Description of the parish in 1857

"Beath parish is 4 miles long by 3 miles broad. It is bounded on the north by Cleish, on the east by Ballingry, on the south & west by Auchtertool, Dalgetty & Dunfermline. Its area is 6800 acres, of which 5270 are under cultivation, 516 are under pasture and 530 are wooded. The Hill of Beath commands an extensive and fine view. To the north west is Loch Fitty, about 3 miles in circumference, which containes pike and perch. The bridges in the parish are all in good repair. The average rent of land is £1 per acre. The farms produce oats, barley, a little wheat, pease, beans, potatoes, turnips and meadow hay. There are 3 collieries, although only one, at Kelty, is wrought at present. There is a parish church, and a Free Church at Kelty. There is only 1 school in the parish, with 26 on the roll in 1849. There are 4 public houses and 1 inn. The nearest market towns are Dunfermline and Kinross, each nearly 6 miles distant. The Great North Road from Queensferry to Kinross and Perth intersects the parish from south-west to north-east. There are 2 small villages: Kelty and Oakfield. " from A Descriptive & historic gazeteer of the counties of Fife, Kinross & Clackmannan by M Barbieri, published 1857.


The parish includes Cowdenbeath, Hill of Beath and Kelty.


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 Beath in Mercer's History of Dunfermline, published 1828, is at Google Books.

Old Cowdenbeath and Old Kelty (Stenlake Publishing) contain many photographs and full descriptions.



Beath Cemetery / Churchyard, Old Perth Road, Cowdenbeath (grid ref. NT 152922, GPS: 56.114071 -3.364199):

  • 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.
  • The current lair registers (dating from 1859) are administered by Fife Council, Bereavement Services West, Dunfermline Crematorium, Masterton Road, Dunfermline,KY11 8QR. Tel. 01383 602335. Fax 01383 602665.


Parish / district reference number for 1841 - 1901 censuses: 410

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
Beath 1042699 1042253 103825 103987 203517 208748
(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 at Beath, other churches included Free Churches at Cowdenbeath, Kelty and Lassodie, United Presbyterian Churches at Cowdenbeath and Kelty, and a Church of Scotland at Kelty.

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

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

  • Nearly 200, old and young, are Burgher Seceders, the only description of Dissenters in the parish. Their number has greatly diminished within the past 20 years.

The 1865 Ecclesiastical Directory lists the parish church, and the Free Church at Kelty.

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

Details of church history:

