Description of the parish in 1857

"Monimail parish occupies a portion of the central valley of Fifeshire. It is bounded on the north by Cupar, Moonzie, Creich and Dunbog; on the south by Collessie and Cults; on the east by Cupar and on the west by Abdie and Collessie. It is 5 miles long by 4 in breadth. A range of whinstone hills lies to the north, of which Mount Hill is the highest; on top of which a beautiful pillar has been erected in memory of the late Lord Hopetoun in 1826; it is upwards of 100 feet in height. The south portion is generally more level, and diversified by soft undulations. The parish is watered by several rivulets, one of them turning a mill-wheel without a dam; they all fall into the river Eden. The Fife breed of cattle, and the Ayrshire cows for milk, are preferred. Though sheep are not reared, they are largely bought to feed on turnips through the winter. Potatoes are rather extensively cultivated for the London market, as also for feeding cattle. The rent of the land will run from £1-5s to £3-10s per acre. Coal has to be brought from Markinch or Dysart. The south half contains freestone, sufficient for local use. The whinstone, though abundant, is with few exceptions unfit for building, as it soon yields to the action of the atmosphere. Weaving of linens is carried on in the parish to the annual value of 'between £2000 and £3000'. Parish church and Free church. Parish school and three private schools. There are 3 public houses in the parish. There are 2 parish libraries; and a flourishing friendly society. There is one village, Letham, with 450 inhabitants; it is 4 miles west of Cupar and 5 miles east of Auchtermuchty; it has an annual fair in June. There are 2 hamlets in the parish: Monimail with 85 inhabitants and Easter Fernie with 60." from A Descriptive & historic gazeteer of the counties of Fife, Kinross & Clackmannan, M Barbieri, published in 1857


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 are 2 cemeteries in Monimail parish:

1. Monimail Old Cemetery / Churchyard, Monimail (grid ref. NO 297142; GPS: 56.314573 -3.135487):

  • The pre-1855 monumental inscriptions for Monimail Old 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 17, 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.
  • Fife Family History Society have transcribed the Death Records 1848-1854 and they are available on the Records pages of their website.
  • 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 1882) are administered by Fife Council, Bereavement Services East, County Buildings, St Catherine Street, Cupar, KY15 4TA. Tel. 01334 659336. Fax 01334 412896.

2. Monimail Cemetery, Monimail (grid ref. NO 297143; GPS: 56.315211 -3.135084):

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


Parish / district reference number for 1841 - 1901 censuses: 448

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:

(Data provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints)

Further information on the main Fife page.



Presbyterian / Unitarian
Monimail, Church of Scotland

Church History

In addition to the parish church at Monimail, there was also a Free Church at Bow of Fife.

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

  • 55 dissenters in total
  • 27 Antiburgher Seceders
  • 2 Independents
  • the other 26 are Episcopals, Burgher Seceders and members of the presbytery of Relief.

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

  • 238 families (1057 individuals) attend the Established Church, 31 families (162 individuals) are Seceders, 3 families (11 individuals) [have] Episcopalian principles.

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:

  • Monimail Church
    The parish church of Monimail, which was rebuilt in 1796, was formerly a prebend of St Andrews and the kirk session records ministry from 1562, in the person of David Spens. In 1944 Monimail united with the former United Free Church congregation of Bow of Fife, continuing after the union under the name of Monimail. A link was established between Monimail and Springfield in 1975, however this arrangement was later terminated in favour of a link with Creich, Flisk and Kilmany. 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.
  • Monimail Free Church / United Free / Bow of Fife Church of Scotland
    At the Disruption of 1843 the minister and a number of the congregation of the parish church of Monimail adhered to the Free Church and in 1844 a church was opened at Bow of Fife to accommodate the congregation of Monimail Free Church. The church was later renovated in 1878, but a new building was erected in 1898 and presented to the congregation by Sir Michael Nairn of Rankeillor. Following the union of the United Presbyterian Church and the Free Church of Scotland in 1900, Monimail Free Church became Monimail United Free Church and following the later union between the United Free Church and the Church of Scotland the congregation took the name Bow of Fife. In 1944 Bow of Fife was united with the parish church of Monimail, under the name of Monimail, and after the union both churches remained in use. A link was later established between Monimail Kirk Session, which presently sits within the Presbytery of St Andrews, and Springfield in 1975, however this arrangement was later terminated in favour of a link with Creich, Flisk and Kilmany.

