Balmerino, Fife, Scotland Genealogy

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Balmerino #409

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


BALMERINO, a parish, in the district of Cupar, county of Fife, 5 miles (W.) from Newport; containing the villages of Kirkton and Galdry. This place, of which the name, of Celtic origin, signifies "the town of the sea," or "Sailors' town," most probably derived that appellation from its position on the estuary of the river Tay. The parish is bounded on the north by the Frith of Tay. The church, a neat and substantial edifice of stone, erected in 1811, is nearly in the centre of the parish.[1]

The name of his parish, which is also Balmurynach or Balmerinoch, is a compound of two Gaelic words signifying 'Sailor's Town.'   Anciently, the Picts had sole possession of the area for over a thousand years (until the 10th century).  The small village on the banks of the estuary of the River Tay became a summer residence for royalty in the late 12th century.  Alexander II and his mother Queen Emergarde founded an abbey there in 1229 which was demolished in 1558.  The ruins can still be seen. The castle of Naughton is also in ruins. The terrain is hilly.

The two villages in the parish are Kirkton and Balmerino.  The parish has an especially healthy climate.  Many people live past 80.  There is an unusual number of twins and other multiple births.  The population in 1755 was 565, in 1791 was 703, and in 1837 was 1070.  The yearly average of births for the last seven years is 27 and of marriages 6.  In the last three years there have been three illegitimate births.  There is no register of deaths kept. 

The number of individuals employed in weaving is about 150 and the rest are chiefly engaged in agriculture.  There are 2694 acres in cultivation and 467 in woods.  Various grains and potatoes are grown and cattle are raised, which are fed on turnips and hay.  The produce of salmon fishing, which used to be immense, has not for some years past paid rent and wages (caused by legislation passed in 1812 to limit a certain type of net fishing in the estuaries).  In the past, wheat was shipped from the Tay, but no more.  However, potatoes are shipped to the London market. There is neither a market or a post office in the parish.  Coal is the chief source of fuel.

The parish church is situated about the center of the parish and has seating for 400.  It was finished in 1811.  The number of families attending the Established Church is 195, and of Dissenting or Seceding families is 20.  There are two schools in the parish including the parochial school.  About 165 students attend school in the winter.

The above extract is from the account written in February 1838.

Source: The New Statistical Account of Scotland, for Fife.  FHL book 942 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  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 Balmerino as well as the library numbers for any surname indexes available: 

Year FHL Film Number Surname Indexes
1841      Missing 941.33 X22s 1841 v. 1
1851 1042253 941.33 X22f
1861 0103825 CD-ROM no. 2524
1871 0103987 None
1881 0203517 6086574 (8 fiche)
1891 0208748 None

The 1901 census of Scotland is indexed on 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: 1632-1674, 1690-1820 1040194 items 6-7
1829-1854 1040150 item 1
Marriages: 1631-1674, 1690-1820 1040194 items 6-7
1820-1855 1040150 item 1
Deaths: 1747-1762 1040194 items 6-7

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 until 1782, after which they occur on alternate pages of the register. There is a duplicate of record 1652–1657 and 1690–1712 and it is incomplete 1782–1784. Mother's names are not recorded in entries until 1784 and frequently omitted after 1784.
Marriages: Marriages are intermixed with births until 1782, after which they occur on alternate pages of the register. There is a duplicate of record 1652–1657 and 1690–1712 and the record is incomplete 1782–1787. The records are not very carefully kept after 1782.
Deaths: Burials - See also Kirk Sessions below.
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 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:

Minutes 1696–1753
Minutes and Accounts 1745–1780
Accounts 1690–1787
Deaths and Burials 1744–1762
Note: Available at St. Andrews University Library, St. Andrews, Fife, Scotland, record CH2/1540.

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.

The number of families attending the chapels of Dissenters and Seceders in 1838 was 20. These would probably have attended church in neighboring parishes as there were no chapels in Balmerino.

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

Balmerino 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 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. 91-101. Adapted. Date accessed: 24 April 2014.

[Return to the Fife parish list.]