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Kirkcaldy Church History

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There is more information about some churches on the Dysart and Abbotshall pages. An authoritative book is Kirkcaldy's Churches, 1999, Kirkcaldy Civic Society, ISBN 0946294178, available from Fife Family History Society.

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

  • Total population 2673, includes 2 ministers and 2 preachers.
  • Burghers - 304
  • Antiburghers - 206
  • Presbytery of relief - 51
  • Independents - 11
  • Episcopals - 10
  • Reformed presbytery - 9
  • Bereans - 2
  • Baptist - 1
  • Roman catholic - 1
  • There is no place for public worship other than the parish church, although a mason lodge is used for that purpose by a handful of independents.

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

  • Besides the 2 Established churches, there are 4 places of worship for Dissenters: United Secession, Episcopalians, Scottish Baptists and Independents.
  • A few Bereans and Old Independents regularly meet for worship but neither of them has a church.
  • These congregations are gathered from a number of parishes. On the other hand, many from this parish attend a United Secession congregation in Abbotshall, and a congregation of Original Seceders at Pathhead, and a few go to a Relief Church in Dysart.

A census of Religious Worship and Education was taken in 1851 at the same time as the census of population. A table of statistics about the churches in Fife at this time is available here. The statistics for the separate burghs were also given. Those for Kirkcaldy are as follows:

Kirkcaldy (Parliamentary Burgh): Population of Parishes 13779, Population of Burgh 10475:

Religious Denomination Number of Places of Worship Number of Sittings Number of Attendants at Public Worship on Sunday March 30 1851 (including Sunday Scholars)
Free Appropriated Total Morning Afternoon Evening
Established Church 3 324 2005 2329 1378 1467  
United Presbyterian Church 3 50 500 2370 1140 1307  
Free Church 4 2190   2190 1450 1668  
Episcopal Church 1 120 180 300 80 85  
Independents or Congregationalists 1 480   480 130 161 159
Baptists 2 360   360 169 222  
Isolated Congregations 2 60   210 57 74  
Roman Catholics 1 300   300      
Total 17 3884 2685 8539 4404 4984 159
The number of sittings was not returned for 1 of the Free Churches.
Returns are altogether wanting for 2 other churches: Established Church 1, United Presbyterian Church 1.

Source: Census of Great Britain, 1851, Religious worship and education. Scotland. Report and tables. British Parliamentary Papers 1854 LIX (1764).

The 1865 Ecclesiastical Directory lists the parish church, 2 other Established Churches (Port Brae and Pathhead), 4 Free Churches (Abbotshall, Dunnikier, Invertiel and Pathhead), 2 United Presbyterian Churches (Bethelfield and the Union Church), the Episcopal Church (St. Peter's), 2 Baptist Churches (Rose Street and White's Causeway), the Congregational Church and a United Original Seceders Church.

Information and pictures of the churches at the Scottish Churches website. Details of church history:

  • Kirkcaldy Old Kirk Session, Kirkcaldy St Bryce Kirk:

The parish church of Kirkcaldy was dedicated to St Bryce and formerly belonged to the Abbey of Dunfermline. Ministry of the session, which was previously known as St Bryce, is recorded from 1560 in the person of George Scott. The church was enlarged and repaired in 1643 and was later rebuilt in 1807. The kirk session, which is presently called Kirkcaldy: St Bryce Kirk, sits within the Presbytery of Kirkcaldy.

  • Dunnikier Free Church, United Free:
Dunnikier Free Church began as Kirkcaldy Pathhead (Antiburgher) Church. After the union with the Burghers in 1820 a minority stood out and eventually joined the FC in 1852, as Kirkcaldy Dunnikier. The congregation passed successively to the United Free Church and the Church of Scotland, and united with Kirkcaldy Victoria Road as Kirkcaldy St Andrew's in 1972. The Church of Scotland charge was in the presbytery of Kirkcaldy and the synod of Fife.
  • Kirkcaldy Raith Kirk:
Mission services first took place at Kirkcaldy Raith in 1875 when a church was purchased at Linktown and the parish of Raith was later disjoined from Abbotshall in 1884. In 1964 Kirkcaldy Raith was united once more with Kirkcaldy Abbotshall under the name of Kirkcaldy Abbotshall and under the ministry of Rev M.W. Cooper. The Kirk Session of Kirkcaldy Raith sat within the jurisdiction of the Presbytery of Kirkcaldy throughout its existence.
  • St James's Church (Cowan Street, Port Brae):
The parish of Kirkcaldy St James's, (formerly Cowan Street or Port Brae) was disjoined from Kirkcaldy and erected as a separate charge, quoad sacra, on the 24th June 1872. The congregation of Kirkcaldy St James's Kirk Session, which sat within the jurisdiction of the Presbytery of Kirkcaldy, was dissolved in 1974.
  • Pathhead Church (Pathhead East):
Kirkcaldy Pathhead was erected as an independent parish on the 16th March 1859 when it was disjoined from Dysart. In 1943, following the union of the Church of Scotland and the United Free Church in 1929, Kirkcaldy Pathhead Parish Church (also known as Kirkcaldy Pathhead East) was united with the former United Free Church congregation of Kirkcaldy Pathhead West. The two sessions united under the name of Kirkcaldy Pathhead and under the ministry of Rev K.B. Citron, minister at Kirkcaldy Pathhead West. The kirk session has fallen within the jurisdiction of the Presbytery of Kirkcaldy throughout its existence.
  • Pathhead Antiburgher Church, Associate Session (Linktoun), United Presbyterian:

