Description of the parish in 1857

Map showing the location of the parish

"Elie parish is situated on the Firth of Forth around Elie Bay. It is bounded on the north and west by Kilconquhar and on the east by Abercrombie. It is 1 mile from east to west and 1 mile in breadth, with an area of 1590 acres. 1470 acres are under cultivation, 70 acres are wooded, and 40 acres are waste land lying near the shore, being little better than a bed of sand. There are no hills. It is watered by a small stream which issues from Kilconquhar Loch and empties into Elie harbour. The soil is of an average quality. The rent of land is from £1 to £4-5/- per acre. Although coals are not wrought now in the parish, it bears ample proof of this having been done at a former period. Coals are now brought from another parish or imported from Newcastle. There is a Free Church but no U P church. There are 2 small schools besides a parish school. With few exceptions the inhabitants are sober, industrious, moral and religious. Elie Burgh is a Burgh of Barony. It is neat, clean, well-built and has a fine appearance. The harbour is good, safe and well sheltered from W and SW gales. A few fishermen live in the village, and go along the coast for white fish. Grain, potatoes and other produce are taken to Leith weekly; and other mercantile goods are brought back in return. The Aberdeen and Dundee steamboats stop at the harbour twice a week to land and take in passengers. The nearest market is Colinsburgh, 2.5 miles distant, which is also the post town, although there is a sub-post office in the village. The parish church and school are here. There is one inn, a good subscription library and a friendly society called the Sea Box. From the fine clean sands few places in the Firth are better adapted for sea bathing, hence in summer it is much resorted to for that purpose. It is 5 miles from Anstruther, 13 from St Andrews and 15 from Cupar." from 'A Descriptive & historic gazeteer of the counties of Fife, Kinross & Clackmannan', M Barbieri, published 1857.

Towns and Villages

Earlsferry, Liberty and Williamsburgh were included from 1891 (previously in Kilconquhar parish)

Places in Elie 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 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.

Old Elie & Earlsferry (Stenlake Publishing) contains many photographs and full descriptions.


Elie Churchyard, High Street, Elie (grid ref. NO 492001, GPS: 56.190563 -2.820748 Google map):


Parish / district reference number for 1841 - 1901 censuses: 427

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.

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
Elie 1042701 1042267 103829 103990 203523 208756
(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 1865 Ecclesiastical Directory lists the parish church and the Free Church.

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

The New Statistical Account (written in 1836) gives this information:

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

Details of church history:

A church was built and endowed in Elie by William Scott of Ardross, trustee of his father, Sir William Scott of Elie. It was opened on 17 April 1639, but ministry is recorded from 1622. The parish of Elie was disjoined from Kilconquhar on 11 September 1641. The steeple was built by Sir John Anstruther of Anstruther in 1726. On Earlsferry point there was a hospital or hostel to which probably a chapel was attached, founded by Duncan, Earl of Fife, who died in 1154. After the foundation of Elie Free Church in 1844 (later known as Elie Wood Memorial), the parish became known as Elie Old. Elie Old and Elie Wood Memorial united in 1949 to form Elie, which in turn was linked with Kilconquhar and Colinsburgh on 24 April 1977.
A new church was erected in 1887 and called Elie New 'Wood Memorial Church'. Wood Memorial Church united with Elie Old Church of Scotland on 5 June 1949. Elie was linked with Kilconquhar and Colinsburgh on 24 April 1977

Elie Church - 350 years, 1639 - 1989 by David Thomson is available from the Fife Family History Society.

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: 427

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

Elie OPR Births / baptisms Proclamations / marriages Deaths / burials / mortcloths
427/1 1639-1775 1639-1775 1736-1760
427/2 1773-1819 1774-1819 1783-1808
427/3 1820-1854 1820-1854 1822-1854
(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.  Leaf imperfect at 1676 - 1677. Blank (exc. one entry) May 1681 - April 1701, and Sept. 1724 - May 1732. On the margin of a good many entries are short notes indicating the time and manner of death, etc. of the parties.
M.  Blank June 1674 - Jan. 1678, and (exc. 12 entries of Contracts Sept. 1682 - Oct. 1684) Dec. 1678 - April 1701. Blank also Nov. 1718 - June 1732.
D.  (Deaths and Burials.) Blank Nov. 1760 - Nov. 1783, from which date the entries are engrossed on alternate pp. of the Register of Baptisms. Many of the entries after 1783 contain interesting information respecting the parties deceased, in addition to the time and place of Death and Burial.
[Subsequent to publication of the Detailed List, Death records 1822 - 1854 were added to the OPR series (vol. 427/3).]

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:

1040110 Items 4 - 5 Baptisms, 1639-1681, 1701-1724, 1732-1820; Marriages, 1639-1684, 1701-1718, 1732-1820; Burials, 1736-1760, 1783-1808.
1040111 Item 1 Baptisms, Marriages, 1820-1855; Burials, 1822-1855
(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 (HR253) 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:

At the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh:

Other Churches :

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

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

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
Elie 427 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.

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Description & Travel

Elie town centre Ordnance Survey Grid Reference GPS Post code Lat. 5611'25"N
NO 488001 56.190754
KY9 1AX Lon. 249'31"W

Surrounding parishes: Newburn, St Monans, Kilconquhar.


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 Elie 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

Elie parish had a detached portion north-west of the main part of the parish. On 15th May 1891 this part was transferred to Kilconquhar parish (comprising part of Charleton, Newton House, Muircambus and part of West Muircambus).

An area of Kilconquhar parish situated on the coast was, on the same date, transferred to the parish of Elie. This contained the burgh of Earlsferry, the villages of Liberty & Williamsburgh, Donald's Land, Grange, Grangehill, Melon Park, St Ford, part of West Muircambus, Kincraig, Old Glebe and Crooks.

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


The Elie and Earlsfery History Society have a very informative website.

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Land and 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:

Military History

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

There are photographs and transcriptions of Elie and Earlsferry war memorials. The site also includes biographical details of the personnel.

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, 27.


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. See Public Records below.

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Year Population
1755 642
1801 730
1851 843
1901 1142   * boundary changed
1951 1325

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 Elie 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.

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 school logbooks are held at the Fife Council Archive Centre. Elie 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
Elie Earlsferry 102 101
Elie 160 101


"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.

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 Special Collections Dept. of St Andrews University Library:

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