Description of the parish in 1857

Map showing the location of the parish

"Monimail parish occupies a portion of the central valley of Fifeshire. It is bounded on the north by Cupar, Moonzie, Creich and Dunbog; on the south by Collessie and Cults; on the east by Cupar and on the west by Abdie and Collessie. It is 5 miles long by 4 in breadth. A range of whinstone hills lies to the north, of which Mount Hill is the highest; on top of which a beautiful pillar has been erected in memory of the late Lord Hopetoun in 1826; it is upwards of 100 feet in height. The south portion is generally more level, and diversified by soft undulations. The parish is watered by several rivulets, one of them turning a mill-wheel without a dam; they all fall into the river Eden. The Fife breed of cattle, and the Ayrshire cows for milk, are preferred. Though sheep are not reared, they are largely bought to feed on turnips through the winter. Potatoes are rather extensively cultivated for the London market, as also for feeding cattle. The rent of the land will run from £1-5s to £3-10s per acre. Coal has to be brought from Markinch or Dysart. The south half contains freestone, sufficient for local use. The whinstone, though abundant, is with few exceptions unfit for building, as it soon yields to the action of the atmosphere. Weaving of linens is carried on in the parish to the annual value of 'between £2000 and £3000'. Parish church and Free church. Parish school and three private schools. There are 3 public houses in the parish. There are 2 parish libraries; and a flourishing friendly society. There is one village, Letham, with 450 inhabitants; it is 4 miles west of Cupar and 5 miles east of Auchtermuchty; it has an annual fair in June. There are 2 hamlets in the parish: Monimail with 85 inhabitants and Easter Fernie with 60." from A Descriptive & historic gazeteer of the counties of Fife, Kinross & Clackmannan, M Barbieri, published in 1857

Towns and Villages

Bow of Fife

Places in Monimail 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


There are 2 cemeteries in Monimail parish:

1. Monimail Old Cemetery / Churchyard, Monimail (grid ref. NO 297142; GPS: 56.314573 -3.135487 Google map): 2. Monimail Cemetery, Monimail (grid ref. NO 297143; GPS: 56.315211 -3.135084 Google map):


Parish / district reference number for 1841 - 1901 censuses: 448

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
Monimail 1042703 1042270 103831 103994 203529 208765
(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 at Monimail, there was also a Free Church at Bow of Fife.

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

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

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

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

Details of church history:

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: 448

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

Monimail OPR Births / baptisms Proclamations / marriages Deaths / burials / mortcloths
448/1 1656-1725 1656-1725 1677-1720
448/2 1725-1819 1725-1819 1738-1819
448/3 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.  and M.  intermixed till 1687. Records prior to 1725 very much wasted. Blank Feb. 1657 - Sept. 1658, July 1679 - July 1682, July 1684 - Nov. 1686, Aug. 1689 - Aug. 1690, Aug. 1696 - Jan. 1698. After May 1747, entries of children of Seceders, 1738 - 1748. Duplicate of Record of B. 1725 - 1749. Page of irregular entries 1799 - 1810, at June 1806; also entries 1823 - 1854, on four pp. at end of 1814. Mothers' names seldom recorded till 1666, and occasionally omitted till about 1682.
M.  Prior to 1687 intermixed with B. Blank Dec. 1687 - Aug. 1690. No entries June 1696 - Nov. 1697. Blank Nov. 1754 - July 1761. Record before 1725 much injured by damp.
D.  Four entries for 1685. Regular Record commences Oct. 1697. Blank April 1720 - Jan, 1738, June 1751 - Jan. 1753, and (exc. three entries) Oct. 1754 - March 1784. Only two entries Aug. 1786 - Jan. 1817.

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:

1040338 Items 1 - 3 Session book (includes baptisms, marriage proclamations), 1656- 1685; Baptisms, 1685-1854; Marriages, 1685-1754, 1761-1861; Burials, 1685, 1697-1720, 1738-1754, 1780-1790, 1817-1835, 1844, 1853-1854.
(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.

Further information on the main Fife page.

Kirk Session and similar records are held at the Special Collections Dept. of St Andrews University Library. Some Kirk Session material is to be found in the OPR records (448/1).

Heritors' Records (HR432) 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:

Included in the Old Parochial Registers on microfilm and at the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh but not online:

At the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh:

Other Churches :

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

The Monimail 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
Monimail 448 1855 1967
Cupar 420 1968 1971
Cupar 417 1972 2002
Fife 417 2003  

Registration districts did not necessarily coincide exactly with parishes. In the 20th century especially, there were frequent changes in registration districts.

Description & Travel

Monimail village centre Ordnance Survey Grid Reference GPS Post code Lat. 5618'53"N
NO 297142 56.314968
KY15 4RJ Lon. 38'7"W

Surrounding parishes: Moonzie, Creich, Dunbog, Abdie, Collessie, Cults, Cupar.

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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 Monimail 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:

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 recently re-published it in their Publications Series, 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 884
1801 1066
1851 1102
1901 720
1951 622

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 Monimail 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 / or school logbooks are held at the Fife Council Archive Centre. Monimail 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
Monimail Easter Fernie 54 26
Letham 103 82


"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.

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