Parish of Anstruther Easter

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: Anstruther Easter
1834-45: Anstruther Easter

Anstruther, a fishing and seaport town of SE Fife, comprising the royal and parliamentary burghs of Anstruther-Easter and Anstruther-Wester, and contiguous eastwards to the royal burgh of Cellardyke or Nether Kilrenny. Situated at the entrance of the Firth of Forth, it stretches along its shore about 1¼ mile, and by water is 5½ miles WNW of the Isle of May, 113/8 N of North Berwick, and 25 NE of Leith, while, as terminus of the Leven and East of Fife section of the North British system, it is 18¾ miles E by N of Thornton Junction, and 38¾ NE of Edinburgh, viâ Granton. By road, again, it is 9¼ miles SSE of St Andrews, whither a railway is constructing (1881) at a cost of £38,000, to be l6 miles long, with five intermediate stations, at Crail, Kingsbarns, Dunino, etc., and to be worked by the North British. Anstruther has a post office with money order and savings' bank departments, a railway telegraph office, branches of the Clydesdale, Commercial, and National banks, gasworks, two hotels, a custom house, a town-hall(1871; accommodation 800), a masonic lodge, a musical association, etc., and publishes a Friday paper, the East of Fife Record (1856). Friday is market - day; and industrial establishments are 2 rope and sail, 3 oil, and 4 oilskin and fishing - gear factories, a brewery, and a tannery. A bridge (1831)over the Dreel Burn joins Anstruther-Wester to Anstruther-Easterwhere are Free, U.P., Baptist, and Evangelical Union churches, besides the parish church (1634-44; 750 sittings), whose picturesque tower has a low spire and is another quaint old building, erected in 1590 by James, a nephew of the more celebrated Andrew, Melville. Anstruther-Wester has its own parish church, consecrated in 1243; a lidless stone coffin in its churchyard is wrongly imagined to be St Adrian's. On 10 June 1559, Knox marched here with a ` rascal multitude ' (the phrase is his own),and preached alive well remember the rows of fine arches left standing in this church, which now is a tasteless erection within and without ' (Gordon's Scotichronicon, 1867, p. 307). A Spanish war-ship, one of the scattered Armada, put in at the harbour in 1588; in 1645 many of the townsfolk, zealous Covenanters, fell at the battle of Kilsyth; and the town itself, in 1651, was plundered by the English. Great inundations (1670-90) did grievous damage, the first destroying the harbour, and the second a third of the houses; the Union, too, gave a serious shock to commerce, which, till then carried on by 24 home vessels, employed but 2 in 1764. Three natives and contemporaries were the great Dr Thomas Chalmers (1780-1847), a minor poet, Captain Charles Gray, R.N. (1782-1851), and William Tennant (1784-1848), author of Anster Fair, whose heroine ` Maggie Lander ' lived, it is said, on Anstruther East Green.

A head port from 1710 to 1827, since then a creek or sub-port of Kirkcaldy, Anstruther possesses a harbour of its own, enclosed by two piers; but, this being found too small, the Union Harbour was commenced at Cellardyke in 1866. With a western breakwater and eastern pier, both built of concrete, and the latter 1200 yards long, it has an area of 7 acres, and, owing to frequent interruptions from storms, was only completed in 1877, at a total cost of over £80,000. Its revenue was £616 in 1880; and Anstruther is head of all the fishery district between Leith and Montrose, in which during 1879 there were cured 9119½ barrels of white herrings, besides 127,705 cod, ling, and hake-taken by 775 boats of 8839 tons; the persons employed being 3175 fishermen and boys, 38 fish-curers, 80 coopers, and 2460 others, and the total value of boats, nets, and lines being estimated at £123,488. In the year ending 31 March 1881, the herring catch alone was 17,100 crans, against 8630 in the twelve months before. Anstruther-Easter was made a royal burgh in 1583, and Anstruther-Wester in 1587, but the latter lost its municipal status in 1852, not to regain it till 1869. With St Andrews, Crail, Cupar, Kilrenny, and Pittenweem, they return one member, the parliamentary and municipal constituencies of Anstruther-Easter numbering 202 and 190, of Anstruther-Wester 91 and 89, in 1880-81, when the corporation revenue and the valuation of the former amounted to £401 and £4752, of the latter to £172 and £1925. Pop. of Anstruther-Easter (1801) 969, (1831) 1007, (1851) 1146, (1871) 1169, (1881) 1349. Pop. of Anstruther-Wester (1851) 365, (1861) 367, (1871) 484, (1881) 594.

The parish of Anstruther-Easter, conterminous with its burgh, has an area of only 5½ acres of land and 15¾ of foreshore. That, however, of Anstruther-Wester, having also a landward district, is bounded W and N by Carnbee, E by Kilrenny, S by the Firth and Pittenweem, and has an extreme length from E to W of 1¾ mile, a width from N to S of 7 furlongs, and an area of 978¼ acres, of which 67¼ are foreshore. The surface nowhere much exceeds 100 feet above sea-level; the formation is Carboniferous. Grangemuir House, a good modern mansion, 1 mile NNW of Pittenweem station, is the seat of Walter Douglas Irvine, Esq., owner in the shire of 2697 acres of £5298 yearly value; and there are three other landowners. In the presbytery of St Andrews and synod of Fife, Anstruther-Wester is a living worth £261, and Anstruther-Easter £264. The former has one public school, the latter two, E and W; and these three, with respective accommodation for 134,229, and 104 children, had in 1879 an average attendance of 114,172, and 69, and grants of £88, 2s., £171, 19s., and £50, 8s. Valuation (1881) of landward district of Anstruther-Wester, £1664, 8s. Pop. of its entire parish (1801) 296, (1831) 430, (1861) 421, (1871) 545, (1881) 673.—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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