Description of the parish in 1852

"The parish of Kemback is nearly of triangular figure, with its broadest side to the Eden, and measures about three and a half miles in breadth and length. It is one of the richest and most beautiful districts in the country; out of 1850 acres more than 1500 are fine arable land, and there are many fine plantations in different parts of the parish. Besides the Eden it is watered by the Ceres stream. The church stands about a mile and a half from Ceres village and three from Cupar." from Slater's Directory, published in 1852


The parish includes Blebo Craigs, Dura Den, Kemback, and part of Pitscottie (the rest is in Ceres).


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.

Maurice Milne, Session Clerk, has written an excellent short history of the parish.



Kemback Churchyard / Cemetery (grid ref. NO 417151, GPS: 56.325399 -2.942915):

  • The pre-1855 monumental inscriptions 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
  • The current lair registers (dating from 1928) are administered by Fife Council, Bereavement Services East, County Buildings, St Catherine Street, Cupar, KY15 4TA. Tel. 01334 659336. Fax 01334 412896.
  • A CD with photographs of the stones and transcriptions is available from Scottish Monumental Inscriptions or from The Parish Chest.


Parish / district reference number for 1841 - 1901 censuses: 433

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.

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
Kemback 1042702 1042267 103829 103992 203523 208757
(Data provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints)

Further information on the main Fife page.




Church History

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

  • Belonging to the Established Church - 540
  • Burgher Seceders - 13
  • Antiburgher Seceders - 28
  • Of the Presbytery of Relief - 3
  • Episcopalian - 1
  • Anabaptist - 1
  • Unitarians - 2

The New Statistical Account (written in 1843) makes no mention of dissenters.

The 1865 Ecclesiastical Directory lists only the parish church.

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

Details of church history:

  • Kemback Church
    The old church of Kemback, which was rebuilt in 1583 and again in 1814, was founded as a rectory by Bishop de Bernham in 1244 and in 1458 the church was gifted to the College of St Salvator. In 1970 Kemback established a link with Dairsie and in 1980 a further link followed with Strathkinness. The kirk session sat within the Presbytery of St Andrews, later of Cupar and, following the restructuring of the Presbyteries in 1976, it became part of the Presbytery of St Andrew's once again.

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: 433

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

Kemback OPR Births / baptisms Proclamations / marriages Deaths / burials / mortcloths
433/1 1649-1819 1648-1819 1700-1819
433/2 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.  and M.  intermixed till 1678. Both blank March 1650 - March 1657.
B.  blank Dec. 1678 - Oct. 1700, and (exc. one entry) Jan. 1704 - July 1735. Irregular 1792 - 1798. Mothers' names not recorded till Oct. 1700.
M.  blank 1678 - Dec. 1700 and Dec. 1703 - Oct. 1783. After last mentioned date the Record is one of Contracts.
D.  (Burials) blank Nov. 1703 - June 1736, Oct. 1736 - March 1738, and (exc. four entries) Dec. 1738 - March 1754, also July 1797 - March 1799.

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:

1040112 Items 4 - 5 Baptisms, 1648-1677, 1700-1704, 1732-1854; Marriages, 1648-1677, 1700-1703, 1783-1854; Burials, 170-1703, 1736-1738, 1750-1854.
(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.

Some of the OPR entries can be searched on the FreeREG site.

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 (HR471) 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:

  • CH2/204
    Kemback Kirk Session
    Minutes, 1657-1665, 1677-1678, 1700-1835 and 1844-1847; Parochial board minutes, 1845-1875.

At the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh:

  • HR/471
    Kemback parish heritors' records
    Minutes, 1844-1927; Accounts, 1844-1927; Papers relating to buildings, 1908-1927; Papers relating to transference to Church of Scotland, 1927; Correspondence, 1925-1928; Papers relating to Kemback New Cemetery, 1927.

Other Churches:

The Kemback 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
Kemback 433 1855 1930
Cupar 420 1931 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 & Travel

Kemback church Ordnance Survey Grid Reference GPS Post code Lat. 56°19'29"N
NO 419151 56.324707
KY15 5TS Lon. 2°56'28"W

Surrounding parishes: Dairsie, Ceres, St Andrews, Cupar, Leuchars.

You can see pictures of Kemback 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.
  • 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 Kemback 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:

You can see maps centred on OS grid reference NO417148 (Lat/Lon: 56.321829, -2.944696), Kemback which are provided by:


Military History

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, 28.



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

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 and the Special Collections Dept. of St Andrews University Library. See Public Records below.



Year Population
1755 420
1801 626
1851 956
1901 412
1951 464

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 Kemback 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/6/30
    Kemback Parochial Board / Parish Council
    Minute books, 1863-1930.

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

  • CH2/204
    Parochial board minutes, 1845-1875.


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

At the Fife Council Archive Centre, Kirkcaldy:

  • Kemback School
    Log books, 1897-2004; Admissions Registers, 1929-2004; School Board Minutes 1872-1919.

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
Kemback Kemback 188 120


"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.