Ceres, Fife, Scotland Genealogy

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Scotland Gotoarrow.png Fife Gotoarrow.png Ceres

Parish #415

This is a guide to the history and major genealogical records of Scotland as they pertain to the parish of Ceres. To learn more about how to use these records to search for your ancestors, go to the Scotland: Research Strategies.


CERES, a parish, in the district of Cupar, county of Fife; containing the villages of Chance-Inn and Craigrothie, 2¼ miles (S. E.) from Cupar. This place, of which the name is of very uncertain derivation, appears to have consisted originally of several distinct baronies, belonging to various families of importance. The church, erected in 1806, near the site of the former, is a neat and substantial edifice, adapted for a congregation of 1100 persons. There are places of worship for members of the Free Church, Associated Antiburghers, and the Relief persuasion.[1]

This parish contains five separate villages.  The most extensive is Ceres from which the parish takes its name.  The second largest is named Cragrothie and the third is Chance Inn.  Coaltown was once a thriving village inhabited by colliers.  The name Ceres is found in ancient records written Siris, Cyres, Cyrus, Cires and Ceres.  The beautiful and useful river Eden runs along the north-west of the parish for the space of a mile and a half.  It once abounded with excellent trout, but their numbers are now greatly diminished.  Freestone and whinstone abound in the parish and there are several quarries.  Coal and limestone are also found in the parish though the coal is not worked.

The parish in the past appears to have been made up of a number of distinct baronies.  Ceres is a burgh of barony but is not yet chartered.  Craigrothie has the privileges of a chartered burgh.  There are three fine ruins in the parish.  The population of the parish in 1755 was 2540, in 1793 was 2320, in 1831 was 2762, and by 1837 was close to 3000.  The increase is due to several manufacturers in the parish, including looms and mills.  The town of Cupar is so near to Ceres that the latter has few shopkeepers for venders. 

There are 8000 acres of land in the parish of which about half is in pasture, slightly less is in tillage, and the rest is woods and moor.  There is a great number of cattle fed for the market.  Pork is also raised for the London market.  Corn and potatoes are grown in abundance.  The weekly market is in Cupar.  There are two annual markets or fairs held in the village of Ceres.  There is an abundant supply of good coal in the area and it is the cheapest fuel.  There number of inns may be about 25.  Their corrupting influence has not hitherto been very general.

A considerable part of the east end of the parish belonged formerly to the parish of St. Andress and about the year 1620 was annexed to Ceres.  The present church was built in 1806.  It seats 1300.  There are also two Dissenter meeting-houses in the village of Ceres, one for the Associate Congregation of Antiburgher Seceders, which was built in 1744, and the other for the Presbytery of Relief.  There are about 86 families in the parish attached to the Relief Church and about the same number to the Secession.

There is one parochial school, one Secession school, and three contribution schools, besides the schools at Piscottie and Tarvit Mills.  There are also two females schools and one or two small private schools.  The parochial school-house was built new in 1836 by the heritors and can accommodate 200 scholars.  The school-house in Craigrothie was built by subscription in 1806.  From 60 to 70 attend there.  There are a couple of small libraries in the parish.

The above extract was taken from the account written in November 1837. 

Source: The New Statistical Account of Scotland for Aberdeenshire. FHL book 941 B4sa, 2nd series, vol. 1;

The New Statistical Account of Scotland (pub. 1834-45) offers uniquely rich and detailed parish reports for the whole of Scotland, covering a vast range of topics including history, agriculture, education, trades, religion and social customs. The reports, written by the parish ministers, are available online at http://edina.ac.uk/stat-acc-scot/.  Click on ‘Browse scanned pages’ then search the parish you are interested in. Also available at the Family History Library.

Census Records

A census is a count and description of the population, taken by the government, arranged by locality and by household. Read more about census records.

Here is a list of the Family History Library microfilm numbers for the census records of Ceres as well as the library numbers for any surname indexes available:

Year FHL Film Number Surname Indexes
1841      Missing None
1851 FHL 1042253 941.33 X22f
1861 FHL 0103826 CD-ROM no. 2524
1871 FHL 0103988 None
1881 FHL 0203518 6086574 (set of 8 fiche)
1891 FHL 0208749 None

The 1901 census of Scotland is indexed on www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk.  To use it, you must register and pay a small access fee. All available censuses, 1841-1901, are indexed on this website. It may be easier for you to pay to use the website rather than access indexes through the library.

Church Records

The Established Church of Scotland was Presbyterian. Read more about church records.

Here are the pre-1855 records that exist for this parish.  

Established Church—Old Parochial Registers

Event Type Years Covered FHL Film Number
Births: 1620-1727 1040154 items 3-4
1727-1854 1040155 items 1-3
Marriages: 1620-1727 1040155 items 3-4
1727-1854 1040155 items 1-3
Deaths: 1620-1655, 1708-1727 1040154 items 3-4
1727-1854 1040155 items 1-2

Condition of Original Registers

Index: For an index to these records, see Scotland’s People website, a pay-for-view website. The Scottish Church Records Index is also still available at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.  Some records may also be indexed in other FamilySearch collections for Scotland..
Births: Births are intermixed with marriages and deaths, burials, until 1644 and recorded in parallel columns of the same pages from 1645–1817, after which three separate records are kept. There are no entries January 1644–March 1645 and December 1646–March 1649.
Marriages: Same as births above.
Deaths: Same as births above. There are no entries May 1655–January 1708. After January 1817 deaths are recorded.
Source: Key to the Parochial Registers of Scotland, by V. Ben Bloxham, pub. 1970. FHL British Book 941 K23b.

