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Parish of Kilconquhar

A historical perspective, drawn from the Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland: A Survey of Scottish Topography, Statistical, Biographical and Historical, edited by Francis H. Groome and originally published in parts by Thomas C. Jack, Grange Publishing Works, Edinburgh between 1882 and 1885.

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1791-99: Kilconquhar
1834-45: Kilconquhar

Kilconquhar, a post-office village and a coast parish in the East Neuk of Fife. The village stands on the northern shore of Kilconquhar Loch, and ½ mile NE of Kilconquhar station on the East Fife section of the North British, this being 1 ½ mile NW of Elie and 12 ½ E by N of Thornton Junction. Pop., with the NW suburb of Barnyards, (1861) 300, (1871) 381, (1881) 350. The parish, containing also the villages or hamlets of Earlsferry, Colinsburgh, Largoward, Williamsburgh, and Liberty, once comprehended the barony of St Monance and the parish of Elie. It now is bounded NE by Cameron, E by Carnbee and Abercrombie, S by Elie and the Firth of Forth, W by Elie (detached), Newburn, and Largo, and NW by Ceres. Its utmost length, from NNW to SSE, is 7 ¾ miles; its breadth varies between 3 furlongs and 2 1/8 miles; and its area is 7271 ½ acres, of which 96 ½ are water and 279 ¼ foreshore. The coast, extending 3 ¾ miles along Largo, Elie, and two smaller intermediate bays, is partly fringed by low, flat sandy links, but rises abruptly to 200 feet above sea-level at Kincraig Hill, from which the surface descends gradually to the plain between the railway and Colinsburgh. Thence it rises again with gentle northward ascent to 300 feet near Balcarres, 500 at Kilbrackmont Craigs, 600 near Largoward, and 750 at Dunnikier Law. Den or Cocklemill Burn, which enters the Firth at the western boundary, is the principal streamlet; and Kilconquhar Loch, measuring 4 by 3 furlongs, is a beautiful fresh-water lake, wooded on three sides, and very deep in places. Swans haunt it still, as in the days of the Witch of Pittenweem, when -

'They took her to Kinneuchar Loch,
And threw the limmer in;
And a' the swans took to the hills
Scared wi' the unhaely din.'

All the area S of the Reres and Kilbrackmont ravine is drained southward by a brook bearing various names, and terminating in Cocklemill Burn; and the area N of the ravine is drained into the basin of the Eden. The parish is rich in charming scenery of its own; and many vantage-grounds command magnificent views over the basins of the Forth and Tay. Partly eruptive and partly carboniferous, the rocks exhibit juxtapositions and displacements highly interesting to geologists; and they include columnar basalt, sandstone, ironstone, shale, coal, and limestone, the two last of which have been long and largely worked. The soil of most of the coast district is light loam mixed with sand, and elsewhere is variously argillaceous loam, black loam, rich alluvium, and light, sharp, fertile, sandy earth. With the exception of some 700 acres of wood and plantation, the links, and a few rocky spots, the entire area is either under tillage or in a state of drained, enclosed, and improved pasture. Kilconquhar House, ¾ mile NE of the village and 1 ½ ESE of Colinsburgh, is the seat of John Trotter Bethune, who, born in 1827, succeeded as second Baronet in 1851, and in 1878 established his claim to the titles of Lord Lindsay of the Byres (cre. 1464), Earl of Lindsay (1633), Viscount of Garnock (1703), etc. He holds 2205 acres in the shire, valued at £5548 per annum. His father, Major-General Sir Henry Lindesay-Bethune (1787 1851), distinguished himself in Persia, and received a baronetcy in 1836. Balcarres, a mansion of singular interest, is noticed separately; and others are Cairnie, Charleton, Falfield, and Lathallan. in all, 8 proprietors hold each an annual value of £500 and upwards, 8 of between £100 and £500, 3 of from £50 to 100, and 29 of from £20 to £50. Giving off a portion to the quoad sacra parish of Largoward, Kilconquhar is u the presbytery of St Andrews and synod of Fife; the living is worth £350, exclusive of a manse and glebe. The parish church, on a knoll at the W end of the village, is a handsome Gothic edifice of 1820-21, with 1035 sittings and a square tower 80 feet high. There is also a U.P. church at Colinsburgh; and three public schools - Colinsburgh, Earlsferry, and Kilconquhar - with respective accommodation for 125, 103, and 145 children, had (1881) an average attendance of 81, 61, and 80, and grants of £76, 14s. 6d., £54, 13s. 6d., and £75, 9s. Valuation (1860) £15,656, (1883) £17,267, 17s. 11d. Pop. (1801) 2005, (1841) 2605, (1861) 243l, (1871) 2018, (1881) 2053, of whom 1471 were in the ecclesiastical parish.—Ord. Sur., sh. 41, 1857.

An accompanying 19th C. Ordnance Survey map is available, or use the map tab to the right of this page.

Note: This text has been made available using a process of scanning and optical character recognition. Despite manual checking, some typographical errors may remain. Please remember this description dates from the 1880s; names may have changed, administrative divisions will certainly be different and there are known to be occasional errors of fact in the original text, which we have not corrected because we wish to maintain its integrity. This information is provided subject to our standard disclaimer

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