Records of the Presbytery of St Andrews, Fife

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

Minutes, 1585-1605, 1641-1687 and 1693-1907; Scroll minutes, 1765-1774; Separate register, 1745-1932; Register of parochial benefices, 1801.

Administrative / Biographical History

It is thought that the Presbytery of St Andrews was first erected in 1581 and the register of the presbytery commences on the 13th October 1586. For a brief time between the years of 1687 and 1693 the Presbytery of St Andrews, which formerly sat within the Synod of Fife, was united with the Presbytery of Cupar.

The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland of 1581 set down a pattern of presbyteries, and an Act of the Scottish parliament (c.8, 1592) which finally established the Presbyterian system in Scotland made reference to the powers of the Presbytery. The Presbytery superintends the kirk sessions and ecclesiastical activity within its boundaries, and also elects the ministers and elders who are to attend the annual General Assembly. As a court presbyteries have the power of review of decisions taken by kirk sessions or congregations. Its membership comprises ministers, certain elders and (from 1990) members of the diaconate within its bounds. The Presbytery's main officials are a moderator (effectively chairman), clerk and treasurer. Presbyteries meet more or less monthly.

The General Assembly has the power to unite, disjoin or erect presbyteries. A very significant adjustment was undertaken in 1976 on the reorganisation of local government in Scotland. Presbyteries were the level below the synods, but synods were dissolved as from 1 January 1993.

The Presbytery includes amongst its tasks the oversight of records (eg kirk session minutes, accounts, communion rolls) produced by each Kirk Session. Within each five-year period it will formally visit each congregation. When a congregation lacks a minister, then the Presbytery has an important role in ensuring that the spiritual needs of the congregation are fully met, fulfilling its responsibility for the spiritual well-being for all parishes within its bounds. The Presbytery will appoint an interim moderator to make arrangements for continuing services and the election of a new minister. Presbyteries have the duty of caring for the well-being of its ministers, and for those who are candidates for the ministry.

Source: Hew Scott and others (ed.), Fasti Ecclesiae Scoticanae, vol. 4 (Edinburgh, 1915-2000).

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 Lesley Doig and modified by Alan Borthwick, Scottish Archive Network project.

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.

Geographical Names