Cupar, Fife, Scotland Genealogy

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Scotland Gotoarrow.png Fife Gotoarrow.png Cupar

Parish #420

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


CUPAR, a burgh, market-town, and parish, in the district of Cupar, county of Fife; including the villages of Gladney and Springfield, 9 miles (W.) from St. Andrew's, and 30 (N. by E.) from Edinburgh. This place is of considerable antiquity, and was noted at an early period for the strength of its castle, erected at the extremity of a high mound extending along the bank of the Ladyburn rivulet. The church was erected in 1785, and has been altered and enlarged from time to time; and another church, called St. Michael's, has been built. There is an episcopal chapel, a very handsome building; also places of worship for members of the Free Church, the Relief Connexion, Old Light Burghers, Baptists, and Glasites.[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 Click on ‘Browse scanned pages’ then search the parish reports for your parish of interest. 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 Cupar as well as the library numbers for any surname indexes available:

Year Family History Library Film Number Surname Indexes
1841     Missing None
1851 1042254 941.33 X22f
1861 0103826 CD-ROM no. 2524
1871 0103988 None
1881 0203519 6086574 (8 fiche)
1891 0208751 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

Record Type Years Covered Family History Library Film Number
Births: 1654-1739 1040100 items 4-5
1739-1854 1040101
Marriages: 1654-1738 1040100 items 4-5
1739-1854 1040101
Deaths: 1654-1739 1040100 items 4-5
1739-1854 1040101
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.
Births: From 1654–1817 births are recorded in the same register book with marriages and deaths: births on left hand pages, marriages and deaths on right hand pages. The records are incomplete 1696–1701 except for three, February 1716–November 1718. Mother's names are seldom recorded in entries 1688–July 1769.
Marriages: There are no entries January 1687–November 1703 and December 1715–June 1719 and they are incomplete 1738–1740.
Deaths: There are no death or burial entries March 1697–December 1702. There is a separate record of births, marriages and deaths after January 1817.
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:

Old Kirk Session

Various Minutes 1838–1913
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/753.

St. Michael's Kirk Session

Cash Book 1844–1878
Note: Available at St. Andrews University Library, St. Andrews, Fife, Scotland, record CH2/753.

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.

Boston United Presbyterian, formerly First Relief Church

Adverse circumstances in the parish church caused some members to withdraw and apply to the Relief Presbytery of Dysart about 1770. A church was built and at first called Westport; their name was changed to Boston in 1849. It became United Presbyterian at the union in 1847.
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
Relief Session Minutes 1813–1871                    1484197 items 1-3
     (Including some christenings, and marriages)
Manager’s Minutes 1828–1866                          1484198 items 1–3

Provost Wynd Relief Church, extinct

In 1829, 271 members and 108 adherents of the First Relief congregation of Cupar applied to the Relief Presbytery of Dysart to be disjoined from that congregation and formed into a separate congregation, which was allowed. A church was built in 1830. After the union of the Secession and Relief Churches in 1847, the congregation dispersed and the place of worship was sold to the Baptists.
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.

The extent of pre-1855 records is unknown.

Bonnygate Associate Presbyterian Church

A praying society in Cupar acceded to the Associate Presbytery in 1740. They were joined by some elders from the parish of Monimail who had also withdrawn from the established church. A congregation was formed the following year and sermon was supplied by the Presbytery. The congregation was joined by several parishioners from Monsie in 1742. The congregation then met in Ceres. In 1793 the members from the Cupar area disjoined from Ceres and formed a separate congregation. A church was built in 1794 and enlarged in 1830, and a new church was built in 1866, with seating for 650.
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.

The extent of pre-1855 records is unknown.

Cupar Free Church

The minister with a large congregation came out in 1843. Depopulation of the rural district in the vicinity largely accounts for the decrease in membership.
Membership: 1848, 800; 1900, 472.
Source: Annals of the Free Church of Scotland, 1843–1900, ed. Rev. William Ewing, D.D., 2 vols. pub. 1914. Film #918572. More details are given in the source including ministers.

Records—                               Family History Library Film Number
Baptisms 1837–1854                1068235 item 10
Communicants 1837–1853        1069235 item 10

Cupar Congregational Church

Founded in 1800, this was a Glasite Church, which united with the Baptists in 1838.
Source: A History of Scottish Congregationalism, by Harry Escott, pub. 1960.Family History Library book 941 K2es.

The extent of pre–1855 records is unknown. See Baptist church below.

Cupar Baptist Church

It was founded in 1816 and became a strong church that was able to help the cause in other areas. During the first half of the 19th century the congregation had to move twice to new accommodations due to growth. There is still a church in Cupar today.
Source: History of the Baptists in Scotland, by Rev. Geo. Yuille, ed., pub. 1926. Book 941 K2hi. See also, The Baptists in Scotland: A History, by D. W. Bebbington, ed., pub. 1988. Book 941 K2bs.

The extent of pre-1855 records is unknown. Contact:
Baptist Union of Scotland
14 Aytoun Road
Glasgow G41 5RT

Cupar Scottish Episcopal Church

No history is available. There was an Episcopal church here as early as 1835.


The extent of pre-1855 records is unknown. Contact the parish priest at;
St. Jame's Rectory
33 Millbank
Cupar KY15 5DP

Cupar Roman Catholic Church

Founded in 1847; closed in 1856; reopened in 1864. No separate early registers recorded in Kirkcaldy until 1875.

See Kirkcaldy parish.


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

Cupar 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. 246-259. Adapted. Date accessed: 25 April 2014.

[Return to the Fife parish list.]