Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland Genealogy
This is a guide to the history and major genealogical records of Scotland as they pertain to the parish of Dunfermline. To learn more about how to use these records to search for your ancestors, go to the Scotland: Research Strategies.
DUNFERMLINE, a royal burgh, and parish, in the district of Dunfermline, county of Fife; including the villages of Charlestown, Crossford, Halbeath, Limekilns, Mastertown, Patiemuir, North Queensferry, and part of Crossgates; 12 miles (W. by S.) from Kirkcaldy, and 16 (N. W.) from Edinburgh. This place, which is of great antiquity, is supposed to have derived its name, signifying in the Gaelic language "the castle on the winding stream," or "the watch-tower upon the stream," from the erection of a castle on the summit of a peninsulated eminence in the glen of Pittencrieff, by Malcolm Canmore, about the year 1056. The church, once a portion of the ancient abbey, and but ill adapted to its purpose, was rebuilt in 1821 to the east of the former nave, which is now its western approach. It is an elegant cruciform structure in the later English style, with a square embattled tower rising from the centre to the height of 100 feet, and crowned with pinnacles. The church contains 1400 available sittings. A church dedicated to St. Andrew was built in 1833, to replace an old chapel of ease which had become dilapidated; and in 1835 a district of the parish was assigned to it and for a short time formed a quoad sacra parish. It is a neat edifice containing 797 sittings. An extension church, also, was erected at the east end of Golfdrum, in 1840 and a district in the neighbourhood, with a population of about 3000, was formerly attached to it: the edifice contains 800 sittings. There was till 1843 a quoad sacra church in Canmore-street; but on the induction of its minister to the parish of Thurso, the congregation dispersed, and a Free church was built on its site in 1844. The parish likewise contains several places of worship for members of the United Associate Synod, one for the Relief Congregation, which was the first established in Scotland, one each for Baptists and Independents, and an Episcopalian chapel.
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 your parish of interest. 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 known surname indexes to the census records of Fife, including Dunfermline, and their Family History Library call numbers:
|1861||CD-ROM no. 2524|
|1881||FHL 6086574(set of 8 fiche)|
The 1841-1901 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.
Also the 1841-1911 census is being indexed on www.findmypast.co.uk.
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:||1561-1652||FHL 1949126 items 4-5|
|1652-1714, 1687-1756||FHL 1040102|
|1819-1849 w/partial index to fathers||FHL 1040105|
|1836-1854, 1821-1847 (transcripts)||FHL 1040106|
|1833-1854 (neglected entries), index 1834-1854||FHL 1040107 items 1-3|
|Marriages:||1561-1652||FHL 1040126 items 4-5|
|1652-1710, 1687-1745||FHL 1040102|
|1791 (one page)||FHL 1040103|
|1848-1854||FHL 1040107 items 1-3|
|Deaths:||1617-1643, 1653-1657 (burials)||FHL 1040105|
|1825-1854||FHL 1040107 items 1-3|
Conditions 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 recorded on parallel columns with marriages 1561–1745. There are no entries February 1591–July 1598. There are few entries June 1701–March 1703 and two separate records October 1687–December 1714. After 1772 a large number of entries occur on the margin of the register. The early records are beautifully kept.
Marriages: There are no entries February 1591–July 1598, June 1701–March 1703 and August 1734–May 1750. After 1750 there is a separate record of proclamations and marriages.
Deaths: There are no entries March 1657–January 1745 and June 1755–1825.
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 1640–1689, 1701–1915
Cash Book 1786–1938
Index to Certificates Given by the Kirk session 1746–1826
Index to Sustained Certificates 1746–1826
Communion Rolls 1821–1949
List of Male Heads of Families 1834–1842
Burial Registers 1761–1857, 1866–1867 A book has been produced by Sheila Pitcairn that can be purchased that shows this burial register with index to transcribed entries. This book is available to be looked at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/592.
FHL Film Number
Baptismal Register 1851–1920 0889489
Marriage Registers 1851–1902 0889489
Communion Statistics 1851–1896
New Communicants 1851–1901
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/641.
Dunfermline St. Andrew's
Minutes 1835–1843, 1851–1950
Manager’s Minutes 1832–1888
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/1321.
Nonconformist Church Records
For a list of nonconformist churches and their records, click here.
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.
Dunfermline 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.
- Lewis, Samuel A., A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland (1846), pp. 320-349. Adapted. Date accessed: 25 April 2014.
[Return to the Fife parish list.]