Records of Ceres Kirk Session

Scope and Content

Minutes, 1644-1697, 1700-1717, 1740-1958, 1889-1902, 1901-1921; Cash book, 1700-1710, 1740-1757, 1783-1801 and 1819-1851; Poor's fund accounts, 1835-1844; Baptismal register, 1856-1861 and 1910; Proclamation register, 1856-1953; Communion roll, 1842-1856, 1870-1881, 1885-1899, 1906-1912, 1920-1922 and 1933-1969; Congregation roll, 1878; Poor's committee minutes, 1843-1846; Parochial board minutes, 1844-1857 and 1885-1904; Congregational board minutes, 1936-1984; Property registers, 1956-1959 and 1970-1982.

Administrative / Biographical History

The rectory of Ceres formerly belonged to the collegiate church of St Mary and the kirk session records ministry from 1560, in the person of Patrick Coustun. The present day parish church was erected in 1806 on the site of its predecessor. The former Ceres and Strathkinness United Free Church was united with this charge in 1929 on the union of the United Free Church of Scotland and the Church of Scotland. In 1983 Ceres established a link with Springfield and the two charges later united in 1989, under the name of Ceres and Springfield. The kirk session formerly sat within the Presbytery of Cupar and presently falls under the jurisdiction of 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 CH2/478 Records of Springfield Kirk SessionGB 227 CH3/55 Records of Ceres Free Church