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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Elie or Ely, a small police burgh and a parish on the SE coast of Fife. The town stands close to the shore at the head of a bay of its own name, and has a station on the East of Fife section of the North British, 4 ¾ miles WSW of Anstruther, 14 ENE of Thornton Junction, and 34 NE of Edinburgh. In bygone times a place of some importance, it retains a few antique mansions in a street near the beach, but mainly consists of modern well-built houses. It has for a long time been a place of considerable resort for summer sea-bathing, but carries on little trade, although it possesses an excellent natural harbour, much improved by quays and a pier, and affording safe and accessible shelter during gales from the W or SW. The bay is 7 furlongs wide across the entrance, and thence measures 3 ½ to its inmost recess; it is flanked on the E by Elie Ness, and by Chapel Ness on the W. Wadehaven, a little to the E of the harbour, has a depth of from 20 to. 22 feet of water at ordinary tides, and is said to have been named after General Wade, who recommended it to Government as a suitable harbour for ships of the royal navy. Immediately to the W is the small old burgh of Earlsferry, on whose capital links an elegant golf club-house was lately erected; and Elie itself has a post office, with money order, savings' bank, and telegraph departments, a branch of the National Bank, 2 hotels, gas-works, water-works (conjointly with Earlsferry and St Monance), a subscription library of 4000 volumes, the parish church (1726; 610 sittings), with a spire, a Free church, and a public school. Having in 1865 adopted the General Police and Improvement Act, it is governed by a chief magistrate, 2 junior magistrates, and 3 other police commissioners, with a town-clerk and a treasurer. Burgh assessable rental (1882) £3804. Pop. (1861) 706, (1871) 626, (1881) 625, of whom 79 were in Kilconquhar parish.

The parish down to about 1639 formed part of Kilconquhar, by a strip of which - 5 furlongs broad at the narrowest - it now is divided into two unequal portions. The larger of these, containing the town, is bounded W and N by Kilconquhar, NE by St Monance, and SE and S by the Firth of Forth, which here has a minimum width of 8 ¼ miles. The smaller or westerly portion is bounded NE and SE by Kilconquhar, and W by Newburn. It has an utmost length and breadth of 9 and 7 ½ furlongs, as the main body has of 2 ¼ and 1 ½ miles; and the area of the whole is 2241 ½ acres, of which 650 ¼ belong to the westerly section, and 210¼ are foreshore. The surface is generally flat, and rises nowhere into a hill. Kilconquhar Loch (4 x 3 furl.) touches the northern boundary of the main body; and Cocklemill Burn traces the south-eastern border of the detached portion. The rocks belong chiefly to the Carboniferous formation, but include, on the coast, greenstone, basalt, clinkstone, and trap-tufa. The carboniferous rocks, too, are traversed by trap-dykes; and they comprise sandstone, limestone, shale, coal, and clay-ironstone. Some 50 acres are under wood; and nearly all the rest of the land, excepting the links, is in tillage. Natives were Robert Traill (1642-1716), a divine of the Church of Scotland, and James Horsburgh, F.R.S. (1762-1836), the eminent hydrographer. Elie House, to the NNE of the town, was built towards the close of the 17th century, and is a large edifice in the Renaissance style, with beautiful grounds. Its owner, William Baird, Esq. (b. 1848; suc. 1864), holds 3120 acres in the shire, valued at £8223 per annum. Elie is in the presbytery of St Andrews and synod of Fife; the living is worth £200. The public school, with accommodation for 112 children, had (1880) an average attendance of 94, and a grant of £83, 10s. Valuation (1866) £6136, (1882) £7234, 9s. Pop. (1801) 730, (1831) 1029, (1861) 826, (1871) 775, (1881) 670.—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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