Description of the parish in 1862

Map showing the location of the parish

"Scoonie parish, containing the baron burgh of Leven, is on the south coast of the county. It is bounded by Wemyss, Markinch, Kennoway, Kettle, Ceres and Largo. It is about 5 miles long by 2 miles broad. Beds of coal lie beneath the whole parish and are still worked at Kilmux. A bed of ochre occurs on the estates of Durie and Aithernie, and there are mills for grinding it in Leven. Leven burgh consists chiefly of 3 streets running parallel to each other, east and west, and connected by a number of bye-lanes. It is connected to Innerleven by a fine stone bridge. As with other towns on this shore, it is a favourite resort in the summer for sea bathing. A number of inhabitants are engaged in hand-loom weaving, but the greater number are employed in the mills in this and the neighbouring parishes. There are flax spinning mills, saw mills, a flour mill, a bone mill, a lintseed oil mill, a herring net factory, an iron foundry and a brickworks. There is a parish church, a Free Church and a UP Church. There was formerly an independent chapel, but it has been shut for some time. " edited from Westwood's Directory for the counties of Fife & Kinross published 1862.

Towns and Villages


Places in Scoonie 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 Methil Heritage Centre has a very interesting collection of information about Leven, Methil and surrounding areas.

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.

Bygone Leven (Stenlake Publishing) contains many photographs and full descriptions.


Scoonie Cemetery, Largo Road, Leven (grid ref. NO 384016; GPS: 56.204436 -2.994591 Google map):


Parish / district reference number for 1841 - 1901 censuses: 456

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
Scoonie 1042704 1042272 103832 103995 203531 208767
(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 were also an Episcopal Church, a Free Church (Foreman) and a relief church (United Presbyterian - St John's).

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, the United Presbyterian Church, the Episcopal Church, and the Free Church.

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

Details of church history:

It is thought that the history of Scoonie Kirk may date as far back as the 4th cent and that the beginnings of the church can be linked to the Shelter of St Ethernanus or Ethernan. The church belonged to the priory of St Andrews, and in 1243 Bishop de Bernham dedicated the Church to St Modwena. By the middle of the 18th cent the church was in such a state of disrepair that the congregation was moved to temporary premises until a new church was built at the present site at Leven in 1775. A new church, which incorporates the 18th cent steeple was subsequently built in 1904. The name Scoonie was dropped towards the end of the 20th cent and the parish is currently termed as Leven Kirk. The Kirk session sits within the Presbytery of Kirkcaldy.

On the 8 March 1831 a petition for sermon was presented to the Relief Presbytery of Dysart from around 200 residents of Leven and the surrounding district. Their request was granted and in September 1832 the newly formed Relief Congregation of Leven moved in to a newly erected church, which had been built at a cost of £542, this building was later superceded in 1871 when a church with seating for 600 was erected at a cost of £2150. James Vallance, the first minister of the congregation, was ordained in February 1834. In 1847 Leven Relief Congregation became part of the United Presbyterian Church. Following the union between the United Presbyterian Church and the Free Church of Scotland in 1900, Leven U.P. was renamed Leven St John's United Free Church and upon the 1929 union between the Church of Scotland and the United Free Church, Leven St John's United Free Church became Leven St John's Church of Scotland. In 1975 Leven St John's formed a union with the congregation of Leven Forman, under the name of Leven St Andrew's. The congregation sat within the Presbytery of Kirkcaldy.

Leven Free Church was formed at the Disruption by adherents from Scoonie parish. A church was built in the same year (replaced 1871, its predecessor becoming the town hall). It passed successively to the United Free Church, as Leven Forman, and to the Church of Scotland. The Church of Scotland charge, which was in the presbytery of Kirkcaldy and the synod of Fife, united with Leven St John's in 1975 as Leven St Andrew's.

