Description of the parish in 1862

Map showing the location of the parish

"Kilrenny parish, consisting of the inland burgh of Kilrenny and the fishing village of Cellardyke, extends along the Firth of Forth for 3.5 miles and inland for 2 miles. It is bounded by Crail, Carnbee and the 2 Anstruthers. Upper Kilrenny contains the parish church, while Nether Kilrenny (or Cellardyke) consist of one main street running along the shore as a continuation of Anstruther Wester and Easter. It is one of the most important fishing stations in the county. The Anstruther Free and UP Churches are both within this parish. " edited from Westwood's Directory for the counties of Fife & Kinross published 1862.

Towns and Villages


Places in Kilrenny 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.

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.


Kilrenny Churchyard / Cemetery, Main Street, Kilrenny (grid ref. NO 575049, GPS: 56.234265 -2.687008 Google map):


Parish / district reference number for 1841 - 1901 censuses: 438. Part in 402 from 1861 (see Civil Registration).

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
Kilrenny 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 a Church of Scotland in Cellardyke. Anstruther Free Church (later the Chalmers Memorial United Free Church) was situated in Kilrenny parish.

The Old Statistical Account (written in the 1790s) does not mention any dissenters from the Established Church.

The New Statistical Account (written in 1843) gives this information:

The 1865 Ecclesiastical Directory lists the parish church, and the Free Church in Anstruther.

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: 438

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

Kilrenny OPR Births / baptisms Proclamations / marriages Deaths / burials / mortcloths
438/1 1647-1783 1647-1783 1755-1782
438/2 1783-1819 1783-1819 1783-1819
438/3 1820-1854 1820-1854 1820-1854
Register of Neglected Entries 1845 (2 entries)    
(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.  intermixed throughout. Leaves of Record prior to 1696 very much wasted, and many entries partially or entirely destroyed. Blank Nov. 1660 - Aug. 1677, Sept. 1680 - Nov. 1688; and circa 1696 - July 1712. Portion circa 1688 - 1696 very much wasted.
D.  Exc. a few entries of Burials, circa 1688 - 1696, among the B. and M., no Record till May 1753. No entries Nov. 1782 - Nov. 1783, from which date till Oct. 1791, D. recorded among the B. and M. Separate Record after Nov. 1791, in which particulars connected with the last illness of the deceased are frequently stated.
[The early portion of the B. and M. Register for Anstruther Wester contains entries for the neighbouring parishes of Abercrombie or St Monance, Kilrenny, and Pittenweem.]

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:

1040166 Items 3 - 5 Session book (includes baptisms, marriage proclamations), 1647- 1660, 1677-1696; Baptisms, Marriages, 1712-1854; Burials, 1754-1854; Neglected entries (2 baptisms), 1845.
(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. Some Kirk Session material is to be found in the OPR records (438/1). Details of church records here.

Heritors' Records (HR21) are at the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh. Details of records here.

Other Churches :

Records for other churches are held at the Special Collections Dept. of St Andrews University Library. Details of church records here.

The Kilrenny 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
Kilrenny burgh 438/1 1855 1855
Kilrenny landward 438/2 1855 1855
Kilrenny 438 1856 1930
Anstruther and Kilrenny 402 1931 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. Part of Kilrenny parish is in Anstruther Easter registration district.

Description & Travel

Kilrenny church Ordnance Survey Grid Reference GPS Post code Lat. 5614'4"N
NO 576048 56.233844
KY10 3JJ Lon. 241'14"W

Surrounding parishes: Crail, Anstruther Easter, Anstruther Wester, Carnbee.

There is a useful Anstruther and Cellardyke website here.

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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 Kilrenny 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

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.


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.

Names, Geographical

There is an index to the Ordnance Survey Object Name Books for this parish here.

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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 (for Cellardyke) 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.

There is a series of articles about many Fife family businesses in Fife Family History Society's Journal, New Series 9.

Mariners of St Andrews and the East Neuk of Fife by David Dobson can be obtained from the Fife Family History Society or the Tay Valley Family History Society.

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Poorhouses, Poor Law, etc.

The relief of paupers after 1845 was carried out by theParochial Board and later by the Parish Council. Their records are at the Fife Council Archive Centre. Details of records here.


Year Population
1755 1348
1801 1043
1851 2194
1901 2950
1951 2271

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 Kilrenny 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.


School Board records and 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
Kilrenny Cellardyke 225 224
Cellardyke Infant School 238 173
Kilrenny Upper 147 93


"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.

Town Records

Towns were usually referred to as Burghs in Scotland.

Under the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1929 (19 &20 Geo. V, c.25) , the Fife royal burghs of Anstruther Easter and Anstruther Wester and the burgh of Kilrenny were amalgamated to create the United Burghs of Kilrenny, Anstruther Easter and Anstruther Wester. The Kilrenny, Anstruther Easter and Anstruther Wester Town Council was abolished in 1975.

The archives of the former Burghs of Anstruther Easter & Wester are held at the Special Collections Dept. of St Andrews University Library, Fife Council Archives and the National Records of Scotland. Details of records here.

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