Description of the parish in 1862

"Abbotshall parish lies on the Firth of Forth, bounded by Kirkcaldy, Kinghorn, Auchtertool, Auchterderran and Dysart. It is about 4 miles long by 2.5 miles broad. The great majority of the inhabitants live in Linktown, a burgh of regality under Colonel Ferguson of Raith. It is part of the parliamentary burgh of Kirkcaldy and forms a continuation of it. The small village of Chapel is also in the parish. The parish shares fully in the trade and manufactures of Kirkcaldy. In the Linktown, there is a gas work, a pottery, a brick and tile work, some hundred of hand looms, a sail canvas manufactory, a linen bleachfield, a dye works, spinning mills and a number of corn mills. In addition to the parish church, there are a UP Church and 2 Free Churches at Abbotshall and Invertiel." edited from Westwood's Directory for the counties of Fife & Kinross published 1862.


The parish includes much of the present-day town of Kirkcaldy.


Archives & Libraries

The ScotlandsPlaces website lets users search across national databases by geographical location. It includes, amongst other material,

  • catalogue entries for maps and plans held by the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh; some maps and plans can be viewed
  • photos and details of historical buildings and archaeological sites recorded by the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, Edinburgh
  • 17th and 18th century tax rolls
  • Ordnance Survey [place] Name Books
  • an opportunity to transcribe thousands of historic documents


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 Kirkcaldy - Central, North & West (Stenlake Publishing) contains many photographs and full descriptions.



There is 1 cemetery in Abbotshall parish. There are others in the town of Kirkcaldy, in Kirkcaldy and Dysart parishes.

Abbotshall Churchyard, Abbotshall Road, Kirkcaldy (grid ref. NT 273913, GPS: 56.109624 -3.169111):

  • The pre-1855 monumental inscriptions for Abbotshall Churchyard are listed in "Fifeshire Monumental Inscriptions (pre-1855) vol. 1 South east parishes" by John Fowler Mitchell & Sheila Mitchell, published by the Scottish Genealogy Society. ISBN 0901061948
  • The current lair registers (dating from 1908) are administered by Fife Council, Bereavement Services Central, Kirkcaldy Crematorium, Rosemount Avenue, Kirkcaldy, KY2 6HQ. Tel. 01592 260277. Fax 01592 203438.
  • A CD with photographs of the stones and transcriptions is available from Scottish Monumental Inscriptions or from The Parish Chest.

Kirkcaldy Central Library has a large collection of transcripts, indexes and manuscript volumes of Kirkcaldy burials.

A selection of  interesting inscriptions and photographs are included in the booklet Guide to Kirkcaldy Graveyards, published by Kirkcaldy Civic Society, 1996 (ISBN 1946294038).



Parish / district reference number for 1841 - 1871 censuses: 399. Some parts in 442 in 1861 & 1871 (see Civil Registration).
District reference number for 1881 - 1901 censuses: 442 (included with Kirkcaldy).

The 1841 and 1851 returns can be searched on the FreeCEN website.

The 1851 census has been indexed and published 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
Abbotshall 1042699 1042251 103825,
index to streets on 104116
103986 see Kirkcaldy see Kirkcaldy
(Data provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints)

Further information on the main Fife page.




Church History

Only the Abbotshall Parish Church and the Abbotshall Free Church are considered here. Other churches are listed on the Kirkcaldy and Dysart pages.

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

  • There is a minister of the Established Church and a person who preaches to a small Cameronian meeting.
  • The number of the Established Church - 1338
  • The number of Seceders - 798.

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

  • There is 1 dissenting or Seceding chapel, now in connection with the United Associate Synod.
  • Till lately there existed a remnant of that old sect of Christians, the Cameronians, or Mountaineers as they were sometimes termed. The barn in which they assembled is now occupied by a handful of individuals who call themselves Christians, but what their particular tenets are, the writer of this account has not been able to learn. [A note at the end says that in 1836 the congregation is now dispersed.]
  • There are some Baptists and some Independents, and also a few Episcopalians who have their place of worship in Kirkcaldy.
  • A very few individuals attend a Relief meeting at Dysart, and it is believed there are 2 or 3 individuals of the Roman Catholic persuasion, natives of the sister isle.

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:

An authoritative book is Kirkcaldy's Churches, 1999, Kirkcaldy Civic Society, ISBN 0946294178, available from Fife Family History Society. The much briefer historical notes below were provided by the Scottish Archive Network (SCAN).