Pathhead (Antiburgher) Church was formed at the Breach of 1747, when an existing congregation (later Kirkcaldy Bethelfield) split over the burgess oath. The dissentient minority met for 15 years in a barn, but then built a church, in 1763, much of the work being carried out without payment by tradesmen members of the congregation. The first minister was ordained in 1748. At the union of 1820 with the Burghers, a large minority, including the minister, broke away and eventually joined the Free Church as Kirkcaldy Dunnikier in 1852. The FC charge was in the presbytery of Kirkcaldy and the synod of Fife.

  • Sinclairtown Church
The parish of Kirkcaldy Sinclairtown was disjoined from that of Dysart on the 9th February 1912; a chapel had been erected here a number of years prior in 1878. In 1977 Kirkcaldy Sinclairtown united with the charge of Kirkcaldy Gallatown, under the name of Kirkcaldy Viewforth, and a link was later established in 1995 with the session of Thornton. The kirk session has sat within the Presbytery of Kirkcaldy throughout its existence.
  • Templehall Church
The Kirk Session of Kirkcaldy Templehall first began as an extension charge within the expanding district of Templehall, and in order to provide a premises for the charge, in 1952 Cleish Gardens Hall was opened and dedicated. Kirkcaldy Templehall, which sits within the Presbytery of Kirkcaldy, was later granted full status by the Church of Scotland and the charge is at present sitting as a vacancy.
  • St John's Church
This parish was disjoined from Kirkcaldy and erected 3 Nov 1916.
  • Abbotsrood (Hayfield) Church
Kirkcaldy, Abbotshall United Free Church became known as Kirkcaldy Abbotsrood (Hayfield) at the union of the United Free Church with the Church of Scotland It later united with Kirkcaldy Dunnikier under that name in 1967. The Church of Scotland charge was in the presbytery of Kirkcaldy and the synod of Fife.
  • Victoria Road United Presbyterian Church
Kirkcaldy, Victoria Road United Presbyterian Church began as a church extension church in 1885, with a minister ordained in the following year. The congregation, which was also formed in 1886, worshipped in a former established church building. It passed successively to the United Free Church and the Church of Scotland, and united with Kirkcaldy Dunnikier as Kirkcaldy St Andrew's in 1972. The Church of Scotland charge was in the presbytery of Kirkcaldy and the synod of Fife.
  • Kirkcaldy United Original Secession Church
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  • Kirkcaldy Second Associate Congregation (later Union United Presbyterian and United Free Church)
Kirkcaldy Second Associate Congregation, which was also known as the Union U.P. congregation, was established in 1821 following a petition presented to the United Secession Presbytery of Dunfermline, requesting that sermon be provided. The Rev. John More of Cairneyhill first preached to the session in July of that year and a church was built in 1822. The first minister of Kirkcaldy Union U.P. was ordained on the 5th April 1826. During the year 1837 it is recorded that, of the members of the congregation, one third were resident within the parish of Kirkcaldy, one third resided within Dysart parish and the remainder were from Abbotshall, Kinghorn and Wemyss. In 1900, upon the union of the United Presbyterians and the Free Church, the charge of Kirkcaldy Second Associate Congregation became Kirkcaldy Union United Free Church however the congregation, which sat within the Presbytery of Kirkcaldy, was dissolved a number of years thereafter in 1928.
  • Kirkcaldy, Bethelfield (burgher) united associate congregation, later United Presbyterian, United Free and Church of Scotland
Kirkcaldy, Bethelfield (Burgher) United Associate Congregation originated with a group of Seceders in the town, who from 1740 had a minister serving a congregation in Abbotshall and Kirkcaldy. Abbotshall later separated. Kirkcaldy passed to the United Presbyterian Church, as Kirkcaldy Bethelfield, and then to the United Free Church and the Church of Scotland. In 1991 Kirkcaldy Linktown was formed by the union of Kirkcaldy Bethelfield and Kirkcaldy Invertiel. The Church of Scotland charge was in the presbytery of Kirkcaldy and the synod of Fife.
  • Pathhead Free, United Free, Church of Scotland (Pathhead West):

