Records of united burghs of Anstruther Easter, Anstruther Wester and Kilrenny, Fife

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

Anstruther Wester: Court book, 1708-1744; Town council minutes, 1741-1929. Kilrenny: Town council minutes, 1613-1929; Police commissioners minutes, 1848-1893. Anstruther Easter: Town council minutes, 1691-1749, 1753-1929; Court book, 1726-1731; Police commissioners minutes, 1841-1893; New Town Hall accounts, 1870-1872. United burgh: Town council minutes, 1929-1974; Charities' committee minutes and journal, 1944-1974; Assessment roll, 1974-1975; Abstracts of accounts, undated; Miscellaneous documents, undated, including gift by Bonnie Prince Charlie to Anstruther Wester magistrates, 1745. Admiralty Court book, East Fife, 1738-1775; Anstruther Sea Box Society minutes, 1838-1943; Pittenweem Sea Box Society minutes and accounts, 1653-1757, 1787-1840; Unidentified solicitor's business ledgers, 1924-1939, 1943-1946

Administrative / Biographical History

The Royal Burgh of Anstruther Easter, later Anstruther Easter Town Council, (1583-1930) was created a burgh of barony by King James VI (1567-1625) for John Anstruther of that Ilk in 1572, and in 1583 it became a royal burgh.

The Royal Burgh of Anstruther Wester, later Anstruther Wester Town Council (1587-1930), was created a burgh of barony for the Prior of Pittenweem in 1541, and in 1587 it became a royal burgh. Royal burghs normally had elected councillors who looked after the burgh's interests, but only a small number of inhabitants had the right to vote in the council elections or to be a councillor. Burgh courts were held, which had some civil and criminal jurisdiction, although these competencies were eroded as time passed and the cases were increasingly petty local disputes.

The Royal Burgh of Kilrenny (1592-1930), later Kilrenny Town Council, was erected a burgh of regality in 1578 by Patrick, Archbishop of St Andrews (confirmed by King James VI (1567-1625)) in favour of John Betoun of Balfour. The burgh's name was accidentally enrolled by the Convention of Royal Burghs in 1592, but it was permitted representation at Parliament despite an attempt to resign its status in 1672. Kilrenny consisted of the rural village of Upper Kilrenny, and the fishing village of Cellardyke.

The franchise for parliamentary elections was radically changed in 1832, and the Royal Burghs (Scotland) Act 1833 (3 and 4 Will. IV, c.76) imitated the change for the election of councillors. By the Representation of the People (Scotland) Act 1832 (2 and 3 Will. IV, c.65) Anstruther Easter, Anstruther Wester, Kilrenny and four other burghs were combined within the St Andrews District of Burghs to elect an MP.

The Burgh Police (Scotland) Act 1833 (3 and 4 Will. IV, c.46) allowed any existing royal burgh to establish a police system with responsibility for the watching, cleansing, paving and lighting. This and later acts sometimes resulted in a dual administration, of police magistrates or commissioners, and town bailies and councillors. Anstruther Easter adopted certain clauses of the 1833 Act in 1841, and police commissioners were elected. In 1872 the commissioners adopted the General Police and Improvement (Scotland) Act 1862 (25 and 26 Vict., c.101). The town council became the police commissioners under the Act responsible for the cleansing, lighting, policing and public health of the burgh. Fishing was the main source of employment in the town, with associated enterprises. The population was 1,134 in 1891. Under the Town Councils (Scotland) Act 1900 (63 and 64 Vict., c.49) the police commissioners were replaced by Anstruther Easter Town Council in January 1901.

Anstruther Wester lost its municipal status in 1852, but it was recovered in 1869. The town never adopted the General Police and Improvement (Scotland) Act 1862 (25 and 26 Vict., c.101), under which police commissioners would have been responsible for the cleansing, lighting, policing and public health of the burgh, perhaps because the burgh was too small and the town council could manage its affairs as need be. Fishing was the main source of employment in the town, with associated enterprises. The population was 538 in 1891.

In 1841, rather irregularly, Kilrenny adopted certain clauses (concerning lighting and cleansing) of the Burgh Police (Scotland) Act 1833 (3 and 4 Will. IV, c.46), but limited to Cellardyke. The burgh was then administered by Managers appointed by the Court of Session in 1828, following irregularities at the 1823 election of councillors. The 1833 Act was more regularly adopted in 1848, and police commissioners elected under its terms. The rights of the royal burgh were restored in 1868. In 1879 the town council adopted the General Police and Improvement (Scotland) Act 1862 (25 and 26 Vict., c.101); the police commissioners had adopted the Act for their area (Cellardyke) in 1872. The police commissioners' authority now extended to the whole royal burgh. The population was 2,730 in 1881. Under the Town Councils (Scotland) Act 1900 (63 and 64 Vict., c.49) the police commissioners were replaced by Kilrenny Town Council in January 1901.

Under the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1929 (19 and 20 Geo. V, c.25), the royal burghs of Anstruther Easter and Anstruther Wester and the burgh of Kilrenny were amalgamated to create the United Burghs of Kilrenny, Anstruther Easter and Anstruther Wester. The population was 3,037 in 1971. Kilrenny, Anstruther Easter and Anstruther Wester Town Council was abolished in 1975 under the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973 (c.65). Its powers were assumed by Fife Regional Council and North East Fife District Council. These in turn were replaced by Fife Council in 1996 under the Local Government etc. (Scotland) Act 1994 (c. 39).

Conditions Governing Access

By appointment with the Archivist. Access to unpublished records less than 30 years old and other records containing confidential information may be restricted. Special conditions apply to photographs.

Acquisition Information

Held under charge and superintendence of the Keeper of Records for Scotland.

Note

Description compiled by Rachel Hart, Archives Hub Project, based on description created by Alan Borthwick, Scottish Archive Network project, 27 February 2003 and modified on 5 August 2003.

Other Finding Aids

Typescript catalogue available in St Andrews University Library Department of Special Collections and in National Archives of Scotland search rooms.

Conditions Governing Use

Applications for permission to quote should be sent to the University Archivist. Reproduction subject to usual conditions: educational use and condition of documents.