The Parish of Dalgety is in Fife, Scotland. It stretches from the new town of Dalgety Bay on the Forth estuary to the town of Crossgates in the north. An online map of the old Fife parishes can be found at Tommy Manson’s ‘Fife Post’ website at (Please note that the eastern part of Mossgreen, including the settlement known as Coaledge - sometimes spelled Colledge or College - are actually in the neighbouring parish of Aberdour. This is important to family history researchers.)

You can see the location of the parish in present day terms on an online map by clicking here.

The history of the parish is told in “Dalgety Bay: Heritage and Hidden History” by Eric Simpson (1999). Other good sources are “Behind the Diamond Panes” by Bob Holman (1952), which is an anecdotal account of the mining communities in the north of the parish; and "The Fordell Railway" by J.C. Inglis and F. Inglis (1946), the story of the mineral railway which brought the coal to the port of St David’s.

The Holman and Inglis books are out of print, although it is possible to find second hand copies. Eric Simpson’s can be purchased from the Fife Family History Society website at

The story of the parish in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries is largely the story of the great estates of Fordell (covering the north of the parish) and Donibristle (covering the south). The Japps (and spelling variations) were concentrated in the mining communities in the north, of which there is now little sign.


As background, here is an extract from the Inglises' book:

"The lands of Fordell, one of the three large estates in the parish of Dalgety in Fifeshire, have been in the hands of the Henderson family since 1511, when James Henderson, a King's advocate, received the charter from James IV. Fordell Castle, built in 1567, was the family residence until Fordell House was built after 1721.

Coal was first worked on the estate in the latter part of the 16th century. The lowest seam of the coals of the Fife coalfields comes to the surface (outcrops) about a mile to the north of Fordell Castle - near Broomieside Farm. The early workings were on this outcrop. When these became exhausted, new pits were sunk further north in overlying seams. The position of the pits can be estimated roughly by the presence on early maps of groups of colliers' cottages, built close by the pits, which remained long after the pits had been abandoned. By the end of the 18th century it is doubtful if there were any pits south of Drumcooper, the main workings then being near a group of cottages appropriately called Coaltown (later referred to as Colton). [This doesn't seem quite right. Coaltown is south of Drumcooper. IS]

The coal from these early workings was taken by horse and pannier into Inverkeithing for shipment. The horses were led over a 'Coal Road' to a point east of Fordell Castle and thence by the road from the Castle to the Inverkeithing-Aberdour Road, just east of Hillend.

On 21st July, 1752, Sir Robert Henderson, the fourth baronet, with the idea of participating directly in the coastwise and foreign trade, acquired a small area of land on the Firth of Forth, together with a right of access thereto, from James Spittall of Leuchat. A harbour was constructed, four acres in extent, with 2 small piers, the southern one of which was built on a rock, called 'St. David's Castle', from which the harbour took its name; though it was tidal, it could take vessels of 500-600 tons. Houses were built on the quay and South pier, and saltpans were established on the west side. These saltpans were originally fed from a large round reservoir, filled by the tide, and which contained sufficient water for one week's consumption. The 'Coal Road' was extended across the Inverkeithing-Aberdour Road down to St. David's, horse and pannier carriage being also used on this extension.

A great step forward took place when a wooden waggonway was laid down in the second half of the 18th century. This early line, though primitive by modern standards, carried about 30,000 tons of coal annually, and must have been a considerable advance on previous methods of transport. It is shown on Ainslie's Map of 1775.

Sir Robert Henderson died on 19th October, 1781, and was succeeded by his elder son, John, 5th baronet, who, between the years I780 and 1807, was M.P. for Fifeshire, Kirkcaldy Burghs and the Stirling Burghs.

About the time of Sir John's succession, the coal under Fordell Estate which could be worked without artificial drainage was becoming exhausted. Pumping being then in its infancy, Sir John constructed the Fordell Day Level, an underground water-course, which carried, and still carries, the water from the mines and discharges into Fordell Burn near Fordell Castle. This was a considerable feat of mining engineering for those days ; the cost is believed to have been between 30,000-40,000. A number of airshafts connect the surface with the level throughout its length and these are shown as existing on a map of the Estate dated I796. Having incurred this large expenditure, Sir John sought to extend his mining field, and in 1798 obtained from William Weymss, Laird of Cuttlehill, the estate to the north of Fordell, a lease of the coal in his lands, into which the Day Level and the Waggonway were extended by stages.

