Description of the parish in 1862

"Aberdour parish extends about 3 miles along the Firth of Forth and is about 3 miles from north - south. It is bounded by Dalgetty, Dunfermline, Burntisland and Auchtertool. The island of Inchcolm belongs to this parish. There is a harbour which admits vessels of 200 tons burden. Though not large, as many as 25 vessels have been crowded into it at one time. The main export is coal (150000 tons per year). Imports are small, chiefly manure. Aberdour is not a parish where much business is carried on, though coarse cloth is manufactured to some extent; red sandstone, coal & lime are wrought extensively, and there is a sawmill. But it is as a bathing resort for summer visitors that Aberdour is best known. As it has daily communication by steam with Edinburgh, its shores are a favourite retreat to the inhabitants of the Scottish capital during the heats of summer." edited from Westwood's Directory for the counties of Fife & Kinross published 1862.


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.

There is a chapter about Aberdour in Mercer's History of Dunfermline, published 1828, is at Google Books.

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



There are 2 cemeteries in Aberdour parish:

1. Aberdour St Fillans Churchyard, Hawkcraig Road, Aberdour (grid ref. NT 193854, GPS: 56.055149 -3.29665):

  • The pre-1855 monumental inscriptions are listed in Fifeshire Monumental Inscriptions (pre-1855) vol. 2 The western parishes by John Fowler Mitchell & Sheila Mitchell, published by the Scottish Genealogy Society. ISBN 0901061972
  • Transcripts of many of the older stones were made by Erskine Beveridge in the 1890s. They are included in Publication 37, Monumental Notes by Erskine Beveridge and Robert Monteith, published by the Fife Family History Society.
  • A CD with photographs of the stones and transcriptions is available from Scottish Monumental Inscriptions or from The Parish Chest.

2. Aberdour Cemetery, off Mill Farm Road, Aberdour (grid ref. NT 188853, GPS: 56.05421 -3.30364):

  • The pre-1855 monumental inscriptions are listed as 'Aberdour Wester Cemetery' in Fifeshire Monumental Inscriptions (pre-1855) vol. 2 The western parishes by John Fowler Mitchell & Sheila Mitchell, published by the Scottish Genealogy Society. ISBN 0901061972
  • The current lair registers (dating from 1930) are administered by Fife Council, Bereavement Services West, Dunfermline Crematorium, Masterton Road, Dunfermline,KY11 8QR. Tel. 01383 602335. Fax 01383 602665.
  • A CD with photographs of the stones and transcriptions is available from Scottish Monumental Inscriptions or from The Parish Chest.

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: 401

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
Aberdour 1042699 1042252 103825 103986 203516 208746
(Data provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints)

Further information on the main Fife page.


Church History

In addition to the parish church, there was also a Free Church and an Episcopal Church.

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

  • The whole population is of the Established Church except 263 Seceders.

The New Statistical Account (written in 1843) gives this information:

  • Number of families belonging to the Established Church - about 357
  • Dissenting or Seceding families - about 70, a great proportion of which occasionally attend the parish church.
  • Episcopalian families - 1
  • Roman Catholic families - 1

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

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

Details of church history:

  • Aberdour Kirk Session (St Fillan's):

The church was first recorded as being associated with St Fillan in 1390 and belonged originally to the Abbey of Inchcolm. After the Reformation the first reader was recorded in 1567. In the 15th century the church was enlarged by the addition of a south aisle. Further changes including the addition of the belfry were made in the 16th and 17th centuries. In about 1640 the Earl of Morton, owner of Aberdour Castle, erected a family gallery. In the early 1700s a dispute over the occupancy of the ministry arose on the death of the incumbent when the Earl of Morton imposed his choice against the wishes of the population. The result was the mass exodus of the congregation to neighbouring parish churches. In 1790 St Fillan's Church fell into disuse and by 1796 was a roofless ruin. An alternative parish church was built at the west end of Aberdour St Colme's. Due to fund raising and commitment of local people who raised the finance needed to start restoration of the ruined church in 1925, the church now serves Aberdour parish again. This work included the removal of a large tree growing in the chancel arch. The restored St Fillan's held its first service on 7 July 1926. In 1940 it was united with St Colme's and Dalgety after which the manses of Dalgety and St Colme's were sold.

  • Aberdour Free Church (St Colme's):

Aberdour Free Church was formed immediately at the Disruption and a church and manse erected. It passed successively to the United Free Church and the Church of Scotland, in the latter case as Aberdour St Colme's, which united with Aberdour St Fillan's and Dalgety in 1940 as Aberdour and Dalgety. The Church of Scotland charge was in the presbytery of Dunfermline and Kinross and the synod of Fife.

