Pittenweem, Fife, Scotland Genealogy

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Scotland Gotoarrow.png Fife Gotoarrow.png Pittenweem

Parish #452

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


PITTENWEEM, a small sea-port, royal burgh, and parish, in the district of St. Andrew's, county of Fife, 10 miles (S. by E.) from St. Andrew's, and 24 (N. E.) from Edinburgh. This place, of which the name is of doubtful etymology, appears to have derived its earliest importance from the foundation of a monastery for canons regular of the order of St. Augustine. The church is an ancient structure, originally forming part of the buildings of the priory. There are a place of worship for members of the Relief, and an episcopal chapel.[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 reports for Pittenweem. 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 Pittenweem as well as the library numbers for any surname indexes available:

Year Family History Library Film Numbers Surname Indexes
1841      1042703 book 941.33 X22s; films 1145982-3; CD-ROM no. 1075
1851 1042271 941.33 X22f
1861 0103832 CD-ROM no. 2524
1871 0103994 None
1881 0203530 6086574 (8 fiche)
1891 0208765 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

Record Type Years Covered Family History Library Film Number
Births: 1611-1614, 1628-1655, 1685-1819 1040170
1819-1854 1040171 items 1-2
Marriages:        1612-1652 (proclamations) 1040170
1650-1660 (banns) 1040171 items 1-2
1692-1820 1040170
1819-1854 1040171items 1-2
Deaths: 1685-1690, 1782-1821 (burials) 1040170
1820-1854 (burials) 1040171 items 1-2
Condition of original records—

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: There are no birth entries 1615–November 1628, November 1628–1639 and mother's names are not recorded. There are no entries November 1655–January 1685. No entries, except four, August 1690–May 1692. Entries for 1746 are on page 92, 94 and 95 and there are no entries except one, September 1746–August 1750. A portion of a page is cut off at April 1789, and irregular entries are of occasional occurrence.
Marriages: After 11 entries, February–May 1612 there are no entries until December 1619. From 1619–1652 there are separate entries of contracts and of marriages mixed with other matters. There are no entries December 1652–October 1692. From June 1704 the entries generally bear the dates of the contract, the proclamation and the marriage of the parties. No entries November 1746–July 1750, except four from 1770 and three from 1777–1778 and March 1766–March 1779. Marriage records 1750–1779 inclusive are in parallel columns with the baptisms for the same period.
Deaths: Burial records prior to 1690 are in parallel columns with baptisms for same period. There are no entries December 1690–March 1782, after which deaths are recorded. There are no entries except one, February 1791–January 1793 and four July 1807–February 1811.
Source: Key to the Parochial Registers of Scotland, by V. Ben Bloxham, pub. 1970. Family History Library British Book 941 K23b.

Established Church—Kirk Session Records

The Kirk session was the court of the parish. The session was made up of he 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:

Accounts 1650–1662
Minutes 1653–1655
Minutes and Accounts 1685–1941
Scroll Minutes and Accounts 1725–1729, 1738
Treasurer’s Accounts 1813–1832
Note: Available at St. Andrews University Library, St. Andrews, Fife, Scotland, record CH2/833.

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 List.

Pittenweem Relief Church

This congregation originated in the settlement of an unpopular minister in the parish. Several parishioners withdrew from the Established Church and applied to the Relief Presbytery of Edinburgh to be taken under their inspection as a forming congregation, which was granted. A church was built in 1775 with seating for 500. A new church was opened in 1857.
Source: Annals and Statistics of the United Presbyterian Church, by Rev. William MacKelvie, D.D., pub. 1873. Film #477618. More details may be given in the source.

Various Minutes 1814–1941
Note: Available at St. Andrews University Library, St. Andrews, Fife, Scotland, record CH3/802.

Pittenweem Branch, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter–Day Saints

Records—                                    Family History Library Film Number
Record of Members 1842–1853       104155 item 7

Pittenweem Episcopal Church

An Episcopal church existed in Pittenweem before 1845, but its history and extent of records is unknown. Contact the minister at:
The Great House
Priory Court
Anstruther KY10 2LI

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

Pittenweem 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 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.'

Read more about Scotland Probate Records.


  1. Lewis, Samuel A., A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland (1846), pp. 367-388. Adapted. Date accessed: 02 May 2014.

[Return to the Fife parish list.]