In December, 1817, Sir John died and was succeeded by his daughter, Anne Isabella, who became the second wife of Admiral Sir Philip Calderwood Durham. Sir Philip had a distinguished naval career, commanding several ships under Lord Nelson. (It will be noted that several of the pits sunk at this time bear the names of his ships, i.e. 'Venerable', 'Bulwark', etc.)

With the acquisition and development of the Cuttlehill leasehold, a great period of expansion resulted. This was mirrored in the rising population of the parish of Dalgety, nearly two-thirds of which were connected with the industry. In the New Statistical Account of Scotland (1836) appeared the following: 'In 1775, the population was stated to be 761 . . . Since then it has nearly doubled. The principal cause . . . is to be attributed to the extension of the Fordell Coal Works . . . The population of the southern part has diminished.' The population of the parish in 1831 was given as 1300. Fordell Village, which lies about two miles to the north of Fordell Castle and about a mile to the north of Colton, came into being about 1800, and consisted at that time of two rows of cottages (later named Durham's and Mercer's Row), which were converted into the railway workshops about 1862. St. David's was also greatly enlarged. The harbour was deepened in 1826 and again in 1832, when the South pier was extended by 150 feet. On this pier new sidings, turn-tables and coal-hoists were added. (The latter were designed by W. Leslie of Edinburgh in 1844. Later he gave a model of one to the Royal Scottish Museum in Edinburgh, where it may still be seen.)

In 1832 a further lease of coal was taken on the north side of Cuttlehill, and to improve and cheapen transport, the wooden waggonway was replaced by a new line laid with malleable iron rails, completed in 1833."

Continuing by reference to the present day online map mentioned in the second paragraph of this note - the Fordell estate, as it was in the Hendersons' day, is roughly the area east of the M90, from just south of Crossgates to the A921 road. That's the Fordell Burn running down the middle.

As I write this, I also have in front of me a photocopy of a large scale map of the Fordell estate, dated 1756. The original, which is in poor condition, is in the National Archives of Scotland. My photocopied version is even fainter.

The Coaltoun was the name for the original mining settlement of the 18th century. If you imagine a straight line drawn between Fordell and Hillend on the online map (a distance of about 4.5 miles), the Coaltoun was approximately one mile south of Fordell, along this line. (I worked this out independently; but, as I came to the same conclusion as the Inglises, I'm fairly confident about it.)

A close examination of the 1756 map shows the Coaltoun as comprising three significant collections of buildings and one smaller one, fairly close to each other:

* The north western buildings. This looks like about 7 rows of cottages. There is no name, but there is what appears to be a named geographical feature close by: "Hobby's hole". These cottages will be the ones referred to in other old documents as Habbeshall/Hobbes Hall.

* The south western buildings. About 6 rows of cottages. Again no name - but clearly marked, just to the east of them, is "Kelly's Hill".

I can't make anything of the other 2 sets of buildings at the moment. They lie to the east of Kelly's Hill.

I don't know when the Coaltoun buildings fell into disuse - perhaps not long after 1800, when (according to the Inglises) Fordell village came into being. A close look at the Old Parochial Registers might answer this question. But I'm sure that looking for the Coaltoun today would be like looking for a lost city in the South American jungle.

It looks to me as if we can guess, as a rough and ready rule of thumb, that the Japps who were miners lived in the Coaltoun until about 1800, and thereafter in Fordell village.

I have a better map, from 1856, which shows Fordell village, and the old rows of miners' cottages. Coalton is marked, but there are no houses shown. Between Fordell and Coalton are houses called "Muir Rows": there was a family of Japps there in the 1851 Census (unless there was more than one Muir Row - I have some census entries with the address "Muir Row, Mossgreen"; it's not clear if this is the same one or not).

