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Anstruther Wester, Fifeshire

Historical Description

ANSTRUTHER WESTER, a royal burgh, and a parish, in the district of ST. ANDREW'S, county of FIFE; adjoining Anstruther Easter, and containing 449 inhabitants, of whom 339 are in the burgh. This place, the name of which in the Celtic language is supposed to be descriptive of the low marshy ground on which the church was built, is situated on the Firth of Forth, about six miles to the west of Fifeness. The people of Anstruther Wester, who, during the wars consequent on the attempt to establish episcopacy, were zealously devoted to the Presbyterian form of worship, joined the Covenanters; and many of them fell in the battle of Kilsyth. The town suffered much in 1670 by an inundation of the sea, which greatly injured the harbour, and undermined the foundations of many of the houses. A second inundation, towards the end of the same century, swept away the houses in the principal street, and destroyed nearly one-third of the town.

The TOWN is separated from Anstruther Easter by the Dreel burn, over which a bridge was erected, at the joint expense of the two burghs, in 1801. It has been much benefited by the widening of the principal street, and the houses in that, and also in the other streets, have been considerably improved in their appearance. The streets are paved and macadamised, and the town is well lighted, and supplied with water. Anstruther Wester was erected into a royal burgh by charter of James VI., in 1587, and the government is vested in a provost, two bailies, a treasurer, and eleven councillors, elected annually; the old council choosing the new council, and the latter electing the provost, bailies, and treasurer. The magistrates hold a court; but few cases of civil actions have been brought before them for some years; and their jurisdiction in criminal cases seldom extends beyond petty offences, in deciding on which they are assisted by the town-clerk, who acts as assessor. The town-hall is a commodious building. This burgh is associated with Pittenweem, Anstruther Easter, Kilrenny, and others, in returning a member to the imperial parliament.

The PARISH is bounded on the south by the sea. It is about two miles in length, and of irregular form, comprising not more than 600 acres, of which, with the exception of a few acres of common pasture, the whole is arable. The soil, near the sea, is in some parts a rich black loam, and in others a light sand mixed with shells, both of which, though of no great depth, are very fertile; in the higher grounds the soil is of lighter quality, intermixed with tracts of deep clay. The crops are grain of all kinds, with potatoes, turnips, and other green crops; the lands are chiefly inclosed with stone dykes, but in some places with hedges of thorn. Salmon are caught on the shores of the burgh. The annual value of real property in the parish is £1998. Grangemuir, the seat of Lord William Douglas, of Dunino, a handsome and spacious mansion, built by the late Mr. Bruce, and greatly enlarged by the present proprietor, is pleasantly situated in grounds laid out with much taste. Ecclesiastically the parish is in the presbytery of St. Andrew's and synod of Fife: the minister's stipend is £142. 5. 6., of which part is paid from the exchequer; with a manse, and a glebe valued at £22. 10. per annum. Sir Wyndham Carmichael Anstruther, Bart., is patron of the incumbency. The church is a very ancient structure situated in the burgh, near the sea-shore. The parochial school is well conducted; the master has a salary of £34. 4. 4., with £4 per annum from a bequest, a house and garden, and school-fees averaging about £75 per annum. There is a bursary in the United College of St. Andrew's, for a scholar from this parish, endowed by the late William Thomson, Esq., chief magistrate of the burgh.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland, 1851 by Samuel Lewis


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