Records of the burgh of Cupar, Fife

Scope and Content

Registers of deeds, protests etc, 1614-1624, 1660-1681, 1716-1724, 1760-1862; Registers of protests, 1809-1852; Court and council books, 1549-1554, 1626-1653, 1657-1687; Court book (diet), 1699-1740; Court book (acts), 1760-1815; Registers of decreets, 1716-1773, 1830-1859; Register of cautions in lawburrows, 1765-1817; Burgess lists/admissions, 1699-1771, 1795-1814; Council minutes, 1685-1975; Police commissioners minutes, 1859-1900; Dean of Guild Court: Act book, 1904-1975. Accounts: Common Good, 1789-1807, treasurer's, 1820-1834, police commissioners, 1871-1880, town council, 1834-1898; Rental book, 1872-1898, 1937-1941; Weekly tenants Rent Roll, 1942-1946; 1946-1949. Valuation rolls, 1903-1930, 1953-1975 (incomplete run); Abstracts of accounts, 1901, 1904-1909, 1911-1923, 1925-1950, 1957-1963, 1967-1974. Minute Book of Commissioners for erecting a new jail, 1809-1815; Registers of Mortgages (Water Act), 1875-1930; Register of Houses (Rent and Mortgage Restrictions Amendment Act, 1933), 1933-1938; Register of Bonds (Public Health Act), 1898-1969; Charter Book, 1784-1803; List of burgesses, 1824-1900; Licensing register and minutes, 1828-1902; St James burying ground rent book, 1904-1927; Minute Book of Duffus Park board of management, 1946-1971; Minute Book of joint committee with Fife County Council for Cupar Cemetery, 1835-1971; Fuel and Lighting Order 1939, Letter Book, 1939-1942; Town Council Letter Books, 1934-1939, 1949-1956; Sanitary Inspector's Letter Book, 1927-1938.; Collector's Cash Book, 1945-1951; Housing Cash Book, 1951-1952; List of buildings of special architectural or historic interest, 1967, 1972. Burgh chartes and associated legal documents, 1364-1830; Transcripts of burgh charters (1363-1595), 1812; Title deeds concerning lands in Cupar, 18th-20th cents. Incoporated Trades accounts/minutes, 1650-1843; Weavers' trade documents, 1668-1794; Guildry records: court book, 1599-1701, sederunt books, 1718-1903, act book, 1814-1824, cash book, 1809-1838, legal papers, 1822-1823, burgess/guildbrothers admissions, 1756-1789.

Administrative / Biographical History

Cupar (Fife) was a royal burgh by 1327. Thereafter it was a significant burgh, visited by most Scottish monarchs, it became the political capital of the county (Fife County Council's Head Quarters was based there when it was established in 1890), and a considerable trade occurred there. Local industries included selling and grinding of corn, brewing, malting, dyeing, tanning, flax-spinning and weaving of linen, and in the late 19th century there were three weekly newspapers.

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. By the Representation of the People (Scotland) Act 1832 (2 and 3 Will. IV, c.65) Cupar and six other burghs were combined within the St Andrews District of Burghs to elect an MP. 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.

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. Cupar adopted lighting clauses of the 1833 Act in 1834. Further clauses, concerning watching, paving and cleansing, were adopted in 1848, and police commissioners (separate from the Town Council) were elected to deal with these matters. In 1861, Cupar adopted the Police of Towns (Scotland) Act 1850 (13 and 14 Vict., c.33), and from 1870 parts of the General Police and Improvement (Scotland) Act 1862 (25 and 26 Vict., c.101) were adopted in various years. Under the Town Councils (Scotland) Act 1900 (63 and 64 Vict., c.49) the police commissioners were replaced by Cupar Town Council in January 1901. The population was 5,105 in 1871, and 6,603 in 1971.

Cupar 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).

Access Information

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 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.

Geographical Names