  • Aberdour Episcopal Church (St Columba):



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: 401

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

Aberdour OPR Births / baptisms Proclamations / marriages Deaths / burials / mortcloths
401/1 1663-1749 1650-1682
401/2 1749-1819 1749-1819 1790-1819
401/3 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.  blank Jan. 1689 - Feb. 1691. Mothers' names not regularly recorded till about 1763.
M.  only transcribed entries of Contracts, etc. prior to Dec. 1669; blank July 1682 - Oct. 1702.
D.  (Burials.) Exc. entries of Earl of Morton's family, 1739 - 1848, on one page after M. for1819, the Record is blank from Oct. 1669 - April 1790. Mortcloth Dues, 1790 - Dec. 1816, after which Deaths and Burials are recorded.

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:

1040144 Items 3 - 5 Baptisms, 1663-1854; Marriages, 1650-1682, 1702-1855; Burials, 1658-1676, 1817-1854; Mortcloth dues (burial records), 1790-1817.
(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 are held at the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh.

Heritors' Records (HR594) are at the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh.

At the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh:

  • CH2/3
    Aberdour Kirk Session (St Fillans)
    Minutes, 1649-1682, 1697-1930; Accounts, 1790-1866; Register of distribution to the poor, 1658-1676; Baptismal register, 1855-1940; Proclamation register, 1927-1972
  • HR/594
    Aberdour parish heritors' records
    Minutes, 1799-1926; Accounts, 1799-1927.

Other Churches:

At the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh:

  • CH3/784
    Aberdour Free, United Free, St Colme's Church of Scotland
    Minutes, 1844-1940; Committee minutes, 1843-1853; Deacons' court minutes, 1844-1940; Baptismal register, 1873-1939.

Records retained by the church:

  • The Episcopal Church in Aberdour (St Columba's) has registers which are still kept by the church. Those for the period before 1855 are listed below. A transcript of these entries has been published by the Fife Family History Society Baptismal Registers No. 5. It is also available on CD.
    Aberdour (St Columba) Baptisms Funerals
      1849-1854 (5 only) 1849-1854 (2 only)

The Aberdour 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
Aberdour 401 1855 1967
Aberdour 401 1968 1971
Aberdour 434 1972 1993
Inverkeithing 436 1994 2002
Fife 436 2003  

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


Court Records

Fife Family History Society have transcribed a list of Aberdour Jurors, 1851 on their Records pages.


Description & Travel

Aberdour town centre Ordnance Survey Grid Reference GPS Post code Lat. 56°3'12"N
NT 190852 56.052778
KY3 0SJ Lon. 3°18'3"W

The parish includes the island of Inchcolm.

Surrounding parishes: Dalgety, Dunfermline, Beath, Auchtertool, Kinghorn, Burntisland.

You can see pictures of Aberdour 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, a detached part of Aberdour parish was transferred to Kinghorn parish. The subjects transferred were Kilrie Farm (part) and Kilrie Gate.

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

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



Aberdour Castle is an Ancient Monument open to the public.


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) sheet 65 - Falkirk & Linlithgow
    • 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 NT181872 (Lat/Lon: 56.070241, -3.3179), Aberdour which are provided by:


Military History

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



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, 26.



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 National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh:

  • GD1/1176
    Aberdour Records
    Proceedings of the Incorporation of the Shipmasters' Box of Aberdour, including minutes of meetings, accounts, and record of payments of entry money, 1762 - 1830; Ledger of Reverend William Bryce, including record of payment of stipend, his income as annuitant on the Machermore Estate, quarterly payments of salary as one of the Deans of the Chapel Royal, notes of meetings of the Deans, account of garden produce of Aberdour manse, 1796 - 1832.

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 Dunfermline combination poorhouse.



Year Population  
1755 1198  
1801 1260  
1851 1945  
1901 1997  * boundary changed
1951 1943  

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 Aberdour may be found in either the Dunkeld Commissariot (CC7), 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 Dunfermline (SC21) 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:

  • FCC/6/2
    Aberdour Parochial Board / Parish Council
    Minute books, 1845-1930.


School Board records and / or school logbooks are held at theFife Council Archive Centre. Aberdour records:

At the Fife Council Archive Centre, Kirkcaldy:

  • Aberdour Primary School
    Log books, 1932-1967, 1984-1991.
  • Aberdour School Board
    Minutes, 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
Aberdour Aberdour 184 118
Donibristle Colliery 167 144


"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.