(£ 10 from) Passagio Comitis 1225 RRS v no. 141 [inspection in 1318 of charter by Alexander II re Earl Malcolm’s grants to Culross Abbey]
iu ta Passagium Comitis de Fyff c.1250 NLS MS Adv. 34.6.24, p. 218 [18th c. copy; see Grange ELI, below]
Erlesferie 1292 x 1296 Brevis Descriptio 33 [referring to the crossing itself: ‘These 2 provinces (Teviotdale and Lothian) extend as far as Earlsferry and Queensferry, in one case the water is 12 leagues in breadth, and the other 2 leagues’ (Iste due provincie (Tyvidale et Louthian) extendunt se usque Erlesferie et Queneferie, id est aqua xii leucas in latitudine et in alio loco ij leucas)]
in marisio Hospitalis passagii Comitis 1295 NLS 34.6.24, p. 217 [17th c. copy; ‘in the moss of the hospital of Earlsferry’; see Grange ELI for more details]
Passagium Comitis 1304 CDS vi, 461 [‘from North Berwick as far as the Earl’s Ferry’ (de Northberwico usque Passagium Comitis)]
the Erllis Fery c.1420 Chron. Wyntoun vol. 4, 287 [MacDuff, fleeing Macbeth, sails from Earlsferry]
(the port and haven of) Erlisferry 1498 RSS i no. 260 [‘the portis and havynis of Pettinweme, Andstruthir, Erlisferry and Carrale (Crail)’]
the fferie 1545 x 1555 N. Berwick Cart. p. xxiii [‘Item set to the ladie Kingcraige the teynd fische off the fferie’]
the teind fish of the Erlisferry c.1560 s Assumption, 146 [Northberwick Priory]
the teind fish of the Ferie c.1560 s Assumption, 167 [Northberwick Priory]
burgum de Erlisferry 1589 RMS v no. 1652 [(re-)establishing the burgh; see discussion, below]
Ersilferrie 1589 RMS v no. 1675 [sic]
Earles ferry 1654 Blaeu (Gordon) Fife
the Ferrie 1654 Lamont’s Diary 74 [‘they came to the Ellie, (wher they dranke some wine,) and to the Ferry, to Andro Woods house’]
the Ferry 1669 Lamont’s Diary 213 [shipwreck there]
Earlsferry 1753 Roy sheet 18, 1
Earls Ferry 1775 Ainslie/Fife
Earlsferry 1790s OSA 350 [‘the inhabitants of Earslferry, so called from Earl McDuff, ferried him over to North Berwick ...’]
Earlsferry 1855 OS 6 inch 1st edn
Sc earl + Sc ferry
‘Ferry or regular crossing (between Lothian and Fife) established by an earl’. That the earl in question was Earl Duncan I of Fife (1133 × 1154) is indicated by a charter issued by Bishop Richard of St Andrews (1165 × 1178) which confirms the donation which Earl Duncan senior made to the nuns of North Berwick of the land of Gillecamestone (now lost, near North Berwick ELO, containing the G personal name Gillecholuim) ‘and of two hospitals’ (et de duabus hospitalibus) (N. Berwick Cart. no. 4). At around the same time (c.1177) Earl Duncan II of Fife, son of Duncan I, (re-)granted to the nuns ‘two hospitals, one beside the southern sea-harbour (i.e. North Berwick ELO), the other beside the northern harbour of the same crossing (i.e. Earlsferry FIF), which (hospitals) my father established for the reception of the poor and pilgrims’ (duo hospitalia unum iuxta portum maris australem, alterum iuxta portum eiusdem transitus aquilonalem que pater meus statuit in susceptionem pauperum et peregrinorum) (N. Berwick Cart. no. 3). It can be assumed that a regular crossing was established at the same time as the hospitals, and both the ferry and the hospitals were put in place to cater for the increasing pilgrim traffic to St Andrews (for which see SSL Introduction, From *Kinrymont to St Andrews).
In 1589 the king established Earlsferry as a royal burgh in recognition of its supposed existing status as a free burgh ‘erected from of old, beyond the memory of men’ (ab antiquo ultra hominum memoriam in liberum burgum erectum). The charter cites various proofs of the antiquity of Earlsferry’s claims, noting that its original charter was lost in a fire in Edinburgh (RMS v no. 1652), and grants the right to have a market cross in Earlsferry, and two weekly markets, on Friday and another day. The Register of the Privy Seal also notes that the burgh should have two annual fairs, one on the feast of St Nicholas (6 December), and the other on another date (RMS v p. 566 note: ‘cum duabus publicis nundinis annuatim, una die S. Nicolai et altera die ...’).
The settlement is a long linear area of housing, the above NGR being for Earlsferry House as shown on OS 6 inch 1855. OS Pathf. also shows Earlsferry Links.
This place-name appeared in printed volume 3