  • Beath Kirk Session:
The Church of Beath was granted to the Abbey of Inchcolm prior to year 1178 and was subsequently annexed to Dalgety. Beath sustained an attachment to Dalgety after the reformation and up to the year 1611, when the church of Dalgety and the church of Beath were united to Aberdour. This arrangement however did not prove satisfactory and the union with Aberdour lasted only until 1643, when Beath was disjoined and re-erected as a separate parish. The parish church of Beath had been rebuilt in 1640, three years prior to the disjunction. In 1962 Beath was linked with the charge of Cowdenbeath Guthrie Memorial. This arrangement continued after the 1972 union of Cowdenbeath Guthrie Memorial and Lumphinnans, who were united under the name of Cowdenbeath North, and in 1998 Beath and Cowdenbeath North united together to form the charge of Beath and Cowdenbeath North. The Kirk Session sat within the Presbytery of Dunfermline, later of Dunfermline and Kinross and, following the restructuring of the Presbyteries in 1976, it became part of the Presbytery of Dunfermline once again.
  • Lumphinnans Free Church Kirk Session (united with Guthrie Memorial to form Cowdenbeath North, later North and Kirk of Beath)
see under Ballingry
  • Cowdenbeath Free Church (later Guthrie Memorial, United Free and Church of Scotland):
Cowdenbeath Free Church was established as a station in 1856. The church was opened in 1863, but replaced in 1891, the year the charge was finally sanctioned. It passed successively to the United Free Church, as Cowdenbeath Guthrie, and to the Church of Scotland, as Cowdenbeath Guthrie Memorial, which was first reduced in status, in 1945, linked with Beath in 1962, and united with Lumphinnans in 1972 as Cowdenbeath North. The Church of Scotland charge was in the presbytery of Dunfermline and Kinross and the synod of Fife.
  • Cowdenbeath United Presbyterian Church (later United Free, Cairns Church of Scotland):
Cowdenbeath United Presbyterian Church began in 1883 under Dunfermline presbytery, in what was then a large mining village. A church building was opened in 1884. It transferred to the United Free Church, as Cowdenbeath Cairns, and subsequently to the Church of Scotland. The Church of Scotland charge was in the presbytery of Dunfermline and Kinross and the synod of Fife.
  • Cowdenbeath West Kirk Session:
The churches of Cowdenbeath West, Cairns and Mossgreen Crossgates united in November 1998 to form Cowdenbeath Trinity Church.
  • Mossgreen
see under Dalgety
  • Crossgates
see under Dunfermline
  • Kelty Oakfield Kirk Session:
The parish of Kelty was erected in 1925 when it was disjoined from that of Beath, a mission chapel, which became the parish church, had been built here a number of years prior in 1894 . Following the union of the Church of Scotland and the United Free Church in 1929, Kelty parish church became termed Kelty Oakfield and in 1974 Kelty Oakfield was united with the congregation of Kelty North, under the name of Kelty once more. The kirk session, which remains active today, presently sits within the Presbytery of Dunfermline.
  • Kelty Free Church, (later Kelty North, Moray United Free, and Church of Scotland):
Kelty Free Church was formed at the Disruption, when the minister of Cleish and many of his congregation adhered to the Free Church. A church was erected soon afterwards. It passed successively to the United Free Church, as Kelty Moray, and to the Church of Scotland, when Kelty North was formed by the union of Kelty Moray and Kelty Trinity. Kelty North in turn united with Kelty Oakfield as Kelty in 1974. The Church of Scotland charge was in the presbytery of Dunfermline and Kinross and the synod of Fife.
  • Kelty Trinity United Presbyterian Church (later Trinity United Free and Church of Scotland Kelty North):
Kelty, Trinity United Presbyterian Church was opened as a mission station by Dunfermline Presbytery in 1894, in what was then a mining village north of Cowdenbeath. The first minister was ordained in 1898. It passed successively to the United Free Church, as Kelty Trinity, and to the Church of Scotland, as Kelty North, a union of Kelty Moray and Kelty Trinity. Kelty North united with Kelty Oakfield as Kelty in 1974. The Church of Scotland charge was in the presbytery of Dunfermline and Kinross and the synod of Fife.
  • Lassodie Free Church (later United Free and Church of Scotland):
The congregation of Lassodie Free Church was established in 1866 as a mission station to serve the needs of the growing mining population of Lassodie. The church was erected in 1869 and the charge was later sanctioned in 1874. Lassodie F.C. originally sat within the Presbytery of Kinross but was transferred in 1881, at the request of the minister, to that of Dunfermline. In 1900, upon the union of the Free Church and the United Presbyterians, Lassodie Free Church was renamed Lassodie United Free Church and following the 1900 union between the United Free Church and the Church of Scotland, Lassodie U.F. became Lassodie Church of Scotland. A union was established with the session of Kingseat in 1930 and the charge was reduced to the status of a mission station, which was later attached in 1933 to the congregation of Dunfermline Townhill.

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: 410

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

Beath OPR Births / baptisms Proclamations / marriages Deaths / burials / mortcloths
410/1 1643-1819 1643-1819 1802-1819
410/2 1820-1854 1820-1854 1820-1852
(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 April 1649 - Feb. 1676, May 1683 - Jan. 1686, and Aug. 1714 - Feb. 1718.
M.  Prior to 1649, entries among B. for same period. Blank May 1649 - Nov. 1673, from which date to 1678, only entries of Contracts. Blank Oct. 1678 - May 1692, June 1714 - Jan. 1720, and Aug. 1794 - Jan. 1796. No entry for 1805 nor 1815. After 1775, entries of Clandestine Marriages (chiefly celebrated at Edinburgh) not unfrequent.
D.  (Burials.)