Established Church—Kirk Session Records

The Kirk session was the court of the parish. The session was made up of the minister and the land owners and business men of the parish, chosen to serve on the session. The Kirk session dealt with moral issues, minor criminal cases, matters of the poor and education, matters of discipline, and the general concerns of the parish. Kirk session records may also mention births, marriages, and deaths.

Here is a list of the surviving Kirk session records for this parish:

Various Minutes 1644–1697, 1700–1717, 1740–1857
Cash Books 1700–1710, 1740–1757, 1783–1801, 1819–1851
Poor Fund Accounts 1835–1844
Note: Available at St. Andrews University Library, St. Andrews, Fife, Scotland, record CH2/65.

Nonconformist Church Records

A nonconformist church is any church that is not the Established church. Read more about nonconformity in Scotland in the article on the Scotland Church Records Union Lists.

Ceres West United Presbyterian Church

The persons of Ceres who became Seceders at the origin of the Secession formed themselves into a praying society, which became part of an association that had previously existed in the district. They first traveled to Abernethy for worship. They later organized into a separate congregation for East Fife in 1738. When in 1740 there was opposition to the settlement of a new parish minister in Ceres, between 30 and 40 persons left the Established Church and applied to the Associate Presbytery to be recognized in connection it, and were received. Thus the Seceders in the Ceres district received supply of sermon. The following year an elder of the parish, along with a number of the parishioners, also joined the Secession congregation. In a short time the congregation at Ceres embraced residents from 32 parishes, extending from the Forth on the south to the Tay on the north, and from St. Andrews in the east to the Lomond Hills on the west. The congregation took possession of a place of worship in 1744. The majority of the congregation adhered to the General Associate Anti-burgher Synod at the Breach in 1747.

Source: Annals and Statistics of the United Presbyterian Church, by Rev. William MacKelvie, D.D., pub. 1873. Film #477618. More details are given in the source, including ministers.

Records—                                                                           FHL Film Number
Baptismal Register 1738–1806, 1808, 1836–37, 1858–1891      FHL 1482999
Another copy to 1837                                                             0304670 item 6
Session Minutes 1738–1748                                                   FHL 1482999
Accounts 1738–1771, 1781–1863                                            FHL 1482999
Accounts 1771–1833
Note: Available at St. Andrews University Library, St. Andrews, Fife, Scotland, record CH3/54. The X means the record has been extracted.

Ceres East Relief Presbyterian Church

When members of the West congregation differed over the selection of a new minister after 1793, those in sympathy with the man not chosen withdrew from the congregation and applied to the Relief Presbytery of Dysart to be taken under their inspection, which was granted in 1798. A church was built that same year.

Source: Annals and Statistics of the United Presbyterian Church, by Rev. William MacKelvie, D.D., pub. 1873. Film #477618. More details are given in the source, including ministers.

The extent of pre-1855 records is unknown.

Ceres Free Church

This congregation was formed at the Disruption in 1843. At first public worship was held in a wooden structure; but before long a substantial church and manse were erected. The congregation suffered from decay of the weaving industry and also.
Membership: 1848, 214; 1900, 92.
Source: Annals of the Free Church of Scotland, 1843–1900, ed. Rev. William Ewing, D.D., 2 vols. pub. 1914. Film #918572. More details may be given in the source, including ministers.

Records—                                                    FHL Film Number
Baptismal Register 1877–1894                        1485042 item 1
Various Minutes 1844–1909                            1484199 item 2-6
Deacon’s Court Account Book 1847–1876        1484199 item 2-6
Communion Rolls 1852–1903                          1484199 item 2-6

Civil Registration Records

Government or civil registration of births, marriages, and deaths (also called statutory records) began on January 1, 1855 in Scotland. Each parish has a registrar's office and large cities have several. The records are created by the registrars and copies are sent to the General Register Office in Edinburgh. Annual indexes are then created for the records for the whole country.

See the article on Scotland Civil Registration for more information and to access the records.

Probate Records

Ceres was under the probate jurisdiction of the Commissary Court of St. Andrews until 1823, and since then has been under the Sheriff's Court of Fife at Cupar. Probate records for 1513-1901 are indexed online at www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk. You must register on the website but use of the index to probate records, called 'Wills & Testaments,' is free. You may then purchase a copy of the document or, if the document is before 1823, it will be on microfilm at the Family History Library. To find the microfilm numbers, search in the library catalog for the 'Place' of Fife and the subject of 'Probate records.' Then click on the link to the records of the Commissariat of Fife. 

The library also has some post-1823 probate records for Fife. Look in the library catalog for the 'Place' of Fife and the subjects of 'Probate Records' and 'Probate Records - Indexes.'

Read more about Scotland Probate Records.


  1. Lewis, Samuel A., A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland (1846), pp. 185-200. Adapted. Date accessed: 25 April 2014.

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