Crossgates (on the online map) is now a fair sized town. Today it effectively incorporates two other old settlements: Mossgreen (between Crossgates and Fordell on the map); and Springhill (the southern part of Crossgates).

The present day village of Fordell is quite different from the 19th century (and earlier 20th century) one. The old miners' cottages, which were mainly to the west of the road to Aberdour, have gone.

The Fordell village street names which are shown on the 1856 map are:

Coles Terrace

Wemyss Row

Ter..... Row

Durham's Row

Mercer's Row

The Square


The old parish church, opened about 1830, is still in use, and the last time I was there the occupiers were the Cornerstone Full Gospel Church. The Church of Scotland congregation moved to a new building in Dalgety Bay new town some years ago. The cemetery at the old church is still used for local burials, and is in the care of Fife Council.

This church replaced the much older St Bridget's Kirk, a little to the south and close to the sea. The ruins and the churchyard of St Bridget's are worth a visit too.

Eric Simpson tells an interesting tale about access to St Bridget’s:

"At the end of the Victorian era, Dalgety gained a rather remarkable clergyman. This was the Rev Donald Stewart Rose, who was ordained in 1899. When the gate leading to St Bridget's was barred and locked on the instructions of the Earl of Moray, the Rev Donald Rose was not the man to take this lying down. Investigating the matter, he ascertained that the track down the hill past Barns Farm was undoubtedly a right of way. It had been a kirk road until 1830, and, although St Bridget's had become a ruin, some of the parishioners were still tending the graves in the kirkyard. Getting no satisfaction from the Morays, the parish minister took out his shotgun and blasted the lock open."

In the first half of the nineteenth century, the parish church’s location in the south caused problems as the Fordell mines were developed and the population in the north of the parish increased dramatically. So, in 1852, the Church of Scotland established a quoad sacra parish, with its own church building, based on Mossgreen (now effectively part of the town of Crossgates).

A quoad sacra parish is one formed for ecclesiastical purposes only, and the forming of Mossgreen Parish had no impact on post-1854 civil registration or census data, which continued to be recorded under Dalgety. It did mean, however, that Mossgreen had its own church records (e.g. Kirk Session minutes) and its own cemetery. Mossgreen cemetery is still there, although the church has gone.

There is a United Presbyterian Church marked on an 1856 map. It is in the part of Crossgates which lies in Dunfermline Parish.


Again I quote from Eric Simpson:

"In the eighteenth century, however, another school appeared in the north of the parish - in a location that was more convenient for the colliers of Fordell. The colliers, as we have seen, preferred to pay for their own teacher rather than send their children to the distant parish school.

However, according to a Parliamentary Enquiry in 1834, this ‘adventure’ or ‘subscription’ school had been vacant for some time and had only ‘lately been re-opened’. The subjects taught at Fordell were the same as at the parish school - namely, reading, writing, arithmetic, geography, and book-keeping. With rolls of 47 and 66 pupils respectively, the ‘instructors’ must have earned their meagre salaries. A new school building had been provided in the village by the proprietor of the colliery - Admiral Sir Philip Durham. The former Fordell school was then used for community activities. It was in the ‘Auld Schule’ that the Fordell Ball and other dances were held. The new school, with Mr Thomson, a well-regarded teacher in charge, was highly successful. The average daily attendance was 230 and evening classes were run for adults too. This too was long before school attendance became compulsory.

In the early nineteenth century we find the parish school located beside the farm of Drumcooper, which was an early centre of mining activity and thus more populous than it is now. A school at this spot is marked on the 6 inch Ordnance Survey map of 1856. This school with a dwelling-house for the teacher was erected and endowed by the heritors of the parish around 1803. By the mid-1850s it was poorly attended. We are told that the average number of scholars ‘does not exceed 17 or 18’. By this time the mining population had moved further north to Fordell. The low school roll would explain why the parish school was flitted once more to Hillend village. Hillend School opened in 1859 with John Cunningham as headmaster.

