Records of the burgh of St Andrews, Fife

Scope and Content

Chartularies, 1550-1866, including 'The Black Book' and 'The Brown Book'; Register of Salmon Fishing Leases, 1842-1899; Registers of deeds, 1692-1699, 1706-1711, 1726-1771, 1778-1891; Register of protests, 1805-1809; Court books, 1589-1592, 1600-1603, 1664-1665, 1674-1675, 1707-1896; Bread assize book, 1788-1834; Summary criminal trial records, 1842-1868; Police Act court book, 1850-1862; Police Court convictions, 1863-1868; Registers of persons committed to jail, 1827-1837; Licensing court records, 1778-1859, 1891-1908, 1912-1947; Council minutes, 1656-1729, 1743-1975; Council committee minutes (various), 1843-1903, 1910-1916, 1927-1933; Town Council annual committee minutes, 1776-1786; Magistrates minutes, 1781-1782, 1814-1823; Police commissioners minutes, 1838-1900; Police commissioners letter books, 1885-1898; Town Council letter book, 1897-1902; Medical Officer of Health: reports on houses, 1935-1936; Dean of Guild court book, 1827-1865; Guildry books, 1604-1861; Guildry accounts, 1816-1835; Seven Trades Convenor's books, 1594-1847; Maltmen minutes, 1762-1849; Wrights minutes, 1795-1869; Wrights' Boxmaster's accounts, 1796-1869. Harbour trustees minutes, 1771-1805; cash book, 1897-1952; Town Council Harbour Committee minutes, 1843-1845; Record of harbour dues, 1859-1920. Treasurer's accounts, 1611-1626; Town factor's accounts, 1796-1819; City factor's cash books, 1807-1839, 1886-1928; Town cash books, 1834-1861; Town's accounts, 1818-1872; Police commissioners accounts, 1838-1885; Bell Fund trust cash books, 1831-1931; City rental list, 1899-1928; Housing schemes account book, 1921-1925; Street lighting subscribers minutes and accounts, 1821-1834; List of seat rents in town church, 1833-1907; Register of loans, 1911-1969. Taxation inventories, 1630-1633; Poll tax and stent rolls, 1618-1839, 1846-1848, 1855-1856; Cess book, 1826-1833; Water accounts, 1826-1837; Statute labour assessments, 1832-1833; Prison Board assessments, 1840-1845. Regality court book, 1731-1741; Billet master's book, 1798-1857; Register of burgess admission, arrestments etc, 1766-1768; Registers of voters, 1832, 1837-1838, 1842-1855; Election books, 1861-1914, 1919-1947; List of burgh population, 1838; University commission evidence (printed), 1837; Salmon fishings, West Sands, 1966-1967; Waugh Bequest: minutes, 1895-1927; Victory Fund agenda book, 1944-1948. Crown and other charters in favour of the burgh, title deeds concerning land in the burgh etc, 1153x1162-1828; Miscellaneous discharges and other writs, 1542-1803. Miscellaneous papers: Claims of service, retours and cognitions, 1596-1935; Complaints to burgh court, 1753-1862; Decreets etc, 1662-1844; Petitions, 1736-1889; Miscellaneous papers from charter chest, 1596-1896; Dean of Guild court petitions, 1761-1840; Guildry papers, 1699-1832; Miscellaneous burgh accounts and vouchers, 1625-1870; Treasurer's accounts, 1623-24, 1705-08, 1725-1813 (incomplete); Registered protested bills, 1709-1844; Bonds of caution, 1755-1844; Claims, 1715, 1722-1826; Roads and walks in St Andrews, 1730-1893; Precognitions, 1768-1834; Tolbooth, 1617-1888; Commissions, 1758-1868; Schools, soldiers, volunteers and charities, 1620-1886; Magistrates and committees, 1775-1895; Precepts of warning, 1857-1863; Registered deeds, dispositions etc, 1622-1863; Miscellaneous title deeds, 1606-1862; Papers in court actions, 1722-1843; Tacks and articles of roup, 1604-1849; Papers relating to burgh elections, 1883-1897; Cess accounts, 1727-1803; Vouchers for town's expenses, c1725-1885; Miscellaneous papers, 1540-1890; Papers relating to St Andrews trades, 1511-1884; Convention of royal burghs, 1598-1884; Town Council letters, 1870-1895; St Andrews Harbour, 1707-1897; Lighting, 1821-1881; Priory Acres, 1606-1759; Mussel scalps, 1802-1897; Links, 1732-1893, with golf course papers, 1913-1936; Haughs, 1600-1878; Lawyers' accounts, 1730-1887; Salmon fishing, 1848-1872; Salaries, 1607-1874; Public burdens vouchers, 1609-1873; Mills, 1576-1888; Lists of voters in municipal elections, 1857-1897; Drainage/water supply, 1864-1884; Provisional orders/public inquiries, 1932-1958; Government evacuation scheme, 1939; Air raid precaution scheme for Fife, 1937-1939; Papers on burgh matters arranged on subject basis, 15th-19th cents.

Administrative / Biographical History

St Andrews became a royal burgh in 1620, although in practice it had been a royal burgh for many years before, as it had been represented in General Council and Parliament from 1357. It had been founded as a burgh by the Bishop of St Andrews (1124x1144), and was erected a burgh of regality in favour of the Archbishop of St Andrews in 1614.

St Andrews has for centuries been one of the most important burghs in Scotland: the home of Scotland's first archbishop (created 1472), with the see's major cathedral (where there were relics of St Andrew, Scotland's patron saint), and its first university (1411). The town of St Andrews has its origins in a Pictish settlement, originally called (in anglicised form) 'Kinrimont' (sometimes later referred to as 'Kilrymont or 'Kilrimont'), probably in its earliest form a monastic church. Scottish monarchs regularly resided in the town, and many significant episodes in Scottish history occurred here, such as the murder of Cardinal Beaton in 1546. The town did decay, but was revitalised from the mid-19th century, becoming a popular tourist resort. Golf and educational establishments have long been one of its main sources of employment; a certain amount of seaport trade has always passed through its harbour. The population was 6,406 in 1881, and 11,630 in 1971.

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) St Andrews 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. In 1838 St Andrews adopted certain clauses of the 1833 Act; police commissioners were elected under its terms for these purposes, but in 1849 further clauses were adopted and the town council became the police commissioners under the Act. In 1863 the town adopted the General Police and Improvement (Scotland) Act 1862 (25 and 26 Vict., c.101). Burgh administration was carried out by police commissioners (ie the town council) who were responsible for the cleansing, lighting, policing and public health of the burgh. Under the Town Councils (Scotland) Act 1900 (63 and 64 Vict., c.49) the police commissioners were formally replaced by St Andrews Town Council in January 1901.

St Andrews 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, 28 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