Description of the parish in 1862

Map showing the location of the parish

"Pittenweem parish, consisting of the Royal Burgh, lies on the Firth of Forth and is bounded by St Monans and Anstruther Wester. It is only 1.5 miles long by 0.5 miles broad. An abundance of excellent coal exists in the parish - it was once worked, but now only requires capital and enterprise to re-commence this valuable activity. The Royal Burgh consists of several streets, with many of the houses looking substantial and neat. The harbour has a south-westerly entrance and has been much improved of late. A number of sloops and schooners belong to the harbour and the shore dues amount to upwards of £200 per annum. Much business is done in the export of potatoes and grain. The principal imports are coal, wood and salt - the latter for fish curing purposes. Pittenweem is an extensive fish curing station. The number of crans brought into the harbour in 1860 being 14730, the value of which amounted to £13000. The majority of the Population are employed in connection with the sea, such as sailors, fishermen, fish curers, coopers, etc. There is, in addition to the parish church, an Episcopalian Church, a UP Church and a Free Church preaching station." edited from Westwood's Directory for the counties of Fife & Kinross published 1862.

Towns and Villages


Places in Pittenweem 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.

Old Pittenweem (Stenlake Publishing) contains many photographs and full descriptions.


There are 2 cemeteries in Pittenweem parish:

1. Pittenweem Churchyard, Kirkgate, Pittenweem (grid ref. NO 549026; GPS: 56.213863 -2.728692 Google map):

2. Pittenweem Cemetery, David Street, Pittenweem (grid ref. NO 546028; GPS: 56.215629 -2.732643 Google map):

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


Parish / district reference number for 1841 - 1901 censuses: 452

The 1841 return 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
Pittenweem 1042703 1042271 103832 103994 203530 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 (St. Aidan's) there was another church (variously the Relief, United Presbyterian, United Free, then St Fillan's Church of Scotland).

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

The New Statistical Account (written in 1845) gives no information about dissenters.

The 1865 Ecclesiastical Directory lists the parish church, the Episcopal Church (St John's) and a United Presbyterian Church.

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: 459

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

Pittenweem OPR Births / baptisms Proclamations / marriages Deaths / burials / mortcloths
452/1 1611-1745 1692-1745 1685-1690
452/2 1750-1819 1750-1819 1782-1819
452/3   1612-1652  
452/4 1820-1854 1820-1854 1820-1854
452/5   Accounts for marriages  1650-1662  
(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.  The entries on the lower half of the first three leaves of the Record either partially or entirely illegible through damp. Blank 1615 - Nov. 1628. From latter date to 1639 mothers' names not recorded. Blank Nov. 1655 - Jan. 1685. Three leaves at 1688 - 1690 imperfect. Blank (exc. four irregular entries) Aug. 1690 - May 1692. Portion 1732 - 1742 has also been injured by damp and moths. Five leaves imperfect at 1742 - 1745. Entries for 1746 on pp. 92, 94, 95 of Record. Blank (exc. one entry) Sept. 1746 - Aug. 1750. Portion of leaf cut off at April 1789. Irregular entries of occasional occurrence.
M.  After 11 entries (Feb. to May 1612), Record blank until Dec. 1619. Leaves from 1619 - 1621 partially destroyed by mice, and from 1728 - 1740 injured by damp. From 1619 - 1652 separate entries of Contracts and of Marriages mixed up with other matters. Blank Dec. 1652 - Oct. 1692. From June 1704 the entries generally bear the dates of the Contract, the Proclamation, and the Marriage of the parties. Blank Nov. 1746 - July 1750, and (exc. four entries 1770, and three entries 1777 - 1778) March 1766 - March 1779. Record of 1750 - 1759 incl. in parallel cols. with the Baptisms for the same period.
D.  (Burials.) Record prior to 1690 in parallel cols. with Baptisms for same period. Blank Dec. 1690 - March 1782, after which Deaths. Blank also (exc. one entry) Feb. 1791 - Jan. 1793, and (exc. four entries) July 1807 - Feb. 1811.
[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.]
[Subsequent to publication of the Detailed List, records were found within other Church of Scotland records (CH2/833/1) which contain Marriages 1650 - 1662. These are now included in the OPR Records as 452/5.]
[Vol. 452/4 contains an index to B. 1838 - 1854 (surname followed by forename of child); an index to M. 1838 - 1854 (both parties' surnames, bridegroom's first); and an index to D. 1832 - 1854 (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:

1040170 Baptisms, 1611-1614, 1628-1655, 1685-1819; Marriages, 1692-1820; Burials, 1685-1690, 1782- 1821; Session book (includes Marriages proclamations), 1612-1652.
1040171 Items 1 - 2 Baptisms, Marriages, 1819-1854; Burials, 1820-1854; Marriage banns, 1650-1660.
(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 for the parish church (CH2/833) are held at the Special Collections Dept. of St Andrews University Library. Some Kirk Session material is also to be found in the OPR records (452/3).

Details of church records here.

Heritors' Records (HR68) are at the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh.  Details of records here.

Other Churches :

Most records of other churches are held by the Special Collections Dept. of St Andrews University Library. Some records are still retained in the churches.

Some of the pre-1855 baptism and marriage registers have been transcribed and published.

Details of church records, transcriptions and indexes here.

The Pittenweem 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
Pittenweem 452 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.

Court Records

Court records are held at the Manuscript Department of the Special Collections Department of St Andrews University Library.

Details of records here.

On the Records pages of the Fife Family History Society website there is an index to Pittenweem Burgh Register of Deeds (1721-1881).

Description & Travel

Pittenweem town centre Ordnance Survey Grid Reference GPS Post code Lat. 5612'47"N
NO 548025 56.212923
KY10 2LA Lon. 243'47"W

Surrounding parishes: Carnbee, St Monans, Anstruther Wester.

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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 Pittenweem 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, small areas with indistinct boundaries were exchanged between Anstruther Wester and Pittenweem parishes.

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

Land and Property

Sasines Registers and Valuation Rolls are held at the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh, at the Special Collections Dept. of St Andrews University Library, and the Fife Council Archives, Markinch. Details of records here.

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 recently re-published it in their Publications Series, 30.


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 11.

Directory of Seafarers - the East Neuk ofFife1580-1800 and The Shipping of Anstruther and the East Neuk of Fife by David Dobson can be obtained from the Tay Valley 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. Details of records here.


Year Population
1755 939
1801 1072
1851 1473
1901 1911
1951 1594

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 Pittenweem 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 Pittenweem Sheriff Court.


School Board records and / or 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
Pittenweem East 321 217
South 220 184


"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


Some 18th century assessed tax records (eg window tax & inhabited house tax) are at the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh. Details of records here.

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.

Archives of the former Burgh of Pittenweem are held at the Special Collections Dept. of St Andrews University Library, the Fife Archive Centre, and the National Records of Scotland in Edinburgh. Other records were at Cupar Library, including parochial assessments, rental books and lists of voters.

Details of records here.

Voting Registers

Some early electoral registers are held at the Fife Council Archives Centre, Markinch, and at the Special Collections Dept. of St Andrews University Library. Details of records here.

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