As to the standard of education achieved, the evidence is contradictory. Although the Rev Alexander Watt claimed in 1836 that there were no persons in the parish, apart from those under school age, who were not able to read, this could not have been true. In 1840 the investigator for the Parliamentary Enquiry into working conditions in mines found that a number of the adolescents employed at Fordell read not at all or only very badly. He remarked that in this district most of the children seemed to have been allowed ‘to run wild after work.’

Here is the kind of report that he wrote after interviewing the children employed at Fordell:

Euphemia Jupp, 12 years old, putter ‘Used to go to school: is too far gone (tired) to gang noo. Sits at home after work or looks about. Goes to kirk when it suits.’ Not surprisingly this lassie was one of the collier girls who read very badly.”


The Japps (and variations) in Scotland appear frequently in the North East of Scotland, Angus, the Glasgow area, and Fife. There appear to have been close relationships between some Japp miners’ families in Lanarkshire and Dalgety.

In Dalgety itself, there was frequent inter-marrying between the Japps, the Beveridges and the Muirs. The forename Walter was very popular with these families, often making it very difficult to distinguish between men of the same name and generation.

I'm a Japp, certainly a Dalgety Japp, and probably a Japp of the Fordell mining community. In 1817, Christian Japp married David Mitchell who was a small scale tenant farmer at Clinkhill on the Fordell Estate. This is recorded in the Old Parochial Registers for Dalgety (see below). Christian and David are my great great grandparents.

I’ve been able to find quite a lot of information on David Mitchell's family, but Christian Japp remains elusive. There is no record of her birth, nor indeed of her death. Her husband David appears in the 1841 census, apparently ‘unmarried’, so it is likely that she died prior to June 1841.

My current theory on Christian's birth is as follows. Her own first daughter, born in 1819, was Elspeth. Assuming traditional naming patterns (with the eldest daughter named after the maternal grandmother), it seems likely that Christian was the daughter of Walter Jap and Elspet Wilson. Perhaps the absence of a birth record was related in some way to Walter and Elspet's irregular marriage.

The irregular marriage was eventually recognised by the Church of Scotland, as we see from the following entry for 1789 in the Dalgety register: “At the same time appeared Walter Jap and Elspet Wilson also owning on irregular marriage - they were accordingly rebuked and declared married persons.”

I have been unable to find any births to this couple in the Dalgety registers, although the birth of a son, James, in 1790 or 1791 is recorded in the International Genealogical Index of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. James certainly existed, because he married Cecilia Clark in 1812, and the couple had a dozen or so children.

I have not yet made a serious attempt to go further back than this, although I hope to so some day. The deficiencies in the Dalgety parochial registers and the frequent occurrence of certain forenames among the Dalgety Japps mean that this would be a difficult and time consuming task.


This Church (colloquially know as the Mormon Church) was actively engaged in missionary work in the Dalgety and Auchterderran mining communities as early as the mid 19th century. They appear to have had a fair measure of success. Here are two examples of the amazing commitment to their new faith demonstrated by Japp family converts from Fordell (both kindly supplied by Jim Lovera of Monte Rio, California, who found them in the Mormon archives).

“[Walter Muir was the second son of Thomas Muir and Montgomery Japp of Fordell.] ..... Walter Muir ..... was a very early Mormon convert, joining the Church on 31 December 1846. On 24 September 1848, he boarded the ship ‘Sailor Prince’ in Liverpool, accompanied by 311 other Mormon emigrants, and landed at New Orleans on 20 November 1848. ..... Walter Muir's family included his wife, his seven children, his son-in-law, daughter-in-law, and four grandchildren.”

