Record

CodeNA6922
Dates1541-1975
Person NameRoyal Burgh of Pittenweem; 1541-1975
ActivityPittenweem was made a royal burgh by King James V (1513-1542) in 1541, although it had been a burgh of barony under the prior of Pittenweem by 1526. Its harbour allowed it to carry out a significant trade in fish from then right through to the end of the 20th century; other local sources of employment included brewing.

Royal burghs normally had elected councillors who looked after the burgh's interests, but only a small number of inhabitants had the right to vote in the council elections or to be a councillor. Burgh courts were held, which had some civil and criminal jurisdiction, although these competencies were eroded as time passed and the cases were increasingly petty local disputes. By the Representation of the People (Scotland) Act 1832 (2 & 3 Will. IV, c.65) Pittenweem and six other burghs were combined within the St Andrews District of Burghs to elect an MP. The franchise for parliamentary elections was radically changed in 1832, and the Royal Burghs (Scotland) Act 1833 (3 & 4 Will. IV, c.76) imitated the change for the election of councillors. The Burgh Police (Scotland) Act 1833 (3 & 4 Will. IV, c.46) allowed any existing royal burgh to establish a police system with responsibility for the watching, cleansing, paving and lighting. This and later acts sometimes resulted in a dual administration, of police magistrates or commissioners, and town bailies and councillors.

Pittenweem adopted the 1833 Act in 1842, but the police commissioners elected under the Act seem to have lasted only 5 years. In 1866 the burgh adopted the General Police and Improvement (Scotland) Act 1862 (25 & 26 Vict., c.101). Burgh administration was carried out by police commissioners who were responsible for the cleansing, lighting, policing and public health of the burgh. Under the Town Councils (Scotland) Act 1900 (63 & 64 Vict., c.49) the police commissioners were replaced by Pittenweem Town Council in January 1901. Its population was 1,760 in 1871, and 1,518 in 1971.

Pittenweem Town Council was abolished in 1975 under the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973 (c.65). Its powers were assumed by Fife Regional Council and North East Fife District Council. These in turn were replaced by Fife Council in 1996 under the Local Government etc. (Scotland) Act 1994 (c.39).
Corporate NameRoyal Burgh of Pittenweem
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