 1610 - Nov. 1611; defective 1623. Many leaves before 1662 considerably wasted, and many entries imperfect. Blank Oct. 1679 - Dec. 1682, and (exc. 11 irregular entries) Dec. 1694 - Jan. 1708. Mothers' names not recorded till 1645, and often omitted till March 1662.
M.  (Contracts and Marriages.) Blank July 1592 - Jan. 1612, Feb. 1648 - Jan. 1650, Feb. 1653 - Dec. 1654, July 1677 - Dec. 1682, Dec. 1694 - Jan. 1708 (exc. one entry 1698).
D.  (Burials.) Record much wasted by damp.
[Vol. 426/6 contains an index to B. 1820 - 1854 "Appendix" (surname followed by forename of child). It also has 3 M. 1849 - 1850 (Herd / Adamson, Davis / Westwater and Crawford / Hetherton).]
[Subsequent to publication of the Detailed List, vol. 426/2 - B. 1609 - 1662, M. 1612 - 1629, D. 1721 - 1821 has been added. Also added is vol. 426/8 - D. 1756 - 1863 (Burials - Sinclairtown Burial Ground). In addition, there were records found in the Kirk Session records (CH2/390/24-26) which have been added: vol. 426/9 - D. 1818 - 1838 (Burials - Burying Ground opposite Lord Rosslyn's (St. Denis)); vol. 426/10 - D. 1838 - 1854 (Burials - West Burial Yard (St. Denis)); vol. 426/11 - D. 1825 - 1854 (Burials - New Church Burying Ground (Barony Churchyard)).]

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:

1040108 Item 4 Baptisms, 1582-1596, 1609-1662; Marriages, 1582- 1592, 1612-1662; Burials, 1582-1596
1040109 Transcripts (Baptisms, 1609-1662, Marriages, 1612- 1629); Burials, 1721-1753, 1731-1778, 1796-1821, 1731-1775; Baptisms, 1662-1819, 1762-1813; Marriages, 1662-1694, 1708-1734
1040110 Items 1 - 3 Burials, 1818-1855, 1825-1855; Neglected entries (baptisms), 1844-1853
1040195 Marriages, 1735-1854; Baptisms with Appendix, 1820-1854; Burials, 1756-1863
304667 Item 9 Burials, v. 23. 1795-1817 [St Denis]; v. 24. 1818-1838 [St Denis]; v. 25. West burials yard, 1838-1861 [St Denis]; v. 26. New Church burial ground, 1825-1861 [Barony churchyard].
(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 (CH2/390) are at the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh.

A list of elders (1827 - 1841) and a communion roll (1835) for the parish church have been extracted from the Kirk Session records (CH2/390/8) and have been published by the Fife Family History Society in their Publication 20.

Heritors' Records (HR613) are at the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh.

Notices from the Local Records of Dysart, a compilation from various sources covering both parish and burgh matters from 1534 to 1697, published in 1853, is available online at the Internet Archive.

At the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh:

At the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh but not online:

At the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh:

Other Churches :

Only the Dysart Relief Congregation (later United Presbyterian, then United Free), the Dysart Free Church, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Dysart Branch are considered here. All other churches are listed on the Kirkcaldy page.

At the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh:

At the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, USA, but available on microfilm at LDS Family History Centres around the world:

The Dysart page of the LDS Family Search Research Wiki has more information about church history and records.

Return to top of page

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
Dysart burgh 426/1 1855 1855
Dysart landward 426/2 1855 1855
Dysart 426 1856 1930
Kirkcaldy 442 1931 1971
Kirkcaldy 421 1972 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 Dysart Burgh Register of Deeds (1690-1829).

Return to top of page

Description & Travel

Dysart town centre Ordnance Survey Grid Reference GPS Post code Lat. 567'33"N
NT 304932 56.126436
KY1 2UG Lon. 37'16"W

Surrounding parishes: Kirkcaldy, Auchterderran, Kinglassie, Markinch, Wemyss.

Kirkcaldy Civic Society provide lots of information about the town.


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 Dysart 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

In 1901, the parishes of Abbotshall, Dysart & Kirkcaldy, plus part of the parish of Kinghorn, were united to form the parish of Kirkcaldy & Dysart.

In 1930, the burgh of Dysart was combined with the burgh of Kirkcaldy.

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:
Return to top of page

Military History

The Register of the Fife Fallen in the Great War, vol 1: Kirkcaldy & Dysart Fallen, 1914-1919 has been published and is available from the Fife Family History Society and the Tay Valley Family History Society.

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, 29.


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 10.

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. Despite the name, Dysart Combination Poorhouse was in Thornton, in Markinch parish.

Records of the Dysart Combination Poorhouse are at the Fife Council Archive Centre. Fife Family History Society have published an index covering the period 1868-1880 in their Publications Series, 34.

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


1755 2367
1801 5385
1851 8739
1901 16042
1951 boundary changed; no separate figures

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 Dysart 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 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 Dysart 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.Dysart 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
Dysart (Burgh) Dysart 617 415
Dysart Half-time School 120 70
Gallatown 343 270
Pathhead 615 576
Sinclairtown 659 555
Dysart (Landward) Boreland 84 83


"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


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 (search under Kirkcaldy).

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 Fife Council Archive Centre, Kirkcaldy:

On the Records pages of the Fife Family History Society website there is an index to Dysart Burgh Register of Deeds (1690-1829).

Notices from the Local Records of Dysart, a compilation from various sources covering both parish and burgh matters from 1534 to 1697, published in 1853, is available online at the Internet Archive.

Voting Registers

There are Voters' Rolls at Ancestry.co.uk for Dysart burgh for 1832.

Return to top of page