And the second example:

“..... as a background to this period of U.S. history ..... Ellison (Allison) Jaap was involved in a very tragic affair. In 1856, Brigham Young, the Mormon president, devised a plan whereby emigrants from Britain could come to Utah if they were willing to pull handcarts and walk the 1,300 miles from Iowa to Salt Lake City. Ellison, her husband Paul Gourley, and two small children were members of the Edward Martin Handcart Company. Unfortunately, this group was late in beginning their trip in the fall of 1856, and met with disaster when winter storms trapped the emigrants along the Sweetwater River in Wyoming. Two hundred members of the company died of starvation and cold, before Brigham Young could send a rescue party of wagons from Salt Lake City. Ellison Jaap’s two young children died. There are conflicting stories on the fate of Ellison. One report says she died in Wyoming, and the other states that she made it to Utah.  A journal kept by one of the members of the Martin Company mentions  the death of her seven month old child, Margaret, with the following  entry: ‘15 August 1856. A child was buried this morning. The coffin  had to be made, which delayed us until about 8 o’clock.’ ”

I can supply a further example from what I believe to be my own Japp family. Isabella, one of the daughters of James Japp and Cecilia Clark, married George Edgar in 1851 at Fordell. She is recorded as dying in 1916, and her husband the following year - both in Salt Lake City.


The Dalgety registers comprise (with the years I have searched noted):


Births 1644-1650

Marriages 1644-1662

Deaths 1697-1709


Births 1717-1819 (searched 1768-74, 1785-1819)

Marriages 1709-1819 (1805-10 missing)

Deaths 1710-1785


Births 1819-1854 (searched 1819-47)

Marriages 1819-1855

Deaths 1844-1854 (only a dozen or so lairds and a minister recorded) (searched)

I can't be sure of the reasons for the gaps in the OPRs. But I understand from Eric Simpson, the local historian who wrote the book on the parish, that some may have perished in fires at Donibristle House and at the Church of Scotland manse.

The Japp etc entries which I found in the registers which I searched are as follows:


July 23. Walter Jap to James Jap.

November 3. Euphan Jap to Thomas Jap and Catherine Cavin in the Coalton.


January 31. Euphan Jap lawful daughter to James Jap and Christian Muir in the Coalton.


March 25. Robert lawful son to David Beveridge and Christian Jap in Habbeshall(?).

September 10. Robert Jap lawful son to Thomas Jap Katharine Cowin.


[No day or month] ..... At the same time appeared Walter Jap and Elspet Wilson also owning on irregular marriage - they were accordingly rebuked and declared married persons.


Richard was born Robert Penman and Elspet Jap on 10th March 1790.


Baptisms 1800 [sic]. Alexander natural son to Euphan Jap was born 11 July 1799. [Entry has a line through it and may have been deleted.]


John Alexander son to Thomas Armstrong(?) and Euphimia Japp Kittishill(?) was born 13 July 1801.

Elizabeth daughter to Robert ..... Elspit Jap in Fordel ..... 7th 1801.


William lawful son to James Japp and Cicil Clark was born 7 December 1814.


Andrew lawful son to James Japp and Cicil Clark in the colliery was born 4 February 1817.

 (17?) June 1817. David Mitchell in the parish of Inverkeithing and Christian Japp in this parish gave up their names for proclamation in order to marriage and after regular proclamation were married.


Elspeth, lawful daughter to David Mitchel and Christian Japp in Clinkhill was born July 5th 1819.

James, lawful son to James Jap and Pisil(?) Clerk in the colliery was born 5th ----- 1819. (A separate entry says "Cicil Clerk" and "born September 1819".)


William, lawful son to David Mitchell and Christina Japp Clinkhill was born 8 August 1821.

Cicil(?), lawful daughter to James Japp and Eider(?) Clark was born 15 October 1821.


Alexander, lawful son to James Japp and Cicil Clark was born 1 January 1823.


Jane, lawful daughter to David Mitchell and Christian Japp Clinkhill was born 1 March 1824.


Elspeth, lawful daughter to James Japp and Cicil Clark in the Square was born 17 February 1826.

Ann, lawful daughter to Alexander Japp and Ann Paterson in the colliery was born 11 September 1826.


Euphia, lawful daughter to Alexander Japp and Ann Paterson in the colliery was born 29 November 1827.


Elisabeth, lawful daughter to James Japp and Cicil Clark in the square was born 10 March 1828.


Thomas, lawful son to James Japp and and Cicil Clark in the square was born 1 March 1830.


Janet Ruston(?), lawful daughter to Alexander Japp and Ann Paterson was born 5 November 1831.


Christian, lawful daughter to James Japp and Cicil Clark in the Square was born 13 July 1832.