  • Abbotshall Kirk Session:
The kirk session of Abbotshall was first formed in 1650 when it was disjoined from the parish of Kirkcaldy. Ministry at Abbotshall is recorded from the same year in the person of Patrick Wemyss. The name of the new parish was derived from the fact that one of the Abbots of Dunfermline was reputed to have built a summer house on the site where the church now stands. Kirkcaldy Abbotshall was united with Kirkcaldy Raith in 1962 under the name of Kirkcaldy Abbotshall. Abbotshall Kirk Session sits within the Presbytery of Kirkcaldy and formerly the Synod of Fife.
  • Abbotshall Free and United Free Church:

Kirkcaldy, Abbotshall Free Church was formed at the Disruption, when the minister and a large part of the congregation adhered to the free Church. It passed successively to the United Free Church and the Church of Scotland, in the latter case as Kirkcaldy Abbotsrood Hayfield. The church was later sold and a hall-church provided by the Church Extension Scheme (dedicated 1950). It united with Kirkcaldy Dunnikier under that name in 1967. The Church of Scotland charge was in the presbytery of Kirkcaldy and the synod of Fife.


Church Records

Data provided by the  Scottish Archive Network (SCAN)

Only the Abbotshall Parish Church and the Abbotshall Free Church are considered here. Other churches are listed on the Kirkcaldy page.

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: 399

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

Abbotshall OPR Births / baptisms Proclamations / marriages Deaths / burials / mortcloths
399/1a 1650-1691 1651-1691  
399/1b 1692-1711 1692-1712  
399/2 1710-1785 1710-1744  
399/3 1785-1819 1741-1819  
399/4 1820-1854 (+ index) 1820-1855 (+ index)  
399/5     1750-1806
399/6     1806-1843
399/7     1818-1850
399/8     1851-1860
(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.  Only one entry Oct. 1662 - Feb. 1664. Record, 1692 - 1705, tabulated. Irregular entries about 1763, and 11 leaves at end of Record for 1806, containing such entries, dated 1784 - 1808; they are also of frequent occurrence after 1807.
M.  From 1710 - 1744 the entries occur among B. for same period. Separate Record of M., however, recommences June 1741. Blank June 1762 - Jan. 1764. After Record for 1806, are four leaves containing 'Clandestine Marriages', 1784 - 1807.
[Vol 399/1b contains handwriting samples on fly-leaf. Vol. 399/4 contains an index to B. 1841 - 1855 (surname followed by forename of child), and an index to M. 1843 - 1855 (both parties' surnames, bridegroom's first).]
[Subsequent to publication of the Detailed List, the 4 volumes with Death records were added (399/5, 399/6, 399/7, 399/8).]

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:

1040142 Items 2 - 4 Baptisms, 1650-1819; Marriages, 1650-1743, 1741-1762.
1040143 Items 1 - 5 Marriages, 1764-1819; Burials, 1750-1843, 1818-1832, 1843-1860.
993525 Baptisms and Index, 1816-1855; Misc. church notes; Marriages and Index, 1819-1855.
(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 (CH2/225) are at the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh.

Heritors' Records (HR237) are at the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh.

At the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh:

  • CH2/225
    Abbotshall Kirk Session
    Minutes, 1650-1660, 1764-1789 and 1793-1939; Accounts, 1710-1731, 1758-1765, 1769-1845, 1923-1935 and 1938-1946; Minutes of Bible Society, 1823-1831; Book of Correspondence, 1847-1856; Minute book of Weaver's Loft; Baptisms, 1887-1911; Proclamations, 1855-1961; Seat Rent Accounts, 1912-1932; Communion Roll, 1931-1955; Minute book of Churchyard Committee, 1926-1951; Churchyard Accounts, 1871-1900 and 1938-1953; Churchyard burial certificate book, 1924-1947 and 1952-1953; Women's Guild minutes, 1924-1951; Women's Guild. List of members, 1925-1926, 1947-1948 and 1951-1954.

    An index of names and a partial transcription of the Kirk Session Minutes for 1793 - 1812 has been published by the Fife Family History Society in their Publication 21.

  • HR/237
    Abbotshall parish heritors' records
    Minutes, 1876-1928; Accounts, 1876-1928.

Other Churches:

Only the Abbotshall Free Church is considered here. All other churches are listed on the Kirkcaldy and Dysart pages.

At the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh:

  • CH3/1142
    Abbotshall Free Church, United Free
    Minutes, 1843-1901; Deacons' court minutes, 1882-1914; Baptismal register, 1876-1887; Communion roll, 1878-1928; Accounts, 1887-1910.

