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Help and advice for Kilrenny

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Description of the parish in 1862

"Kilrenny parish, consisting of the inland burgh of Kilrenny and the fishing village of Cellardyke, extends along the Firth of Forth for 3.5 miles and inland for 2 miles. It is bounded by Crail, Carnbee and the 2 Anstruthers. Upper Kilrenny contains the parish church, while Nether Kilrenny (or Cellardyke) consist of one main street running along the shore as a continuation of Anstruther Wester and Easter. It is one of the most important fishing stations in the county. The Anstruther Free and UP Churches are both within this parish. " edited from Westwood's Directory for the counties of Fife & Kinross published 1862.

The parish includes Cellardyke and Kilrenny.


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.



Kilrenny Churchyard / Cemetery, Main Street, Kilrenny (grid ref. NO 575049, GPS: 56.234265 -2.687008):

  • The pre-1855 monumental inscriptions for Kilrenny 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
  • 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 1900) 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.
  • 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: 438. Part in 402 from 1861 (see Civil Registration).

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
Kilrenny 1042702 1042268 103829 103992 203524 208758
(Data provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints)

Further information on the main Fife page.


Presbyterian / Unitarian
Kilrenny, Church of Scotland

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


Church History

In addition to the parish church, there was a Church of Scotland in Cellardyke. Anstruther Free Church (later the Chalmers Memorial United Free Church) was situated in Kilrenny parish.

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 great bulk of the population attend the Established Church, with the exception of some Dissenters, not amounting to 100.
  • The average number of communicants [of the Established Church] for several years is upwards of 620.

The 1865 Ecclesiastical Directory lists the parish church, and the Free Church in Anstruther.

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

Details of church history:

  • Kilrenny Church:
The church of Kilrenny, which was rebuilt in 1806-1808, formerly belonged to the Abbey of Dryburgh and held a dedication to St Ernan of Eileach Naomh. The kirk session of Kilrenny, which established a link with Cellardyke in 1988, sits within the Presbytery of St Andrews.
  • Cellardyke Kirk Session:
The parish of Cellardyke, the parish church of which was dedicated in 1881, was disjoined from that of Kilrenny and erected quoad sacra on the 28th March, 1883. The kirk session, which established a link with Kilrenny in 1988, sits within the Presbytery of St Andrews.
  • Anstruther Free Church:
See the Anstruther Easter page.

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: 438

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

Kilrenny OPR Births / baptisms Proclamations / marriages Deaths / burials / mortcloths
438/1 1647-1783 1647-1783 1755-1782
438/2 1783-1819 1783-1819 1783-1819
438/3 1820-1854 1820-1854 1820-1854
Register of Neglected Entries 1845 (2 entries)    
(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 throughout. Leaves of Record prior to 1696 very much wasted, and many entries partially or entirely destroyed. Blank Nov. 1660 - Aug. 1677, Sept. 1680 - Nov. 1688; and circa 1696 - July 1712. Portion circa 1688 - 1696 very much wasted.
D.  Exc. a few entries of Burials, circa 1688 - 1696, among the B. and M., no Record till May 1753. No entries Nov. 1782 - Nov. 1783, from which date till Oct. 1791, D. recorded among the B. and M. Separate Record after Nov. 1791, in which particulars connected with the last illness of the deceased are frequently stated.
[The early portion of the B. and M. Register for Anstruther Wester contains entries for the neighbouring parishes of Abercrombie or St Monance, Kilrenny, and Pittenweem.]

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:

1040166 Items 3 - 5 Session book (includes baptisms, marriage proclamations), 1647- 1660, 1677-1696; Baptisms, Marriages, 1712-1854; Burials, 1754-1854; Neglected entries (2 baptisms), 1845.
(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 Special Collections Dept. of St Andrews University Library, with digital copies at the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh. Some Kirk Session material is to be found in the OPR records (438/1).

Heritors' Records (HR21) 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:

  • CH2/215
    Kilrenny Kirk Session
    Minutes, 1712-1939; Accounts, 1791-1819, 1830-1846 and 1861-1931; Decreet of modification and locality, 1823; Marriages, 1865-1872; Proclamations, 1872-1952; Seat rents, 1882-1898; Roll of communicants certified as electoral roll, 1878; Communion roll, 1875-1905.
  • CH2/1542
    Cellardyke Kirk Session
    Minutes, 1881-1933; Congregational board minutes, 1932-1989; Account book, 1881-1942.

