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Parish of St Monance

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: St Monance
1834-45: Abercrombie

Abercrombie (Gael. 'curved confluence'), or St Monans, a coast parish of SE Fife, containing the hamlet of Abercrombie, and, 1½ mile SSE, the fishing village and burgh of barony of St Monans. The latter has a station on the North British, 2¾ miles WSW of Anstruther, and 16 E by N of Thornton junction, and a post office, with money order, savings' bank, and telegraph departments. It contains, besides, the parish church, a Free church, gas-works, and a town-hall: and is governed by a provost, 2 bailies, a treasurer, and 9 councillors. A good harbour, partly natural, and partly formed by a strong pier constructed in 1865, accommodates three or four trading vessels, and about 100 large fishing-boats belonging to the port, but is seldom frequented by strangers: and the herring fishery, a principal employment of the villagers, is now restricted to the neighbouring waters, no longer extending to the Caithness coast. Pop. (1851) 1241, (1871) 1648, (1881) 2000.

The parish is bounded W, NW, and NE by Carnbee, E by Pittenweem, SE by the Firth of Forth (here 9¼ miles wide, to North Berwick Links), and SW by Elie and Kilconquhar. It has an extreme length from NNW to SSE of 17/8 mile, a width of from 1 to 13/8 mile, and an area of 1282 acres, of which 79 are foreshore. Rising abruptly from a low rocky beach, the surface shows some diversities, but on the whole is flat, and nowhere much exceeds 100 feet of elevation. Dreel Burn traces the north-eastern boundary, and Inweary or St Monans Burn follows the south-western, to within 5 furlongs of its influx to the Firth at the western extremity of St Monans village. The rocks belong to the Carboniferous formation, and coal, limestone, and ironstone have all been worked: the soil is chiefly a light friable loam, with very little clay, and of great fertility. Balcaskie Park extends over the NE corner of the parish, and in it stands the ruined church of Abercrombie, disused for upwards of two centuries, but still the Anstruthers' burying-place. On the coast, at the SW angle, is the ruinous mansion of Newark, where General David Leslie, first Lord Newark, resided till his death in 1682: and another family connected with the parish was that of the Sandilands, Lords Abercrombie from 1647 to 1681. At present 2 proprietors hold each an annual value of £500 or upwards, 2 of between £100 and £500, 3 of from £50 to £100, and 22 of from £20 to £50. Including the barony of St Monans since 1646, Abercrombie is in the presbytery of St Andrews and synod of Fife: its minister's income is £271. According to the legend of St Adrian (given under Isle of May), Monanus, born in Pannonia, a province of Hungary, preached the gospel at Inverry or Abercrombie, and after his martyrdom was there enshrined. Skene, however, identifying Monanus with Moinenn, Bishop of Clonfert (d. 571), holds that his relics were brought about 845 from Ireland to Fife, and deposited in a church erected to his honour (Celt. Scot., ii. 311-317). Legend again relates how David II., praying before St Monans' tomb, was freed miraculously of a barbed arrow, and for thanks-offering founded about 1362 the statelier cruciform church, which a century later James III. bestowed on the Dominicans. Standing at the burn's mouth, and built in the Second Pointed style, this church was partly destroyed by the English in 1544, and now retains only its stunted central tower, crowned by a low octagonal spire, its transept, and its choir: the last measures 53 by 22½ feet, and 'renovated and improved ' in 1772 and 1828, serves as the parish church, being seated for 528 worshippers. Features of special interest are the sedilia, a good pointed doorway, and the reticulated pattern of some of the windows. Of a public and a General Assembly school, only the former was open in 1879, having then accommodation for 285 children, an average attendance of 251, and a grant of £191, 11s. Valuation (1881) £6073, 3s. Pop. (1801) 852, (1831) 1110, (1861) 1498, (1871) 1761, (1881) 2054.—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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