The Abbotshall 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
Abbotshall (landward) 399 1855 1874
Kirkcaldy and Abbotshall 442 1875 1919
Kirkcaldy 442 1920 1971
Kirkcaldy 421 1972 2002
Fife 421 2003  

Registration districts did not necessarily coincide exactly with parishes. In the 20th century especially, there were frequent changes in registration districts. Some parts of Abbotshall parish were in Kirkcaldy registration district until 1874, thereafter the whole of Abbotshall is included in Kirkcaldy registration district.


Description & Travel

Abbotshall church Ordnance Survey Grid Reference GPS Post code Lat. 56°6'34"N
NT 274913 56.108921
KY2 5PE Lon. 3°10'10"W

Surrounding parishes: Kinghorn, Auchtertool, Auchterderran, Kirkcaldy.

Kirkcaldy Civic Society provide lots of information about the town.

You can see pictures of Abbotshall which are provided by:



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.



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.

  • David Webster's Topographical Dictionary of Scotland, published 1819, online at Google Books.
  • Fullarton's Topographical, Statistical and Historical Gazetteer of Scotland, published 1842, online at Google Books.
  • Samuel Lewis's Topographical Dictionary of Scotland, published 1846, online at British History Online.
  • Barbieri's Descriptive and Historical Gazetteer of the Counties of Fife, Kinross and Clackmannan, published 1857, is at Google Books.
  • Frances Groome's Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland (1882-4) and John Bartholomew's Gazetteer of the British Isles (1887), are on A Vision of Britain (click on "Historical places and writing").
  • Frances Groome's Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland(1892-6) on Electric Scotland

Historical Geography

On 15th May 1891, two detached parts of Abbotshall (both surrounded by Kirkcaldy parish) were transferred to Kirkcaldy parish. They comprised the following subjects: Smeaton, Smeaton Row and part of East Smeaton Farm.

In 1901, the parishes of Kirkcaldy, Dysart and Abbotshall, and part of the parish of Kinghorn, were united to form the parish of Kirkcaldy and Dysart.

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

You can see the administrative areas in which Abbotshall has been placed at times in the past. Select one to see a link to a map of that particular area.


Land & 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:

  • On-line maps:
  • Paper maps:
    • Ordnance Survey Landranger (scale 1:50000 -  about 1 inch to 1 mile) sheets 58 - Perth & Alloa, 59 - St Andrews
    • Ordnance Survey Explorer (larger scale 1:25000 -  about 2 and a half inches to 1 mile) sheet 367 - Dunfermline, Kirkcaldy & Glenrothes south

You can see maps centred on OS grid reference NT261918 (Lat/Lon: 56.112781, -3.18921), Abbotshall which are provided by:


Military History

The Register of the Fife Fallen in the Great War, vol 1:Kirkcaldy & Dysart Fallen, 1914-1919 has been published and is available from the Fife Family History Society and the Tay Valley Family History Society.



Andrew Campbell has produced Fife Deaths from Newspapers 1822-1854 - a compilation of deaths recorded in local newspapers. Copies of this index are held by the Fife libraries and the Family History Societies.

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, 29.



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.

At the Kirkcaldy Galleries, Kirkcaldy, Fife KY1 1YG:

  • Incorporation of Tailors of Linktown of Abbotshall
    Minute book, c.1700-1722; account book, 1721-1845; miscellaneous papers, accounts etc

Poor Houses, Poor Law

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.

Peter Higginbotham's website has a lot of information about Kirkcaldy combination poorhouse.



Year Population  
1755 1348  
1801 2501  
1851 5030  
1901 7733  * boundary changed
1951 no separate figures  

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 Abbotshall 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, Cupar Sheriff Court and Kirkcaldy Burgh Register of Deeds.


Public Records

Parochial Boards and their successors, Parish Councils, administered many local functions including poor relief.

At the Fife Council Archive Centre, Kirkcaldy:

  • B/Kdy
    Abbotshall Parochial Board
    Minutes and letter books, 1846-1901


School Board records and / or school logbooks are held at the Fife Council Archive Centre. Abbotshall records:

At the Fife Council Archive Centre, Kirkcaldy:

  • Abbotshall Public School
    Log books, 1891-1916.
  • Abbotshall Infants School
    Log books, 1891-1934.
  • Chapel Primary School
    Log books, 1863-1963.
  • Abbotshall Public School
    Log books, 1891-1916.
  • Abbotshall School Board
    Minute Books 1873-1919.

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
Kirkcaldy (Landward & Abbotshall) Chapel 149 106


"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 (search under Kirkcaldy).

See also the Early Taxation Records page.