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

  • 438/1
    Kilrenny Kirk Session
    Minutes 1648-60, 1677-79, 1680, 1688-c.1696.

At the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh:

  • HR/21
    Kilrenny parish heritors' records
    Minutes, 1761-1929; Accounts, 1761-1929; Papers relating to buildings, 1915-1925; Papers relating to transference to Church of Scotland, 1926-1929; Miscellaneous papers, 1861-1884; Plan of glebe, 1900.

Other Churches:

The Kilrenny 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
Kilrenny burgh 438/1 1855 1855
Kilrenny landward 438/2 1855 1855
Kilrenny 438 1856 1930
Anstruther and Kilrenny 402 1931 1967
East Neuk 426 1968 1971
East Neuk 414 1972 2002
Fife 414 2003  

Registration districts did not necessarily coincide exactly with parishes. In the 20th century especially, there were frequent changes in registration districts. Part of Kilrenny parish is in Anstruther Easter registration district.


Description and Travel

Kilrenny church Ordnance Survey Grid Reference GPS Post code Lat. 56°14'4"N
NO 576048 56.233844
KY10 3JJ Lon. 2°41'14"W

Surrounding parishes: Crail, Anstruther Easter, Anstruther Wester, Carnbee.

There is a useful Anstruther and Cellardyke website here.

You can see pictures of Kilrenny 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

Ask for a calculation of the distance from Kilrenny 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.

At the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh:

  • VR47
    Valuation Rolls: Kilrenny Burgh
    1855-1930; the Roll from 1930 is included in the Valuation Roll for the County of Fife
  • VR/101
    Valuation Rolls: County of Fife
    1855-1975, contains the landward (i.e. not burgh) part of the parish.

Military History

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



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 (for Cellardyke) and 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.

There is a series of articles about many Fife family businesses in Fife Family History Society's Journal, New Series 9.

Mariners of St Andrews and the East Neuk of Fife by David Dobson can be obtained from the Fife Family History Society or the Tay Valley Family History Society.


Poor Houses, Poor Law etc.

The relief of paupers after 1845 was carried out by theParochial Board and later by the Parish Council. Their records are at the Fife Council Archive Centre. See Public Records below.



Year Population
1755 1348
1801 1043
1851 2194
1901 2950
1951 2271

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 Kilrenny 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/6/35
    Kilrenny Parochial Board / Parish Council
    Minute books, 1847-1930.


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

At the Fife Council Archive Centre, Kirkcaldy:

  • Cellardyke Infant School
    Log books, 1888-1891.
  • Cellardyke Primary School
    Log books, 1878-1895, 1908-1966.
  • Kilrenny 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
Kilrenny Cellardyke 225 224
Cellardyke Infant School 238 173
Kilrenny Upper 147 93


"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.

At the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh:

  • E326
    Assessed Taxes Schedules 1748-1802
    Kilrenny Royal Burgh

See also the Early Taxation Records page.


Town Records

Towns were usually referred to as Burghs in Scotland.

Under the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1929 (19 & 20 Geo. V, c.25) , the Fife royal burghs of Anstruther Easter and Anstruther Wester and the burgh of Kilrenny were amalgamated to create the United Burghs of Kilrenny, Anstruther Easter and Anstruther Wester. The Kilrenny, Anstruther Easter and Anstruther Wester Town Council was abolished in 1975.

At the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh:

  • B/3
    Anstruther Easter and Wester and Kilrenny Burgh Records
    Burgh records, 1775-1953.

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

  • B/3
    Anstruther Easter, Anstruther Wester & Kilrenny burgh records
    Kilrenny: Town council minutes, 1613-1929; Police commissioners minutes, 1848-1893.
    United burgh: Town council minutes, 1929-1974; Charities' committee minutes and journal, 1944-1974; Assessment roll, 1974-1975; Abstracts of accounts, undated; Miscellaneous documents, undated.

At the Fife Council Archive Centre, Kirkcaldy:

  • B/An
    United Burghs of Kilrenny, Anstruther Easter and Anstruther Wester records
    Town council minutes, 1970-1975; correspondence files, 1933-1964; Dean of Guild court register of plans 1901-1949, and petitions, 1953-1963; Anstruther Joint Licensing Court records, 1912-1975 (with gaps); Anstruther Union Harbour Commission minutes, 1860-1975; correspondence, etc relating to housing and slum clearance, 1926-1963.

Voting Registers

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

  • B/10
    Crail burgh records
    Papers relating to elections of Member of Parliament for Crail, Kilrenny, Anstruther Easter and Wester and Pittenweem