Parish of Inverkeithing

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: Inverkeithing
1834-45: Inverkeithing

Inverkeithing, a coast town and parish of SW Fife. A royal, parliamentary, and police burgh, and a seaport, the town, standing at the head of Inverkeithing Bay, has a station on a branch line of the North British, 3¾ miles SE of Dunfermline, 1¾ mile N of North Queensferry, and 16 miles WNW of Edinburgh, from which by road it is only 13 miles. It occupies a pleasant south-eastward slope, which commands a delightful view; and consists of a longish main street, with divergent wynds and some shoreward outskirts. Though it has mostly been either built or rebuilt in the course of the present century, the 'Inns' or old palace is still pointed out as the residence of Annabella Drummond (1340-1403), Robert III.'s widowed queen, who certainly died at Inverkeithing. Near it vestiges have been discovered of a supposed Franciscan or Dominican monastery. The town has a post office, with money order, savings' bank, and telegraph departments, a branch of the Clydesdale Bank, 7 insurance agencies, 2 hotels, a good town-hall, a neat corn market, a curious o d pillar cross, a subscription library, a masonic lodge, a music hall, a curling club, a cemetery, a gas company, a mutual marine insurance company, a tolerable harbour, a shipbuilding yard, tan-works, rope-works, fireclay works, and a fair on the first Friday of August, the survivor of five, which itself has been growing smaller and smaller. The original parish church, St Peter's, was bequeathed in 1139 to Dunfermline Abbey by Waldeve, son of Gospatric. A reconstruction of 1826, after the fire of the year before, the present church is a handsome Gothic building, with a nave, side aisles, 1000 sittings, and an old W tower. Square and of three stages, with a stunted polygonal spire, this is Middle Pointed in style, as also is a hexagonal, elaborately-sculptured font, one of the finest in Scotland, which, disinterred from the rubbish in 1806, in making foundations for repairs on the church, was at first placed in the porch, but has since been removed to a spot near the pulpit, and regularly used for public baptisms (T. S. Muir's Ancient Churches of Scotland, 1848). There is also a spacious U.P. church, in which, about 1820, the Rev. Ebenezer Brown, second 'son of the Self-interpreting Bible,' preached before Brougham and Jeffrey, the first pronouncing him the greatest orator they had ever heard, 'whilst Jeffrey declared he' never heard such words, such a sacred untaught gift of speech.' The harbour might be deepened and greatly improved, yet is pretty good, having a patent slip, and affording accommodation for vessels of 200 tons at spring tides, though usually it is frequented by smaller vessels. It comprises an area called the Inner Bay, which, extending over an area of 100 acres, contracts to 1 furlong at the entrance between two low small headlands, the East and the West Ness. At low water it is all an expanse of foreshore. The outer bay, broadening rapidly beyond the harbour's entrance, includes foreshore over only a small space immediately outside the Ness; measures 1½ mile across a chord drawn between St Davids and North Queensferry, but only ¾ mile from that chord to the Ness; and lies quite open to easterly and southerly winds. A good many vessels used to frequent the harbour for coal; but their number has greatly decreased of recent years. The town is a royal burgh, under a charter of Qilliam the Lyon, and, having partly adopted the General Police and Improvement Act (Scotland) prior to 1871, is governed by a provost, 2 bailies, a treasurer, a dean of guild, and 7 councillors. It unites with Stirling, Dunfermline, Culross, and South Queensferry in sending a member to parliament. The municipal and the parliamentary constituency numbered 213 and 195 in 1883, when the annual value of real property amounted to £4666 (against £3024 in 1873 and £5068 in 1882), whilst the corporation revenue was £508 in 1882. Pop. (1831) 2020, (1861) 1929, (1871) 1763, (1881) 1653, of whom 1646 were in the police and parliamentary and 1366 in the royal burgh. Houses (1881) 391 inhabited, 38 vacant.

The parish, containing also Hillend village and a fragment of Limekilns, includes the islets of Bimar and Inchgarvie, as also the detached lands of Logie and Urquhart, within Dunfermline parish, as far as Milesmark village. It comprises the ancient parishes of lnverkeithing and Rosyth, united in 1636. It is bounded W and N by Dunfermline, E by Dalgety, and S by the Firth of Forth and the Ferryhill or North Queensferry section of Dunfermline. Its length, from N to S, diminishing westward, varies between 1 furlong and 4¾ miles; its breadth, diminishing northwards, varies between ½ mile and 3 miles; and its area is 5020 acres, of which 557¾ are foreshore. The coast, with an extent of 4¾ miles, includes the greater part of St Margaret's Hope and Inverkeithing Bay, and is partly low and sandy, partly rocky, and rather high. The interior is low though undulating, nowhere much exceeding 200 feet above sea-level throughout all the southern district, but rising to 344 near Annfield. The rocks belong to the Carboniferous Limestone series; but basalt intrudes in the two islets and over all the SE portion of the parish. Except for a small proportion of wood and pasture, the entire area is in a high state of cultivation. Inverkeithing claims as natives Sir Samuel Greig (1735-88), the distinguished Russian admiral, and the Rev. Robert Moffat, D.D. (1797-1883), the African missionary. Its chief antiquity is noted under Rosyth, the chief event in its history under Pitreavie. Seven proprietors hold each an annual value of £500 and upwards, 4 of between £100 and £500, 9 of from £50 to £100, and 30 of from £20 to £50. Ecclesiastically including North Queensferry, this parish is in the presbytery of Dunfermline and synod of Fife; the living is worth £440. Inverkeithing and North Queensferry public schools, with respective accommodation for 397 and 100 children, had (1881) an average attendance of 292 and 85, and grants of £250, 16s. and £61, 3s. Valuation (1866) £8270, 9s. 5d., (1883) £8483, 16s. 1d. Pop. (1801) 2228, (1831) 3189, (1861) 3124, (1871) 3074, (1881) 2565.—Ord. Sur., shs. 32, 40, 1857-67. See W. Simson's Reminisccnces of Inverkeithing (Edinb. 1882).

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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