Carnock, Fife, Scotland Genealogy

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Scotland Gotoarrow.png Fife Gotoarrow.png Carnock

Parish #414

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


CARNOCK, a parish, in the district of Dunfermline, county of Fife, 3 miles (W. N. W.) from Dunfermline; containing the village of Cairney-hill, and the hamlet of Gowkhall. This place originally included only the barony of Carnock, and the lands of Blair, and Easter and Wester Camps; but in 1650, the Pitdennies, the lands of Luscar, and those of Clune, which formed part of the parish of Dunfermline, were, by act of the presbytery, annexed to this parish. The church, erected in 1841, is a handsome cruciform structure in the Norman style, with a graceful spire, and contains 400 sittings, with arrangements for the erection of galleries, if requisite, for 200 more; in the churchyard, are considerable remains of the ancient church. There is a place of worship for members of the Free Church; also a meeting-house in connexion with the United Secession Synod.[1]

The words cair or cairn and knock signify 'a cairn or barrows on a hill.'  The whole extent of the parish is about 9 square miles or 2260 square acres.  1665 acres are cultivated and 450 are in woods.  Coal is wrought on the estate of Blair in the west of the parish.  Freestone is quarried in several place, principally on the estate of Carnock.  A considerable number of sheep are grazed in the parish.  The cattle commonly reared are the Fife and Teeswater.  Wheat, barley, oats, beans, potatoes, turnips, and hay are produced.  There are no spinning-mills nor public manufactures in the parish.  There is no market-town in the parish.  The nearest if Dunfermline.  Only one fair is held in the parish, in May, and it is chiefly a cattle and shoe market.  There are five inns or alehouses in the parish.  Coal is the only fuel used in the parish, and it is procured either at the Blair colliery or from Dunfermline.

The population of the parish in 1755 was 583, in 1791 was 970, and in 1841 was 1269.  The average number of births for the last seven years is 33, of marriages is 10, and of deaths is 21.  The number of inhabited houses is 251.  The former parish church stood near the village of Carnock.  It was built in the 16th century, but it was condemned in 1838.  A new church, with seating for 400, was opened in May 1840 a short distance from the old church.  The number of persons belonging to the Established Church is 652, in 127 families, but some are in the habit of attending worship in neighbouring parishes.  There is one Dissenting meeting-house in the parish, situated in the village of Cairneyhill, and seats 400.  The congregation belongs to the United Associate Synod.  The number of Dissenters of all denominations is 598.  Two are Episcopalians, one a Roman Cathokic, and the remainder adher to the United Secession, the Relief, and the Original Burghers and attend places of worship in Dunfermline.  Those not belonging to any denomination number 19.

There are two schools in the parish--one the parochial school in Carnock village, and the other, a female school, at Cairneyhill.  The number of children in school was 210 in 1834.  Of late it has been less, owning to the depression of trade.  There are two libraries in the parish, in the two villages.

The above extract is from the account written in January 1843.

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  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 Carnock as well as the library numbers for any surname indexes available: 

Year Family History Library Film Number Surname Indexes
1841      1042700 book 941.33 X22s; films 1145982-3; CD-ROM no. 1075
1851 1042253 941.33 X22f
1861 0103826 CD-ROM no. 2524
1871 0103988 None
1881 0203518 6086574 (set of 8 fiche)
1891 0208749 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 Family History Library Film Number
Births: 1652-1792 1040153 items 3-4
1792-1854 1040154items 1-2
Marriages: 1652-1694, 1700-1721 1040153 items 3-4
1780-1854 1040154 items 1-2
Deaths: 1654-1688, 1600-1621 1040153 items 3-4
1753-1854 1040154 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: There is a duplicate record from 1652–1679. Pages are blank from January 1694–1706. Mother's names are seldom recorded until 1752 except from December 1660–February 1679 and 1706–1713.
Marriages: There is a duplicate record from 1652–1678and no entries for 1691. The pages are blank from March 1694–March 1700. From March 1700–August 1721 the only entries are of those persons who paid the statutory fees. The records are blank from August 1721–October 1780. Both proclamations and marriages are recorded after 1780.
Deaths: Deaths and burials are recorded prior to 1678. There is a duplicate record from 1653–1678. The records are blank from November 1688–December 1699. There are transcribed entries of Mortcloth Dues from 1699–1721. Records are blank again from August 1721–December 1753. There are burials only from 1753 on.
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 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:

Minutes 1699–1949
Cash Book 1753–1779, 1814–1839
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/59.

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.

Carnock Relief Church

The minister of the parish, Mr. Thomas Gillespie, was deposed by the General Assembly in 1752 when he, along with other members of his Presbytery, refused to acquiesce to the settlement of a new minister at Inverkeithing.  His deposition gave rise to a new sect of Dissenters, and he is considered the founder of the Presbytery of Relief.  But he remained partial to the Establishment to the end of his life, and on his deathbed, he advised his congregation to apply to the Established Church, after his decease, to be restored to her communion, which they afterwards successfully did.  He died in 1774, so this congregation then ceased connection with the Relief Presbytery and rejoined the Established Church.

Source:  The New Statistical Account of Scotland, for Carnock, dated 1843.  Family History Library book 941 B4sa, series 2, vol. 9, pp. 701-2.    

Extent of records, if any, unknown.  They may have been incorporated into the parish registers.

Cairneyhill United Presbyterian Church

A praying society in the parish of Torryburn acceded to the Associate Presbytery in 1737. It was made up partially of residents of Carnock. Seceders from the parish of Culross also joined with these and they became connected with an Associate congregation in Dunfermline. At the Breach in 1747, the portion adhering to the General Associate Anti-burgher Synod formed a separate congregation with Cairneyhill as its seat. A church was built in 1752. Many of the members were from Dunfermline and they eventually broke away and formed the Chalmers Street congregation in Dunfermline.
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—                       Family History Library Film Number
Baptisms 1741–1810         0889477
Marriages 1754–1810        0889477
Session Minutes 1754–1866
Collection Book 1779–1911
Treasurer's Account Book 1835–1894
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH3/340.

Carnock Free Church

The minister of the parish and many of his parishioners came out at the Disruption. A church was built and opened in 1843. A new church was built in 1898–1899. The opening of the Forth Iron Works at Oakley brought a great increase of membership in the 1850 and1860, but by the closing of the works it was much reduced in numbers.
Membership: 1848, 165; 1900, 109.
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.

The extent of pre-1855 records is unknown.

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

History—  Unavailable.
Records—                                      Family History Library Film Number
Record of Members early to 1883      0104154 item 18

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

Carnock was under the probate jurisdiction of the Commissary Court of Dunblane 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 librarycatalog 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. 163-185. Adapted. Date accessed: 25 April 2014.

[Return to the Fife parish list.]