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:

1040150 Items 2 - 3 Session book (includes Baptisms and Marriage proclamations) 1643-1649; Baptisms 1676-1854; Session book (includes Marriage proclamations) 1673-1678; Marriages 1692-1861; Burials 1802-1852.
(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. Some Kirk Session material is to be found in the OPR records (410/1).

Heritors' Records (HR56) are at the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh.

At the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh:

  • CH2/1059
    Beath Kirk Session
    Accounts, 1871-1906; Woman's guild minutes, 1940-1950; Proclamations, 1861-1878 and 1884-1963; Communion roll, 1841-1850 and 1871-1954; Minutes, 1691-1731 and 1822-1974; Miscellaneous papers, 20th cent; Cash book, 1948-1968; FWO Treasurer's cash book, 1968 and 1971-1975.

Included in the Old Parochial Registers on microfilm and at the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh but not online:

  • Beath Kirk Session
    Minutes, 1643-1649.

At the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh:

  • HR/56
    Beath parish heritors' records
    Minutes including cash book, 1834-1928; Papers relating to transference to Church of Scotland, 1926-1929; Correspondence, 1873-1927; Miscellaneous, 1871-1924.

Other Churches:

At the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh:

  • CH3/837
    Cowdenbeath Free Church (later Guthrie Memorial, United Free and Church of Scotland):
    Minutes, 1864-1914, 1927-1972; Deacons' court minutes, 1867-1917, 1923-1972; Managers' minutes, 1856-1867; Baptismal register, 1864-1882, 1917-1972; Communion roll, 1856-1884, 1890-1897, 1929-1936, 1951-1972; WFO accounts, 1936-1945; Gospel Temperance Society roll, 1890-1908; Ladies' work party cash book, 1925-1943; Property register, 1956-1972, nd; Certificates of transference, 1965-1972; Financial statistics, 1937-1971; Accounts, 1962-1972; Miscellaneous, 20th century.
  • CH3/1158
    Cowdenbeath United Presbyterian Church (later United Free, Cairns Church of Scotland):
    Minutes, 1886-1948, 1959-1971; Managers' and congregational minutes, 1886-1911; Managers' minutes, 1912-1950; Congregational board minutes, 1950-1957; Baptisms, 1886-1963; Communion roll, 1886-1903; Jubilee Book, 1886-1936.
  • CH2/1583
    Cowdenbeath West Kirk Session
    Cowdenbeath kirk session Minute book, 1915-1956; Cowdenbeath West kirk session Minute book, 1956-1975; Cowdenbeath West - Congregational board minutes, 1951-1970, 1970-1998 (closed); Cowdenbeath Chapel of Ease - Record of balance sheets, 1898-1961; Cowdenbeath West - Communicants roll book, 1936-1949, 1950-1954, 1965-1984; Cowdenbeath West - Birth and baptismal register, 1955-1998.
  • CH2/1385
    Kelty Oakfield Kirk Session
    Minutes, 1956-1974; Congregational board minutes, 1962-1985; Cartulary, 1924-1925; Cash book, 1913-1925 and 1929-1971; W.F.O. cashbook, 1941-1973; Baptismal register, 1897-1974; Proclamation register, 1951-1978; Communion roll, 1904-1931 and 1941-1979; Manager's minutes, 1896-1954; Accounts, 1896-1928; Social committee minutes, 1951-1972.
  • CH3/1377
    Kelty Free Church, (later Kelty North, Moray United Free, and Church of Scotland):
    Minutes, 1844-1941; Congregational board minutes, 1956-1964; Accounts, 1915-1951; WFO cash books, 1953-1954; Baptisms, 1910-1929; Communion rolls, 1911-1916, 1919-1928; Supplementary roll, 1959-1971; Correspondence and miscellanea, 20th cent.
  • CH3/1368
    Kelty Trinity United Presbyterian Church (later Trinity United Free and Church of Scotland Kelty North):
    Minutes, 1950-1974; Managers' minutes, 1895-1911; Congregational board minutes, 1964-1974; Baptisms, 1901-1974; Marriages, 1932-1974; Communion rolls, 1916-1929, 1932-1964.
  • CH3/205
    Lassodie Free Church (later United Free and Church of Scotland):
    Session minutes, 1889-1930 (with Baptisms, 1918-1930).

