Records of Pittenweem Kirk Session

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

Accounts, 1650-1662 and 1790-1820; Penalties paid, 1650-1661; Debursement of penalties, 1650-1662; Accounts of 'pands' received for marriages, 1650-1662; Minutes, 1653-1655 and 1819-1941; Minutes and accounts, 1685-1816; Scroll minutes, 1895-1942; Scroll minutes and accounts, 1725-1729 and 1738; Treasurer's accounts, 1813-1832 and 1851-1883; Collections, 1814-1823; Baptismal register, 1855-1941; Marriage register, 1855-1941; Charter by Strang, burgess of burgh of Pittenweem, to Susan Lumisdane, 1612; Account of fees paid for proclamations and baptisms, 1827; Miscellaneous papers, 17th and 18th cent; Cash book, 1895-1936; Seat letting book, 1941-1959; Communion roll, 1872-1884 and 1889-1957; Proclamation register, 1941-1980; Congregational Board minutes, 1941-1993.

Administrative / Biographical History

On the 8th November 1588 the lands of the parish of Pittenweem were disjoined from that of Anstruther Wester by Royal Charter of King James VI, and the parish itself was erected by Act of Parliament on the 28th June 1633. The parish church was built in 1588 and later restored in 1883. In 1941, following the 1929 union of the Church of Scotland and the United Free Church, Pittenweem parish church (known after 1929 as Pittenweem St Adrian) was joined with the former United Free Church congregation of Pittenweem St Fillan's. The two charges united under the name of Pittenweem and after the union the former United Free church was converted for use as a church hall. The kirk session of Pittenweem, which was linked in 1971 with Carnbee, sits within the Presbytery of St Andrews.

Each congregation of the Church of Scotland has a Kirk Session, which comprises the minister(s) and the ruling elders, all members of the Session (including the minister) being elders. The elders' duty is care for the spiritual needs of the congregation; each of them has a district of the parish assigned to him/her. The Kirk Session determines the number of elders. The minister is moderator of the Session, and there is a clerk who has custody of all the Session's records. There may also be a treasurer, and an officer or beadle. The Session must have maintained a communion roll, containing the names and addresses of the communicant church members within the parish.

The Kirk Session's duties are to maintain good order amongst its congregation (including administering discipline and superintending the moral and religious condition of the parish), and to implement the Acts of the General Assembly. The Kirk Session is at the base of the pyramid of church courts, and it is subject to the review of the Presbytery in which it is situated, and to the superior courts of the Church. Each Kirk Session elects one of its number to represent it at the Presbytery (and formerly at the Synod).

Into the 19th century, there used to be weekly collections made for the support of the poor, but as the state began to assume responsibility for their support (by means of taxation) so funds collected from communicants might be directed to special schemes (eg support of missionaries), more recently through a weekly freewill offering scheme. Seat or pew rents were also quite common (money paid for a fixed seat in a church), but declined rapidly from the 1950s. Many congregations now have a congregational board, which monitors income and expenditure. Former Free Church congregations often had Deacons' Courts, which had responsibility for the whole property of the congregation, and had to apply spiritual principles in the conduct of their affairs.

Sources: Hew Scott and others (ed.), Fasti Ecclesiae Scoticanae, vols. 5 and 8-11 (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.


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.

Related Material

GB 227 CH2/1032 Records of Carnbee Kirk Session

Geographical Names