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: 456

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

Scoonie OPR Births / baptisms Proclamations / marriages Deaths / burials / mortcloths
456/1 1675-1786 1667-1766 1765-1766
456/2 1770-1792 1770-1792 1770-1792
456/3 1783-1819 1793-1819 1817-1819
456/4 1820-1854 1820-1854 1820-1854
Register of Neglected Entries 1842, 1851    
(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.  Defective 1716 - 1718. After Record for May 1760, there are six pp. of irregular entries dated 1740 - 1786. Then follows a copy of the Record of B. Dec. 1755 - March 1760, with continuation. Blank March 1761 - Oct. 1765, and Dec. 1768 - March 1770, from which date to 1792, B. M. and D. are mixed up in one Record, and all blank July 1783 - Sept. 1788. There is, however, a separate Register of B. from 1783, which is continuous. Irregular entries frequent 1792 - 1804 incl. After 1819, are six entries (one family) 1814 - 1827.
M.  Only entries of Marriage Pledges, etc. before Feb. 1676. Entries Feb. 1676 - Oct. 1677 among B. Separate Record Nov. 1677 - Nov. 1702. Blank Nov. 1702 - Oct. 1718, from which date to April 1760, entries again recorded among B. There is also a Record of Contracts or Proclamations Oct. 1755 - April 1760. Blank from latter date till Nov. 1765, when the Record of Contracts is resumed. Again blank May 1766 - March 1770, from which date till Jan. 1783, and Sept. 1788 - Nov. 1792, the entries of Contracts are intermixed with Baptisms and Burials for the same period. [Blank 1783 - 1788.] Separate Register of Contracts and Marriages from June 1794. The title-page of this Record bears that it began Oct. 1783, but the early leaves have probably been destroyed or lost.
D.  (Burials.) Blank April 1766 - Jan. 1770, Feb. 1783 - Feb. 1788, and May 1792 - Jan. 1817. Deaths and Burials after 1817. [There are 7 entries of D. for 1817 between B. 1825 - 1826.]

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:

1040339 Items 3 - 5 Baptisms, 1675-1786, 1783-1819; Marriages, 1667- 1702, 1755-1766, 1793-1819; Burials, 1673-1682, 1765-1766, 1817-1819; Session book (includes baptisms, marriage proclamations, mortcloth dues [burial records]), 1770-1792.
1040190 Item 1 Baptisms, Burials, 1819-1854; Marriages, 1820-1854; Burials (Leven), 1837-1843; Neglected entries (baptisms), 1842, 1851.
(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.

Some of the OPR entries can be searched on the FreeREG site.

Further information on the main Fife page.

Kirk Session records are at the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh

The Presbytrie Book of Kirkcaldie, the record of the proceedings of the Presbytery of Kirkcaldy (which includes references to this parish), from 15 April 1630 - 14 September 1653, is available through the web archive.

At the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh:

Other Churches :

At the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh:

The Scoonie 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
Scoonie 456 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.

Heritors' Records (HR764) are at the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh.

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Court Records

Leven Burgh Court records (from 1927) are held by Fife Council Archives.

Description & Travel

Leven town centre Ordnance Survey Grid Reference GPS Post code Lat. 5611'42"N
NO 381009 56.196668
KY8 4SE Lon. 259'48"W

Surrounding parishes: Wemyss, Largo, Ceres, Kettle, Kennoway, Markinch.


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 Scoonie 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.

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Historic maps: Present-day maps:

Military History

War memorials can be seen at the Scottish War Memorials Project.

Levenmouth at War, by Lillian King, 2005, ISBN 0953983986, is packed with reminiscences of the local area in the Second World War.

Names, Geographical

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


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.

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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 1528
1801 1681
1851 3115
1901 6342
1951 9518

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 Scoonie may be found in either the St Andrews Commissariot (CC20) or the Edinburgh Commissariot (CC8) records. From 1824 to 1960, commissary business was conducted by the Sheriff Court of Fife at Cupar (SC20). From 1960, it has been conducted at Kirkcaldy (SC23) Sheriff Court.

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. Scoonie 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
Scoonie Leven 824 754
Smithy Green 65 32


"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 Fife Council Archive Centre, Kirkcaldy:

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