I had a look at the 1841, 1851, 1881 and 1891 censuses for Dalgety, and the 1891 census for Aberdour (which contains a small part of the later Fordell mining community). Here is what I found.

(My abbreviations, as appropriate to the column, are:

H head of household

W wife

S son

D daughter

WW widow

M married

U unmarried

SP spinster

D Dalgety

A Aberdour

AT Auchtertool

AD Auchterderran

K Kinghorn

F Fife

The columns are Name, Age, Relation to Head, Marital Status, Occupation, Where Born.)

1841 CENSUS (Dalgety)


William Japp                         26                                            Coal Miner                                                     F

Christian Japp                       25-29                                                                                                               F


Cicil Clark                              47                            SP                                                                                    F

Cicil Japp                               19                                            Coal Drawer                                                   F

Elspeth Japp                         15                                            Coal Drawer                                                   F

Elizabeth Japp                       13                                                                                                                    F

Christian Japp                         8                                                                                                                    F

Isabel Japp                              6                                                                                                                    F

Alexander Japp                     17                                            Coal Miner                                                    F

Office Row

Montgomery Japp                80-84                       SP                                                                                   F

Betty Muir                             45-49                                       Outdoor Labourer                                        F

William Muir                         18                                            Coal Miner                                                     F

Office Row

Archibald Livingston                47                                            Coal Miner                                               F

Agnes Livingston                     44                                                                                                               F

Thomas Japp                             44                                            Agricultural Labourer                             F

1851 CENSUS (Dalgety)

Muir Row

Rachel(?) Japp                      58                H                WW                                                                                   K

Christian Japp                       18                D                U                Out Door Labourer                                      D

Isabella Japp                         16                D                U                Out Door Labourer                                      D

Office Row

Euphama Japp                      82                H                W[?]                Pauper(formerly Out Door Labourer)                D

1881 CENSUS (Dalgety)


John Japp                              30                H                M                Coal Miner                                                     D

Eliza Japp                               29                W              M                                                                                         AT

Janet Japp                             10                D                                    Scholar                                                            D

Walter Japp                             9                S                                    Scholar                                                            D

Christina Japp                         7                D                                   Scholar                                                            D

Eliza Japp                                 6                D                                   Scholar                                                            D

William Japp                            3                S                                                                                                             D

Agnes(?) Japp                        1                D                                                                                                             D

Old Terrace, Fordell

Christine Japp                       68                H                WW           Coal Miner's Widow                                     D

Alison Japp                           36                D                U                General Servant Domestic                             D

Eliza Japp                               25                D                U                General Servant Domestic                            AD

1891 CENSUS (Dalgety)

No Japps.

1891 CENSUS (Aberdour)

Wemys Square, Mossgreen

James Japp                            51                H                M                Coal Miner                                                     D

Maggie Japp                         52                W               M                                                                                         A

Colledge, Mossgreen

John Japp                              40                H                M                Coal Miner                                                     D

(plus family)


I also had a look at two of the old cemeteries in the Parish of Dalgety. (For St Bridget’s, where the headstones are very weathered, I relied on the Mitchells' "Monumental Inscriptions" - but no Japps were recorded.)

I could find only one Japp headstone in the cemetery at the 1830 Parish Church: the splendidly named Montgomery Japp. This stone reads:


Erected by Thos Muir and Wm Rutherford in memory of Thomas Muir their grandfather and Montgomery Japp his wife

Also David Muir their son

And Agnes Hind his wife”

It's not clear what the date 1877 refers to - probably the date the stone was erected, which could be when one of those listed died.

I saw two headstones with the name in Mossgreen cemetery. The older one says:

“Erected by James Japp in memory of his sons

Walter died 14th November 1858 aged three months

Adam died 8th June 1860 aged nine months

Walter died 18th October 1865 aged one month

Also his …. daughter Annie Japp who died 23rd(?) March 1882(?) aged 15 years

Also his wife Ann Robertson died 11th November 1885 aged 48 years”

The other one includes Christina Japp (wife of William Johnston) who died on 10 April 1947, aged 73.

