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Leslie Parish, Fifeshire, Scotland
Written and Researched by Margaret Odrowaz-Sypniewska

Leslie in the 1800's (nineteenth century)

Leslie Parish

Leslie is a parish containing a small post-town of its own name, at the middle of the western border of Fifeshire. It is bounded by the county of Kinross, and by the parishes of Falkland, Markinch, and Kinglassie. Its length eastward is between 4 and 5 miles; and its breadth is between 3 and 4 miles. The river Leven traces all the southern boundary; and two brooks drain the interior, the one southward and the other eastward to the Leven, a short way between Leslie-house. The north-western and northern borders are on the declivities of the Lomond hills; the surface thence to the Leven is generally an undulating descent; and the whole landscape is pleasantingly diversified and very beautiful. About 4,324 imperial acres are in tillage; about 992 are pastoral or unculvitated; and about 350 are under wood. Coal occurs in the eastern district, but is not extensively worked.

The principal landowners are the Earl of Rothes, Douglas of Strathendry, and Balfour of Balbirnie. Leslie-House the seat of the Earl of Rothes stands amid magnificently wooded grounds, in the southeast of the Parish. This house was built, and great additions made to the plantations, by the celebrated Duke of Rothes, Lord-chancellor of Scotland, during the reign of Charles II. The house was built in a quadrangle, enclosing a center courtyard. Three of the sides burned down in December 1763. The fourth side was repaired and made into the house. The house contained a portrait gallery of their family.

Strathendry-house was built in the Elizabethan style.

The yearly value or raw produce was estimated in 1836 at 7,750 pounds. Assessed property in 1865 was 14,386 pounds, 18 s, 2d. In this parish there were six mills for spinning flax. The largest mill was in Prinlaws, which was largely moved partly by steam power, and partly by water power from the Leven. There were also three bleachfields and a paper mill. Nearly 300 persons were employed in hand-loom weaving, chiefly for the manufacturers of Glasgow, Scotland.

Population in 1831 was 3,749. In 1861, the population was 4,332. There were 540 homes in Leslie.

The parish is in the presbytery of Kirkcaldy, and the Synod of Fife. The parish church was built in 1820.

The parish took its name from the family name of the Earls of Rothes, it was previously called Fetkill.

The celebrated Dr. Pitcairn was a native of Leslie. Rev. E. Erskine was one of the fathers of the Secession church, which for some time was the tutor and champlain at Leslie-house. Lord Reston, one of the senators of the college of justice belonged to the family of the Douglases of Strathendry.

The Town of Leslie stands on the south-east border of the parish of Leslie, on the road from Markinch to Kinross, and on the one from Cupar to Dunferline (3 miles west of Markinch - 12 miles southwest of Cupar). The town is ancient and irregularly built. The gables of the houses face the street. The records extent back 400 years or more. It is thought that this was the place that inspired King James' poem "Christ's Kirk on the Green." This was the place of royal and noble games, a place of pastimes frequented by the princes and nobles of Scotland. Leslie was the quarters of the annual meetings of the Packmen. The town is a burgh of barony under the Earls of Rothes.


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