Anstruther-Easter, Fife, Scotland Genealogy
This is a guide to the history and major genealogical records of Scotland as they pertain to the parish of Anstruther-Easter. To learn more about how to use these records to search for your ancestors, go to the Scotland: Research Strategies.
- 1 History
- 2 Census Records
- 3 Church Records
- 4 Civil Registration Records
- 5 Probate Records
Anstruther Easter was erected into a royal burgh by charter of James VI in 1583. The parish extends no farther than the limits of the burgh and has no landward district attached. It is bounded on the west by the parish of Anstruther Wester, from which it is divided by a rivulet and connected by a bridge. The town is situated at the bottom of a small bay with a harbour, and is well suited to the purposes of trade. In 1710 it was made a port and a custom-house was established. The revenue of the burgh arises chiefly from customs and shore or harbour dues, which have fallen off considerably since 1827. Like many other small towns, Anstruther Easter has of late years decreased much in wealth and importance. Though it is still the best market town in the district, its decayed condition may be judged of by the single fact that the tonnage belonging to the port, at the date of the former Statistical Account (1799), was 1400 and is now only 964 (with eleven vessels). As a result, part of the population cannot find employment here and old tenements have fallen into ruins. Formerly ship building was carried on here to a considerable extent, but for the last ten years it has entirely ceased. There is a tan-work in the town, also a brewery and a rope and sail work. About 600 barrels of cod are cured annually besides great quantities of herrings during February. These are exported chiefly to the West India market. Considerable quantities of haddocks are smoked for the home market. Seamen's wages are about 2 pounds 10 shillings per month. A weekly corn (grain) market is held on Saturday. The number of shops is considerable, and there is a mill for the preparation of all hinds of meal. There is a post office in the town.
This parish was founded in 1636 from Kilrenny. The first minister was settled in 1641 and the records of the kirk session have been carefully since then. The church, built in 1634 and renovated in 1834, is conveniently situated in a large burying ground surrounded by an excellent wall. The church is now one of the most elegant country churches anywhere to be seen and has seating for 630. There are three Dissenting meeting houses -- for the Burghers, the Independents, and the Baptist. The families conncected with them, belonging to the parish, are in all about 33. The average number of baptisms during the last seven years is 16 and of marriages 10. No accurate record of deaths has been kept. There is only one school in the parish, the parochial or burgh school. The average number attending is about 80.
The population has varied little through time. In 1744 it was 1000 and in 1831 it was 1007, but since then it has dropped. The number of families in the parish is 255.
The above extract is from the account written in January 1837.
Source: The New Statistical Account of Scotland, for Fife. Family History Library book 941 B4sa, 2nd series, vol. 9.
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
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 Anstruther-Easter as well as the library numbers for any surname indexes available:
|Year||Family History Library Film Number||Surname Index|
|1841||1042699||book 941.33 X22s; films 1145982-3; CD-ROM no. 1075|
|1861||0103825||CD-ROM no. 2524|
|1881||0203516||6086574 (8 fiche)|
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 the separate indexes through the library.
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||Family History Library Film Number|
Condition of Original Registers—
Index: For an index to these records, see the Scottish Church Records Index available on computer at the Family History Library and family history centers. Some records be indexed in the FamilySearch.org.
Births: Birth records are intermixed with marriages until May 1643. There is a separate record for June 1643–December 1649 and no entries December 1649–January 1657, June 1670–July 1672. A separate record of births begins July 1672 and there are only six entries July 1681–August 1684. Entries 1736–1773 are tabulated except June 1643–December 1649. Mother's names are not recorded until January 1670.They are intermixed with marriages again January 1657–1670.
Marriages: There are no entries March 1654–January1657, May 1670–April 1678, March 1681–October 1684, July 1690–November 1691, one for May 1696–October 1698, December 1718–July 1720, January 1724–October 1725, August 1795–October 1796 and no entries for 1810. There is a duplicate record 1796–1824 and after 1773, the fact of marriage is rarely added to the entry of contract or proclamation.
Deaths: Deaths and burials until June 1779, then deaths only. There are no entries September 1798–1833 except one for 1829.
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 Kirk 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 survivng Kirk session records for this parish:
Minutes and Accounts 1654–1913
Minutes 1641–1654 are found in the Old Parish Records, 402/1
Seat Letting Cash Books 1834–1934
Rental Book of Kirk Session Lands 1780–1807
Churchyard Burial Register 1855–1879
Note: Available at St. Andrews University Library, St. Andrews, Fife, Scotland, record CH2/625.
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.
According to the New Statistical Accountant of Scotland for 1837, there are three Dissenting meeting houses in this parish Burgher, Independent Congregational, and Baptist. The families connected with them, belonging to the parish, are in all about thirty–three. There is also a Bible and Missionary Society, composed of members belonging to the different denominations of Dissenters.
Anstruther Seccesion Church
In 1770, several persons belonging to the General Associate Antiburgher branch of the Secession built a place of worship at St. Monance, between Anstruther and Elie, and had it supplied with sermon. In 1818, some persons who attended classes taught by Secession students adopted their principles and made application to the Associate Burgher Presbytery of Perth. They were accepted and formed a congregation. When the union of these two branches occurred in 1820, the place of worship at St. Monance was abandoned and a church was built at Anstruther.
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.
Manager’s Minutes 1818–1904
Session Minutes 1833–1854
Communion Rolls 1852–1881
Note: Available at the St. Andrews University Library, St. Andrews, Fife, Scotland, record CH3/1559.
Anstruther Free Church
The minister of the parish adhered to the Free Church in 1843 and formed a congregation.
Membership: 1848, 380; 1900, 397.
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.
Baptismal Rolls 1843–1847
Deacon’s Court Minutes 1844–1901
Other post-1855 records
Note: Available at St. Andrews University Library, St. Andrews, Fife, Scotland, record CH3/1560.
Anstruther Evangelical Union Church
This congregation came into being about 1800 through missionary work. For a time the church prospered, but secessions to the Baptists and the Bereans in 1812 and 1830 reduced its membership. The congregation ceased to meet sometime before 1848. An Evangelical Union congregation started here in 1844 and officially joined the Union in 1861. The church ceased in 1919.
Source: A History of Scottish Congregationalism by Harry Escott, pub. 1960. Includes lists of ministers. Family History Library book 941 K2es.
The extent of pre-1855 records is unknown. Contact:
The United Reformed Church, Scottish Synod Office
PO Box 189
240 Cathedral Street
Glasgow G1 2BX
Anstruther Baptist Church
Baptist history in Anstruther began in 1812. Meetings were held regularly up to 1820 when troubles arose, which split the body into two sects Baptists and Paedo–Baptists, until the new Independent Chapel was built, opening in 1883. The Baptists, being 20 in number, retained the meeting house, which had been built in 1860. The group had worshiped without an official pastor until 1859 when the first was set apart for the work. A separate church was formed at Pittenweem in 1901.
Source: History of the Baptists in Scotland, by Rev. George Yuille, pub. 1926. Family History Library book 941 K2hi. Gives further details including names of ministers.
The extent of pre-1855 records is unknown. For more information write to:
The Baptist Union of Scotland
12 Aytoun Road
Glasgow G41 5RT
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.
Anstruther-Easter 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.
[Return to Fife parish list.]