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Help and advice for Dairsie

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Description of the parish in 1852

"Dairsie is a parish and village - the latter a small one, situated on the main road from Cupar to Dundee, 3 miles from the former and 8 from the latter town. The river Eden, which intersects the parish, is crossed by a good bridge of 3 arches, erected by Archbishop Spottiswoode, who was the proprietor of the Dairsie estate. The church, which is in the Saxon style of architecture, and surmounted by a neat spire, was built at the commencement of the 17th century. Dairsie castle, now a ruin, is noted as having been the residence of Archbishop Sharp, as well as the place where a parliament was called upon to assemble in the year 1335. Chapelwell, in this parish, in high repute for the healing properties of its waters, is the site of a Roman Catholic chapel, of which no remains are visible. This parish is nearly 3 miles in extent each way; with little exception, the whole is fine arable land, and freestone and whinstone abound beneath its surface." from Slater's Directory published 1852.

Dairsie was sometimes formerly known as Osnaburgh.


Archives and 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.



Dairsie Cemetery and Churchyard, Dairsie Mains (south of the village - grid ref. NO 414161, GPS: 56.334123 -2.948639):

  • The pre-1855 monumental inscriptions for Dairsie Churchyard are listed in Fifeshire Monumental Inscriptions (pre-1855) vol. 3 The north east parishes by John Fowler Mitchell & Sheila Mitchell, published by the Scottish Genealogy Society. ISBN 0901061999
  • Another listing has been published by the Fife Family History Society in their Publication 15, Monumental Inscriptions.
  • Some stones are recorded in Graveyard Monuments in East, North and Central Fife, John di Folco, published in Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, 1969-70, vol. 102, pages 205-236, which deals largely with stones dated pre-1707. It can be downloaded from ARCHway.
  • The current lair registers (dating from 1924) are administered by Fife Council, Bereavement Services East, County Buildings, St Catherine Street, Cupar, KY15 4TA. Tel. 01334 659336. Fax 01334 412896.
  • War graves can be seen at the Scottish Wargraves Project and war memorials can be seen at the Scottish War Memorials Project.



The original 1841 census returns were lost in transit to Edinburgh.

Parish / district reference number for 1851 - 1901 censuses: 421

The 1851 return can be searched on the FreeCEN website.

The 1851 census has been indexed and published by the Tay Valley Family History Society.

The 1861 census has been indexed and can be downloaded here

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
Dairsie - 1042254 103827 103989 203519 208751
(Data provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints)

Further information on the main Fife page.


Presbyterian / Unitarian
Dairsie, Church of Scotland

You can also perform a more selective search for churches in the area or see them printed on a map.


Church History

In addition to the parish church, there was also a Free Church (later United Free) in Dairsie.

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

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

  • The number of Dissenting or Seceding families in the parish is about 12 or 15.

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:

  • Dairsie Church
    The church of Dairsie, which was rebuilt in 1615, was dedicated to St Mary and belonged prior to the reformation to the priory of St Andrews. At the union of the Church of Scotland and the United Free Church in 1929, Dairsie parish church united with the former United Free Church congregation of Dairsie. In 1970 a link was established with Kemback and a further linkage followed in 1980 with Strathkinness. The kirk session sat within the Presbytery of Cupar until the restructuring of the Presbyteries in 1976, when it became part of the Presbytery of St Andrews.
  • Dairsie Free Church / Dairsie & Guardbridge United Free Church
    At the disruption of 1843, the minister, and a substantial proportion of the congregation, of Dairsie Parish church adhered to the Free Church. In the beginning the Free Church of Dairsie had to worship in the open air, or within a joiner's shop, until a church was erected in October 1843; the church was later renovated in 1876. Following the union of the United Presbyterian Church and the Free Church of Scotland in 1900, Dairsie Free Church became Dairsie United Free Church and in 1914 Dairsie was united with the congregation of Dairsie Guardbridge, under the name of Dairsie and Guardbridge. This union however was dissolved in 1927 and Dairsie United Free Church was linked in the following year with Dairsie Parish Church. At the union of the Church of Scotland and the United Free Church in 1929, the parish church and the United Free Church of Dairsie were fully united. The united Kirk Session of Dairsie, which established a link in 1970 with Kemback and additionally in 1980 with Strathkinness, presently sits within the Presbytery of St Andrews.

