"ALVA, a parish, in the county of STIRLING, 7 miles (N.E. by E.) from Stirling; containing 2216 inhabitants of whom 2092 are in the village. The name of this place, the orthography of which has successively passed through the different forms of Alueth, and Alvath or Alveth to that of Alva, is of Gaelic origin, and is supposed to be derived from the term Ailbheach, signifying "rocky"; it was probably applied to this spot as descriptive of the general character of the hills. The parish is locally situated in Clackmannanshire, and formerly belonged to that county, by which it is bounded on all sides except the north, where it touches Perthshire".

[Topographical Dictionary of Scotland by Samuel Lewis, published 1846]

"ALVA, a parish in the county of Stirling, but detached from it, and lying locally in the county of Clackmannan, to which it is attached, by the Reform Act, for political purposes, Scotland, 3 miles to the N. of Alloa. It is situated on the river Devon, lying partly in the charming valley of that river, and partly among the Ochil hills. It was at one time a possession of the abbey of Canibuskenneth. Great part of the surface consists of hill pastures, other parts are under tillage or wooded. Coal is found, and valuable ores of various kinds; iron, lead, copper, silver, &c. The woollen manufacture is carried on in the village. The living is within the presbytery of Stirling, value £157, in the patronage of the Johnstones of Alva, who are also the sole heritors. The parish church was rebuilt in 1815. There is also a Free church, and a United Presbyterian church, which was opened in 1843. The Ochils rise at Bencleuch to the height of 2,420 feet. Craig Leith is a lofty perpendicular rock on Bencleuch, and was at one time celebrated for its breed of falcons, which were usually appropriated to the service of royalty. Snow lies occasionally till late in the summer, in a hollow near Craig Leith, and it is named in the poetical language of the peasantry, "Lady Alva's Web." Alva House, the seat of the Johnstones, stands on a hill projecting from the base of Wood-hill, which rises 1,400 feet above it, making the whole height 1,620 feet. The view from the summit of Woodhill, over the Frith of Forth and the coast of Fife, is very fine. The parish has an area of about 10 square miles."

[Description(s) from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868)
Transcribed by Colin Hinson ©2003]

The Parish of Alva was originally under the jurisdiction of Stirling County - see the GENUKI Alva (Stirlingshire) page. However, the parish became a part of Clackmannanshire in 1891 when changes were made by the Boundary Commission.

For more on Alva see the Edinburgh University Scottish Gazetteer.