The ancient university town of St Andrews is located on the north-east coast of Fife, next to 'the German Ocean' (now called the North Sea). Named after its ruined cathedral and Scotland's patron saint, St Andrews was, up until the Reformation, the ecclesiastical capital of Scotland. Before it became a Christian centre during the reign of a Pictish king in the ninth century, the town was known as Mucros, which means 'wood or promontory of the pigs' (there is still a section of the town called Boarhills). If local legend is to believed, it was St Regulus, or St Rule, who brought the ancient relics (i.e. his bones) of Saint Andrew back to Scotland from Greece in AD 345. This explains why the town was known in Gaelic as baile reuil, which means the 'town of Rule'.
The town was first granted a royal charter by David I of Scotland in, or around, 1140. St Andrews also enjoys prestige for being the 'home of golf', with written golfing records dating back to as early as 1552. The town's population in the census of 1801 was 3,263, increasing to 4,462 in 1831.
Trade and Industry
The main industry in St Andrews at the time of this survey was the weaving of linen, which was then taken to factories in Dundee and Newburgh for completion. The making of golf balls and golf clubs was also a major industry, although the golf ball industry was extinct by 1857. An extensive steam saw-mill was located close to the harbour, while several large flour mills were owned by an incorporation of bakers. A grain market was held every Monday, while fairs took place on festival dates throughout the year. There were also weekly markets for poultry, dairy produce and vegetables. The railway line to 'the Metropolis of Golfing' opened in 1852, with the station located in the western part of the town.
Although the port of St Andrews suffered a decline following its heyday during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, the harbour enjoyed a revival of trade during the early nineteenth century. The harbour at St Andrews was also the first in Scotland to have a lifeboat station, which opened in 1800. The East Neuk region of Fife is located to the south-east of St Andrews, and this collection of ancient fishing villages provided the town with a diverse range of sea produce. The town's rural hinterland, meanwhile, provided St Andrews with grain, potatoes and other produce from the farms of Fife.
As the centre of Scottish religious life, St Andrews witnessed many important events during the Reformation. Indeed, the Martyrs' Monument is located close to the Royal and Ancient Clubhouse. It was from one of the windows in the twelfth-century castle that Cardinal David Beaton was thrown to his death by a group of Fife lairds, in a revenge attack for the public burning of the Protestant preacher, George Wishart.
Although the twelfth-century Abbey had previously suffered damage from fire, storms and English armies, its eventual destruction was carried out by a congregational mob. This rabble descended upon the Abbey in a collective fit of frenzy in June 1559, following a fiery sermon by John Knox, and destroyed everything that they considered to be 'popery'.
Long renowned as a centre of religious and classical learning, Scotland's first university was established here by Bishop Wardlaw in 1411. The University of St Andrews has a rich history and alumni, with the curricular emphasis very much on the classics. One of the university's most famous graduates was Edward Jenner, who pioneered the smallpox vaccination. Turning attention to the education of children, Madras College, located in South Street (beside the West Port), was built on land gifted to the school by the famous educationalist, Rev. Dr. Andrew Bell, in 1832.