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: 448

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

Monimail OPRBirths / baptismsProclamations / marriagesDeaths / burials / mortcloths
(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 1687. Records prior to 1725 very much wasted. Blank Feb. 1657 - Sept. 1658, July 1679 - July 1682, July 1684 - Nov. 1686, Aug. 1689 - Aug. 1690, Aug. 1696 - Jan. 1698. After May 1747, entries of children of Seceders, 1738 - 1748. Duplicate of Record of B. 1725 - 1749. Page of irregular entries 1799 - 1810, at June 1806; also entries 1823 - 1854, on four pp. at end of 1814. Mothers' names seldom recorded till 1666, and occasionally omitted till about 1682.
M.  Prior to 1687 intermixed with B. Blank Dec. 1687 - Aug. 1690. No entries June 1696 - Nov. 1697. Blank Nov. 1754 - July 1761. Record before 1725 much injured by damp.
D.  Four entries for 1685. Regular Record commences Oct. 1697. Blank April 1720 - Jan, 1738, June 1751 - Jan. 1753, and (exc. three entries) Oct. 1754 - March 1784. Only two entries Aug. 1786 - Jan. 1817.

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:

1040338 Items 1 - 3Session book (includes baptisms, marriage proclamations), 1656- 1685; Baptisms, 1685-1854; Marriages, 1685-1754, 1761-1861; Burials, 1685, 1697-1720, 1738-1754, 1780-1790, 1817-1835, 1844, 1853-1854.
(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.

Further information on the main Fife page.

Kirk Session and similar records are held at the Special Collections Dept. of St Andrews University Library. Some Kirk Session material is to be found in the OPR records (448/1).

Heritors' Records (HR432) 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:

  • CH2/548
    Monimail Kirk Session
    Minutes, 1631-1644, 1690-1699, 1705-1706, 1725-1823 and 1826-1908; Accounts, 1686-1751, 1765-1800, 1804-1820 and 1870-1944; Heritor's minutes, 1724-1728 and 1840-1875; Baptismal register, 1874-1894; Proclamation register, 1861-1944; Communion roll, 1848-1862, 1886-1934 and 1936-1953.

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

  • 448/1
    Monimail Kirk Session
    Collections 1656-1685.

At the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh:

  • HR/432
    Monimail parish heritors' records
    Minutes, 1793-1804, 1810-1840, 1876-1927; Accounts, 1810-1840, 1875-1927.

Other Churches:

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

  • CH3/679
    Monimail Free Church / United Free / Bow of Fife Church of Scotland
    Minutes, 1843-1932; Baptisms, 1843-1845 and 1927-1943; Deacon's Court Minutes, 1845-1944; Congregational board minutes, 1944-1956; Deacon's court accounts, 1876-1914; Communion roll, 1923-1943; Schedule for alterations to manse, 1928.
    The registers are being made available on the ScotlandsPeople website.
    A transcript of these Free Church baptisms has been published by the Fife Family History Society Baptismal Registers No. 1 and is also available on CD:
    Monimail Free ChurchBaptisms

The Monimail 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 districtnumberstart dateend date

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


Description & Travel

Monimail village centreOrdnance Survey Grid ReferenceGPSPost codeLat. 56°18'53"N
NO 29714256.314968
KY15 4RJLon. 3°8'7"W

Surrounding parishes: Moonzie, Creich, Dunbog, Abdie, Collessie, Cults, Cupar.

You can see pictures of Monimail 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.
  • 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 Monimail 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 NO322145 (Lat/Lon: 56.317827, -3.098046), Monimail which are provided by:



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 recently 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. See Public Records below.




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 Monimail 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/6/45
    Monimail Parochial Board / Parish Council
    Minute books, 1890-1930.


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

At the Fife Council Archive Centre, Kirkcaldy:

  • Letham Primary School / Monimail School
    Log books, 1890-1987; School Board Minutes 1902-1919.

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 BoardSchoolAccommodation for scholarsAverage attendance
MonimailEaster Fernie5426


"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.