At the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, USA, but available on microfilm at LDS Family History Centres around the world:

  • Microfilm no. 104150 Item 5
    Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Cowdenbeath Branch
    Record of members, early - 1883.
  • Microfilm no. 104155 Item 4
    Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Kelty Branch
    Record of members, 1880-1883.

The Beath 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
Beath 410 1855 1910
Cowdenbeath 410/1 1911 1971
Cowdenbeath 430 1972 2002
Fife 430 2003  
Kelty 410/2 1911 1971
Kelty 428 1972 2002
Fife 428 2003  

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


Description & Travel

Cowdenbeath town centre Ordnance Survey Grid Reference GPS Post code Lat. 56°6'46"N
NT 165919 56.112528
KY4 9QE Lon. 3°20'40"W

Surrounding parishes: Cleish (Kinross-shire), Ballingry, Auchterderran, Auchtertool, Aberdour, Dunfermline.

You can see pictures of Beath which are provided by:



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

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

You can see the administrative areas in which Beath 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.

Valuation rolls:

At the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh:

  • VR101
    Valuation Rolls: Fife

At the Fife Council Archive Centre, Kirkcaldy:

  • B/Cow
    Cowdenbeath Burgh Records
    Assessment rolls, 1890-1974.


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, 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 NT136922 (Lat/Lon: 56.114885, -3.390399), Beath which are provided by:



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.

The Scottish Mining website has extensive information about mining in Fife in general and in this parish in particular.


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 1099
1801 613
1851 1252
1901 15812
1951 22641

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 Beath 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 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/6/10
    Beath Parochial Board / Parish Council
    Minute books, 1845-1930; Cash book, 1868-1890; Chartulary, 1849-1962.


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

At the Fife Council Archive Centre, Kirkcaldy:

  • Broad Street School
    Log books, 1876-1944.
  • Broad Street Infants School
    Log books, 1876-1904, 1959-1969.
  • Foulford School
    Log books, 1921-1929; admission registers, 1896-1975.
  • Foulford Infants School
    Log books, 1896-1921.
  • Mosside School
    Log books, 1922-1944.
  • Cowdenbeath Public School
    Log books, 1944-1958.
  • St Bride's Roman Catholic Primary School
    Log books, 1904-1992; admission register, 1904-1966..
  • Hill of Beath School
    Log books, 1890-1978.
  • Kelty Infants School
    Log books, 1875-1974.
  • Oakfield Special Needs School
    Log books, 1915-1927.
  • Oakfield School
    Log books, 1915-1923
  • Oakfield Intermediate Technical School
    Log books, 1923-1947.
  • Oakfield Junior Secondary School
    Log books, 1947-1964.
  • Kelty Public School
    Log books, 1874-1925.
  • Kelty Public Evening Continuation School
    Log books, 1894-1924
  • St Joseph's Roman Catholic School
    Log books, 1956-1996; admission registers, 1914-2002.
  • Lassodie School
    Log books, 1877-1940.
  • Lassodie School Junior Department
    Log books, 1878-1926.
  • Lassodie Evening Classes
    Log books, 1894-1922.
  • Beath 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
Beath Cowdenbeath 973 858
Kelty 349 326
Lassodie 277 170


"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:

  • B/Cow
    Cowdenbeath Burgh records
    Town Council minutes, 1974-1975; Beath Local Authority minute book, 1868-1877; town clerk's letter books, 1939-1965; town council account books, 1891-1975; assessment rolls, 1890-1974; Burgh court case registers, 1891-1965, licensing registers, 1909-1974 (with gaps); Dean of Guild court registers of plans, 1915-1964.

At the Local History Department, Dunfermline Carnegie Library:

  • Cowdenbeath Town Council
    Minute books and related records, 1890-1975.