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: 421

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

Dairsie OPR Births / baptisms Proclamations / marriages Deaths / burials / mortcloths
421/1 1645-1819 1666-1819 1727-1819
421/2 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 March 1656 - Jan. 1666, Dec. 1675 - Feb. 1699 (exc. two entries 1694 - 1695). Leaves of Record 1700 - 1708 much wasted, and many of the entries partially destroyed. Duplicate of Record 1727 - 1765, and a more modern transcript commencing Feb. 1705, which is continued after 1770 as the principal Register. Mothers' names not recorded till 1774.
M.  blank (exc. one entry for 1695) Nov. 1675 - Nov. 1727, Nov. 1749 - Jan. 1753, Nov. 1763 - Nov. 1783, Nov. 1794 - Nov. 1804. No entry for 1809. Blank Nov. 1812 - May 1815.
D.  (Burials.) Blank 1729 - 1734, Dec. 1739 - July 1744, Dec. 1753 - Sept. 1755, Nov. 1769 - Oct. 1783, Sept. 1794 - Feb. 1803.

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:

1040127 Items 1 - 2 Baptisms, 1645-1655, 1666-1675, 1694-1770, 1727-1765, 1705- 1854; Marriages, 1666-1675, 1695, 1705, 1714-1763, 1749-1769, 1783- 1794, 1804-1854; Mortcloth dues (burial records), 1744-1769; Burials, 1727-1739, 1749-1769, 1783-1794, 1803-1854.
(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.

Lists of Male Heads of Families, circa 1834, gathered as a result of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland's 1834 Veto Act have been transcribed for some parishes by Old Scottish Genealogy and Family History.

Further information on the main Fife page.

Kirk Session records are held at the Special Collections Dept. of St Andrews University Library, with digital copies at the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh.

Heritors' Records (HR175) are at the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh.

At the Special Collections Dept. of St Andrews University Library, with digital copies of the earlier volumes at the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh:

  • CH2/427
    Dairsie Kirk Session
    Minutes, 1648-1656, 1665-1676, 1701-1804 and 1837-1924; Collections and disbursements, 1704-1769 and 1772-1823; Heritor's records, 1779-1810; Parochial School Board minutes, 1860-1885; Scroll minutes and accounts, 1728-1773 and 1780-1813.

At the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh:

  • HR/175
    Dairsie parish heritors' records
    Minutes, 1825-1927; Cash book, 1879-1927; Accounts, 1860-1863; Papers relating to buildings, 1835-1902; Correspondence, 1851-1908, 1921-1932; Plans of church, 1815, 1902, undated.

Other Churches:

Records for other churches are held at the Special Collections Dept. of St Andrews University Library.

At the Special Collections Dept. of St Andrews University Library:

  • CH3/355
    Dairsie Free Church / Dairsie & Guardbridge United Free Church
    Session minutes, 1846-1915; Deacon's Court minutes, 1847-1899.

The Dairsie 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
Dairsie 421 1855 1967
Cupar 420 1968 1971
Cupar 417 1972 2002
Fife 417 2003  

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


Description and Travel

Dairsie village centre Ordnance Survey Grid Reference GPS Post code Lat. 56°20'40"N
NO 413174 56.345294
KY15 4SS Lon. 2°57'8"W

Surrounding parishes: Kemback, Cupar, Kilmany, Logie, Leuchars.

You can see pictures of Dairsie 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

Ask for a calculation of the distance from Dairsie to another place.

Click here for a list of nearby places.


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.


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, 27.



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.


Poor Houses, 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 469
1801 550
1851 708
1901 464
1951 492

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

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/6/22
    Dairsie Parochial Board / Parish Council
    Minute books, 1861-1930.


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

At the Fife Council Archive Centre, Kirkcaldy:

  • Dairsie Public School
    Log books 1891 - 1998; Admissions Registers 1954 - 1998; 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
Dairsie Dairsie 135 116


"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



At the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh:

  • GD26/7/307
    Hearth Tax - Dairsie parish

See also the Early Taxation Records page.