Minutes, 1578, 1587-1593, 1598-1651, 1759-1786 and 1818-1961; Minutes and accounts, 1700-1818; Accounts, 1787-1808; Cash book, 1808-1915 and 1921-1961; Church door collections, 1855-1900 and 1931-1961; Mortcloth minutes and accounts, 1670-1820; Printed confession of Faith, 1765-1949; Cartulary, 1880-1955; Copy of will of Lt Andrew Waid, 1800; Extract from Edinburgh Gazette, 1879; Register of baptisms, 1855-1961; Register of marriages, 1855-1961; Communion roll, 1873-1960; Property register, 1956.
Records of Anstruther Wester Kirk Session
Scope and Content
Administrative / Biographical History
The church of Anstruther Wester was dedicated to St Ethernan and belonged, prior to the reformation of 1560, to the Priory of Pittenweem. In 1961 Anstruther Wester and Anstruther Easter were united to form the session of Anstruther St Adrian's, and a further union followed in 1973 between Anstruther St Adrian's and Anstruther Chalmers' Memorial, under the name of Anstruther. The kirk session 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).
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.
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.
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