Kirkcaldy, Pathhead Free Church originated at the Disruption, when the minister and congregation adhered to the Free Church. A new church building opened in 1844. It passed successively to the United Free Church, with the congregation being evicted from the buildings for a time from 1904-1906, and to the Church of Scotland, in the latter case as Kirkcaldy Pathhead West. Kirkcaldy Pathhead East and West united as Kirkcaldy Pathhead in 1958. The Church of Scotland charge was in the presbytery of Kirkcaldy and the synod of Fife.

  • Loughborough Road United Presbyterian Church, United Free and Church of Scotland
In 1876 Kirkcaldy United Presbyterian Church considered a Church Extension in Kirkcaldy. A new church was erected in Loughborough Road, Kirkcaldy, in 1878. The first minister, John C. Baxter, was inducted in 1879. A new church was opened in 1881. Following the union in 1900 of the United Presbyterian Church and the Free Church, the charge became Kirkcaldy, Loughborough Road, United Free Church. The first minister was Edward Marr (b 1863) who was inducted in 1900. In 1929 the church rejoined the Church of Scotland. In 1953 the buildings were renovated. The congregation was dissolved in 1969.
  • Gallatown Free Church, United Free and Church of Scotland:
In 1857, in response to a request from Gallatown Mission Committee, a Free Church station was established within the district of Kirkcaldy Gallatown , which was later sanctioned in 1875. A church was erected to house the congregation in 1861-1862 and prior to 1875 services were conducted by probationers under the Home Mission Committee. A new church was later erected in 1883 and the old building was converted for use as a hall. In 1900, upon the union of the Free Church and the United Presbyterians, Kirkcaldy Gallatown became Kirkcaldy Gallatown United Free Church, and following the 1929 union between the Church of Scotland and the United Free Church, Kirkcaldy Gallatown U.F. became Kirkcaldy Gallatown Church of Scotland. In 1977 Kirkcaldy Gallatown established a union with the congregation of Kirkcaldy Sinclairtown, under the name of Kirkcaldy Viewforth, and the united session was linked in 1995 with Thornton. The congregation of Kirkcaldy Viewforth remains active today.
  • Invertiel Church:
In 1836 there was a mission chapel built at Invertiel and the parish of Kirkcaldy Invertiel was later erected in 1869 when it was disjoined from Kinghorn and Abbotshall. In 1952, Kirkcaldy Invertiel established a union with the former United Free Church congregation of Kirkcaldy Invertiel North. The united charge continued under the name of Kirkcaldy Invertiel and the old Invertiel Parish Church was sold in 1954 to a coachbuilder. A further union followed in 1991 between Kirkcaldy Invertiel and Kirkcaldy Bethelfield to form the session of Kirkcaldy Linktown and the united session was additionally linked with Auchtertool during the same year. Kirkcaldy Invertiel Kirk Session sat within the jurisdiction of the Presbytery of Kirkcaldy.
  • Invertiel Free Church Kirk Session, United Free, Invertiel North Church of Scotland
Invertiel Free Church began as a Church of Scotland Church Extension charge whose congregation adhered to the Free Church and were able to retain the building until 1856. A new church was built thereafter. It passed successively to the United Free Church, as Kirkcaldy Invertiel North, and to the Church of Scotland. Invertiel North united with Kirkcaldy Invertiel under that name in 1952. Kirkcaldy Linktown was formed in 1991 by the union of Kirkcaldy Bethelfield and Kirkcaldy Invertiel. The Church of Scotland charges were in the presbytery of Kirkcaldy and the synod of Fife.
  • West End Congregational Church, Kirkcaldy
The West End Congregational Church, Kircaldy, was established in the former Cowan Street Chapel in 1873. They removed to the newly erected church in the High Street in April 1874 and are still active.
  • Sinclairtown (Kirkcaldy) Wesleyan church, 1883-1977
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