I haven't examined the cemetery records.


I was lucky to be working round the corner from the Scottish Record Office (now the National Archives of Scotland) in Edinburgh a few years ago, and I took the opportunity to spend many lunch hours ploughing through the Henderson of Fordell papers. They were the owners of the Fordell estate.

Here is a transcript of a particularly interesting document which I came across. It is an undertaking by Thomas Jap and others dated 2 April 1772.

"Coaltoun 2d April 1772

We Thomas Jap and Robert Beveridge Colliers belonging to Fordell Colliery hereby become bound for Walter Cowan Collier also bound to said Colliery and now lying in Edinburgh Tolbooth that immediately upon his liberation he shall come home to his Masters Work and their work peaceably and faithfully in future, without giving the least molestation or endeavouring to raise Mutinies or other disturbances in the colliery. As also that the said Walter Cowan shall bring home Elspith Jap a Coal Bearer likewise belonging to Fordell Works and now working about East Lothian. All this we engage and come bound for under the penalty of two pounds ten shillings sterling to be paid to Sir Robert Henderson in case of failure.

Thos. Japp his Initials   TJ

Robert Beveridge his initials   R

John Latta(?) signed for Elspith Japp   (ink smudge)"

There are two Japs mentioned. It's an interesting indication of the power of the colliery owners in these days, although I don't think the Hendersons were the worst of the breed by any means. It was only in 1799 that Parliament legislated to end the legal serfdom of the Scottish coal miners.

At a guess, Walter Cowan may have been a 'troublemaker' and ended up in jail because of it. Perhaps Elspith Jap and he had a relationship, and she escaped from Fordell to be closer to him. (I see from the OPRs above a birth in 1774 to Thomas Jap and Katharine Cowin, so perhaps Walter Cowan was Thomas Japp's brother-in-law.)

Here are some notes which I made from 3 other sources in the Henderson papers which mention the name Jaap (I was also interested in the Mitchells and others, which is why their names also feature).

NAS Reference 776. 22 October 1881. G.W. Mercer Henderson's funeral. About 30 bearers in 4 teams - included David Mitchell (representing St Davids) and James Jaap (representing colliery pits).

NAS Reference 788/14. Colliery paybills 1885. Example - October 1885: Cuttlehill Lands, William Pit, Splint Seam - David Mitchell (1 men); Five Foot Seam - William Mitchell, 2 operton(?) (3 men); Aboveground Oncost - Kate Mitchell (Banking); George Pit - David Mitchell, 2 operton on; George Pit - James Mitchell (Wheeler); Lady Anne Pit, Lochgelly Splint Seam - James Jaap Jun; Blowlowan Seam - James Jaap Sen. Other examples showed: General expenses - James Innes & Co (filling small coal); Mynheer Seam - John Jaap, James Jaap; John Jaap & Co; David Mitchell (bottomer).

NAS Reference 788/25. Colliery paybills 1886. Examples - February: David Mitchell (2 entries), John Low, William Mitchell, Duncan Jaap, John Jaap & Co, Walter Jaap, James Jaap Jun, Kate Mitchell; June - David Mitchell, William Mitchell, Walter Jaap (Driver), James Jaap Sen, James Jaap Jun, Catherine Mitchell (also entries for waggon filling or lifting from stock for Catherine Mitchell, David Mitchell, James Mitchell, William Mitchell, David Mitchell Jun (?)); October: previous names plus Thomas Innes, Jane Innes.


I also have some rough notes from the minutes of the Kirk Session of Mossgreen Church and there are mentions of Japps, but I will have to transcribe these before I can make any sense of them. They start in the late 19th century.

In 1992 I wrote a letter to the 5 Jaaps, 10 Japps and 2 Jappys listed in the Fife phone book, asking if they might be descended from relations of Christian. I got a few responses, including one from a descendant of Andrew Japp (born 1817, see above), but drew a blank on my main question. The general opinion from those who responded was that the name was Dutch in origin.


The Jaaps of Scotland -

Japp Family Genealogy Forum -



June 2004 (subsequently updated)

Return to home page