Records of Balmerino Kirk Session

Scope and Content

Minutes, 1696-1753 and 1857-1953; Accounts, 1690-1787; Minutes and accounts, 1745-1751 and 1755-1780; Communion roll, 1872-1929; Proclamations and births, 1696-1820; Births and baptisms, 1820-1870; Register of deaths and burials, 1744-1762 and 1823-1856; Proclamations and marriages, 1820-1893; Register of births, 1855-1856; Proclamations, 1893-1978; Accounts, 1729-1787; Cash book, 1857-1922.

Administrative / Biographical History

The church of Balmerino held a dedication to St Marnoch and it belonged, prior to the reformation, to the Abbey of Balmerino which was destroyed in 1547, ruins of which still stand today. The present day parish church of Balmerino was built in 1811. In 1937, following the 1929 union of the Church of Scotland and the United Free Church, Balmerino was joined with the former United Free church congregation of Gauldry, remaining after the union under the name of Balmerino. Balmerino declared a vacancy between the years of 1978 and 1984 and following this period a link was established with Wormit in January 1984. The kirk session sat within the Presbytery of Cupar until the restructuring of the presbyteries in 1976, when it became part 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).

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 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 CH3/Gauldry and Logie United Free Church records

Geographical Names