Fife, Scotland Genealogy

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Guide to Fife ancestry, family history and genealogy: birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, parish registers, and military records.

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History

Fife is a maritime county in the east of Scotland, bounded on the north by the river Tay, on the east by the German Ocean, on the south by the Firth of Forth, and on the west by the counties of Perth, Kinross, and Clackmannan.  It is about 48 miles in length and 18 in extreme breadth, comprising an area of 504 square miles or 322,560 acres.  It was anciently part of the extensive district of Ross, but after the union of the kingdoms of the Scots and the Picts in about the year 971, it was granted by Kenneth II to Macduff for his services in subjugating the Picts, and he was appointed hereditary thane of the lands he had helped conquer [for this reason, the county is still referred to as the Kingdom of Fife].

The county consists of 61 parishes and four civil districts of Cupar, Kirkcaldy, St. Andrew's and Dunfermline.  Sheriff's courts are held at Cupar (the county town) for the first three and at Dunfermline for the last.  Besides Cupar, the county contains fourteen royal burghs, nine other populous towns, and numerous smaller towns and villages.  Many of the towns are seaports.  The principal port is Kirkcaldy.

The population in 1851 was 140,140.

(Source:  Samuel Lewis' Topographical Dictionary of Scotland, 2nd ed., 1851.  Family Hisotry Library book 941 E5L.)

Scotlands People: An Important Online Source

ScotlandsPeople is one of the largest online sources of original genealogical information. If you are researching UK genealogy, your Scottish ancestry or building your Scottish family tree, they have more than 100 million records to look through.

The comprehensive choice of Scottish records includes:

  • Statutory Registers
  • Old Parish Registers
  • Catholic Parish Registers
  • CPR Others
  • Census
  • Valuation Rolls
  • Soldiers’ Wills
  • Wills & Testaments
  • Coats of Arms

For more detail on exact record availability, see Availability. For examples of the records available, see Record Types and Examples. More information on the site, its contents, and instructions for using it can be found in the ScotlandsPeople Wiki article. Indexes may be searched for free, and there is a small pay per view fee to see the actual digitized record.

Census

Many census records have been indexed by surname. Some indexes cover one parish (and will be listed in the Wiki on the parish page) and some indexes are for the county as a whole. The Family History Library has county-wide census placename indexes for Fife for 1881.  Click here for other census indexes available at the library.

Church Records

Parishes

Some of the Fifeshire parish records are indexed in Fife, Scotland, Extracted Parish Records.
This database is a collection of historical parish registers from the county of Fife in the country of Scotland. The records in this collection can range in date from the early 1500s to the mid- to late-1800s. The records include baptisms/christenings, burials, marriages, tombstone inscriptions, obituaries, tax lists, wills, and other miscellaneous types of records. Also included are some records from non-conformist churches. You will find interesting phonetic spelling. Some of the records may be in Latin or even a Welsh or Scottish dialect. Due to the nature of the records and because the records were originally compiled by a third party, it is difficult to absolutely verify the completeness and validity of the data.

Here is a list of the historic parishes for the county of Fife. Click on the parish name to see information about records. Click on this link for an outline map of the parishes of Fife.


Parish No. Parish No.
Abbotshall 399 Flisk 430
Abdie 400 Forgan 431
Abercrombie -- See St. Monance 454
Aberdour 401 Inverkeithing 432
Anstruther-Easter 402 Kemback 433
Anstruther-Wester 403 Kennoway 434
Arngask 404 Kettle 435
Auchterderran 405 Kilconquhar 436
Auchtermuchty 406 Kilmany 437
Auchtertool 407 Kilrenny 438
Ballingry 408 Kinghorn 439
Balmerino 409 Kinglassie 440
Beath 410 Kingsbarns 441
Burntisland 411 Kirkcaldy 442
Cameron 412 Largo 443
Carnbee 413 Leslie 444
Carnock  414  Leuchars 445
Ceres 415  Logie 446
Collessie  416 Markinch 447
Crail 417 Monimail 448
Creich 418 Moonzie 449
Cults 419 Newburgh 450
Cupar 420 Newburn 451
Dairsie 421 Pittenweem 452
Dalgetty 422 St. Andrews and St. Leonards 453
Dunbog 423 St. Leonards -- See. St. Andrews 453
Dunfermline 424 St. Monance or Abercrombie 454
Dunino 425 Saline 455
Dysart 426 Scoonie 456
Elie 427 Strathmiglo 457
Falkland 428 Torryburn 458
Ferry-Port-on-Craig 429 Wemyss 459


Civil Registration or Statutory Registers

For details on information found in statutory registers and other methods of searching them, see Scotland Statutory Registers - Vital Records.

Refer to the ScotlandsPeople Wiki article.
Images and Indexes Available at ScotlandsPeople Website ($)
Images-Years
Indexes
Births 1855-1910 ◊ScotlandsPeople Website has indexes to 2012.
Marriages 1855-1935
Deaths 1855-1960


Court Records

The county of Fife was in the Sheriff's court of Cupar (SC20).  The Registers of Deeds for Sheriffs' courts contains much valuable information for family history research such as marriage contracts and deeds of 'disposal and settlement' (or assignment) of property, which both give names and relationships.  The Fife Family History Society has created an index to the Fife Sheriff's Court Deeds for 1715-1809 that is searchable on their website at http://www.fifefhs.org/.  In the website, click on the link for 'Records & maps.

Maps

Probate Records

Probate records are those which deal with the settlement of the estate of a deceased person.  In Scotland, until 1868, a person could only pass movable property such as household furniture, farm equipment, livestock, money and clothes through a document known as a 'testament.'  Immovable property such as land was passed to the eldest son or heir through a document known as a 'Service of Heir,' which is not a record of probate.  Read more about Scotland Probate Records.

Until 1823, the majority of the parishes of Fife were under the probate jurisdiction of the Commissary Court of St. Andrews (CC20).  The Commissary Court of Dunkeld (CC7) had jurisdiction over the parishes of Aberdour, Leslie, and Strathmiglo, and the Commissary Court of Stirling (CC21) had jurisdiction over the parishes of Carnock, Saline, and Torryburn.  Since 1823, the whole of the county has been under the jurisdiction of the Sheriff's Court of Fife at Cupar (SC20).

Probate records for 1513-1901 (including inventories of goods) 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 St. Andrews.

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.

Poorhouse Records

There are three workhouses:

Societies

Tay Valley Family History Society
179 - 181 Princes Street
Dundee
DD4 6DQ
Scotland, UK
Tel: +44 (0)1382 461845

Scottish Genealogy Society
15 Victoria Terrace
Edinburgh
EH1 2JL
Scotland
Phone-0131 220 3677
Email enquiries@scotsgenealogy.com


Websites