Description of the parish in 1857

Map showing the location of the parish

"Kilconquhar (pronounced Kinnuchar) is bounded by Elie, Cameron, Ceres, St Monans, Carnbee, Newburn, Largo and the River Forth. It is 9 miles from north to south and 2 miles in breadth. There are 2900 acres under cultivation, 1600 under pasture, 800 under wood and about 200 acres of links. Kilconquhar Loch, nearly 2 miles in circumference, boasts some of the largest eel and pike in the country. It is also frequented by a large quantity of duck, teal and swans. There are 1450 cattle and over 500 horses, the latter being reared for the market and sold at 4 years old. There are 24 thrashing mills. Coal is abundant in the parish. Nearly 300 persons are employed weaving dowlasses, checks and sheetings for the Kirkland, Kirkcaldy and Dundee markets; yet there are no spinning mills nor manufactures in the parish. Besides the Church at Kilconquhar, there is a chapel of ease at Largoward, and UP churches at Kilconquhar and Colinsburgh. There is a parish school and 6 others. There are 12 public houses. Earlsferry village and royal burgh consists of a single street with bye lanes, intimately joined with Elie. The inhabitants are weavers, fishers and colliers. Colinsburgh is a burgh of barony under the Balcarres family. Its main industry is leather currying. Kilconquhar village also has a tan-works." from 'A Descriptive & historic gazeteer of the counties of Fife, Kinross & Clackmannan', M Barbieri, published 1857.

Towns and Villages

Earlsferry, Liberty and Williamsburgh (until 1891, then transferred to Elie parish)

Places in Kilconquhar 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 and Old Kilconquhar & Colinsburgh (Stenlake Publishing) contain many photographs and full descriptions.


There is 1 cemetery and 1 private chapel in Kilconquhar parish:

1. Kilconquhar Churchyard / Cemetery, Main Street, Kilconquhar (grid ref. NO 485020, GPS: 56.208172 -2.83225 Google map):

2. Balcarres Chapel, in the grounds of Balcarres House, Colinsburgh (grid ref. NO 474046, GPS: 56.229844 -2.847944 Google map):

The pre-1855 monumental inscriptions are listed in "Fifeshire Monumental Inscriptions (pre-1855) vol. 1 South east parishes" by John Fowler Mitchell & Sheila Mitchell, published by the Scottish Genealogy Society. ISBN 0901061948

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.


Parish / district reference number for 1841 - 1901 censuses: 436

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
Kilconquhar 1042702 1042268 103829 103992 203524 208758
(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

In addition to the parish church, there was also a Relief Church of Scotland at Largoward; a United Presbyterian (Burgher) Church at Kilconquhar; an Associate Relief church at Colinsburgh; and a United Presbyterian church at Colinsburgh.

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

The New Statistical Account (written in 1837) gives this information:

The 1865 Ecclesiastical Directory lists the parish church, another Established Church at Largoward, the Congregationalist Church in Colinsburgh and the United Presbyterian Church and Colinsburgh.

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

Details of church history:

The church of Kilconquhar, which was rebuilt in 1820-1821, formerly belonged to the Benedictine Nunnery of North Berwick and the session records ministry from 1560, in the person of Alexander Spens. In 1954, following the union of the Church of Scotland and the United Free Church in 1929, Kilconquhar was united with the former United Free church congregation of Colinsburgh, under the name of Kilconquhar and Colinsburgh. The united session, which sits within the Presbytery of St Andrews, later linked with Elie in 1977.

Largoward parish was disjoined from Kilconquhar in 1860, and was erected quoad sacra in the Presbytery of St Andrews and Synod of Fife. A chapel of ease had been built here and opened in 1835. In 1949 the charge was linked with Cameron; and further linked in 1975 with St Andrews: St Leonard's. In 1983 the linkage with those charges was terminated, and it was linked instead with St Monans.

The village of Colinsburgh, in the parish of Kilconquhar (Fife), established itself as the place where the Presbytery of Relief was first constituted. In 1760 the first minister of the Colinsburgh Relief congregation was inducted and the building of a meeting-house for the congregation began soon after, about a mile from the parish church. There were problems within the congregation and the Relief Church concerning the ordination and ministry of James Cowan, the second minister, and in 1800 a new Relief congregation was created in Colinsburgh. The average summer attendance at the church was 50 in 1837. After the death of the last minister, Alexander Scott, in 1842, the congregation ceased.

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: 436

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

Kilconquhar OPR Births / baptisms Proclamations / marriages Deaths / burials / mortcloths
436/1 1637-1709 1637-1709  
436/2 1719-1793 1719-1770 1737-1787
436/3 1781-1819 (+ some indexes) 1770-1819 1787-1819 (+ index 1787-1812)
436/4 1820-1854 1820-1854 1820-1854
(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.  Two leaves Nov. 1646 - March 1648 very much wasted, and all the entries partially illegible. Blank May 1709 - Aug. 1719. Duplicate of Record 1781 - 1793. Index to B. 1781 - 1805.
M.  blank Feb. 1669 - May 1673, June 1709 - Sept. 1719.
D.  Burials till 1754; after that date Deaths and Burials. From 1793, entries generally recorded on alternate pp. of the Register of B. Index to D. 1787 - 1812.
[Vol. 436/3 contains an index to B. 1781 - 1788 (surname followed by forename of child); an index to B. 1793 - 1809 (as previous but only letter 'R'); and an index to D. 1787 - 1812 (surname followed by forename).]

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:

1040385 Baptisms, 1637-1709, 1719-1793, 1781-1788, 1793- 1796; Marriages, 1637-1709, 1719-1770; Burials, 1737-1796.
1040165 Items 1 - 2 Baptisms, 1796-1854; Burials, 1787, 1796-1851; Marriages, 1770-1855.
(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 (HR194) 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 :

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 Special Collections Dept. of St Andrews University Library:

The Kilconquhar 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
Kilconquhar 436 1855 1967
Leven 443 1968 1971
Leven 415 1972 2002
Fife 415 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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Court Records

At the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh:

Description & Travel

Kilconquhar church Ordnance Survey Grid Reference GPS Post code Lat. 5612'29"N
NO 485021 56.208688
KY9 1LQ Lon. 249'53"W

Surrounding parishes: Elie, Newburn, Largo, Ceres, Cameron, Carnbee, St Monans.


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 Kilconquhar 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

On 15th May 1891, a detached part of Elie parish was transferred to Kilconquhar parish (comprising part of Charleton, Newton House, Muircambus and part of West Muircambus).
On the same date, an area of Kilconquhar parish situated on the coast was 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

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:

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.

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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, 26, 27 and 28.


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.


Year Population
1755 2131
1801 2005
1851 2489
1901 1517  * boundary changed
1951 1197

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 Kilconquhar 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. Kilconquhar 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
Kilconquhar Colinsburgh 176 77
Kilconquhar 144 91
Largoward Largoward 164 92


"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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