Tarbreakes SMS S NO528023 2 15m

Turbrec’ 1260 St A. Lib. 384 [rubric; see discussion below]
totam dictam terram de Turbrech 1260 St A. Lib. 384 [‘all the said land of Tarbreakes’, quitclaimed by John of Denmuir; see discussion]
terra que uocatur Turbrech 1260 St A. Lib. 384 [see discussion]
totam terram illam que dicitur Turbrek 1260 St A. Lib. 385 [see discussion]
Turbrec’ 1286 St A. Lib. 386
Turbrec’ 1323 Dunf. Reg. no. 364 [see discussion]
Torbreaks 1813 Sasines no. 9722 [‘the field called Torbreaks ... near St Monance’ barony of Newark SMS]
Tearbreaks 1887 Wood 1887, 423
Torbrek 1887 Wood 1887, 423 [see discussion]
Tarbreakes 20 th century Coal Farm plan [see discussion]

G tòrr + G breac

‘Speckled or variegated (steep or conical) hill(ock)’, the name has acquired Sc or SSE plural ending by the time it appears in the early nineteenth-century: this is probably not to do with any division of the lands, but rather with the assimilation of the second element to Sc breeks ‘trousers’.

The thirteenth-century forms given above occur in the context of documents anent a dispute between John of Denmuir (Dundemor’) DBG and the prior and monks of the Isle of May, ‘anent a certain land which is called Torbrek’ (super quadam terra que uocatur Turbrech). After many altercations between them, the matter was settled as follows: John quitclaimed to the priory ‘the whole said land of Tarbreakes by its proper and ancient marches’ (totam dictam terram de Turbrech per suas rectas et antiquas diuisas) and confirmed it in free alms. In return the priory granted John and his heirs one monk celebrating the divine office ‘in the chapel of the BVM in the island of May’ (in capella beate Marie uirginis in insula de May) for his soul and the souls of his predecessors and successors for ever; also half a mark of silver or ‘sixty cod’ (sexaginta mulewellos, a version of morus-i ‘a cod’) at two dates in the year: half at Pentecost, half at St Martin’s in winter (at the discretion of the prior and monks as to whether it is in money or kind); as well as ‘one glass lamp in the church of Ceres’ (unam lampadem uitream in ecclesia de Syreis) and two gallons of oil for its maintenance or 12 d. per annum for ever (St A. Lib. 384). The next charter is John’s grant of the same land to the Isle of May (St A. Lib. 385). The dispute re-erupted twenty-six years later, and judgement was given by William, bishop of St Andrews, again in favour of the monks of May (St A. Lib. 386).

Rev. Walter Wood’s discussion (1887, 423) describes the position of this place: ‘the lands of Torbrek or Tearbreaks, now part of the coal-farm (sic) between St. Monans and Pittenweem, and lying principally on the north side of the highway towards Balcaskie and Cairnbriggs’.[357] He identifies it with the land which was in dispute between Sir John Denmuir and the monks of May in 1260 (St A. Lib. 384–6). Wood adds ‘A dispute arose about this land between Sir John and the monks, which probably was as to whether it was included in the lands of Cairnbriggs or Inverye granted to the May, or whether it was part of the lands acquired by him’ (loc. cit.).

It is not absolutely certain that the land of Torbrek involved in the dispute of 1260 is in SMS, since the same name appears as *Torbrecks CRA and *Torbreck KMB (q.v.), but two aspects of this legal settlement suggest that we are dealing with Tarbreakes SMS.[358] First, the triumphant party in the dispute is the prior and convent of May, who had held neighbouring Inverie SMS since the mid twelfth-century, and also held nearby Cairnbriggs SMS at least as early as c.1300 (May Recs. p. cxiii), while there is nothing to suggest that May held an interest in either of the other places called Torbreks/*Torbreck (in CRA and KMB). Secondly, three of the witnesses to the grant of Tarbreakes (St A. Lib. 385) are very local figures: John Cook (Coco) and Richard Cook (Coco), both of Abercrombie (Abircrumby) SMS, and John Cook (Coco) of Balcaskie CBE, about 1.2 km from Tarbreakes.[359]

An agreement is recorded between the abbot of Dumfermline and ‘the priors of St Andrews and of May’ (priores Sancti Andree et Maij) in 1323 (Dunf. Reg. no. 364). It states that the abbot and convent of Dunfermline have granted to the priors of May ‘all their teinds of Pitottar ANR, of Falside CBE, of Tarbreakes and of the two Ballgallys # CBE,[360] which lands belong to the foresaid prior of May by virtue of his priorship’ (integras decimas suas <de> Petocyr’ de Fawsyd de Turbrec’ et de duabus Bal.alliis cum pertinenciis q<ue> terre sunt predicti prioris de Mayii racione prioratus sui) in return for an annual payment of sixty shillings, to be paid twice a year on the feasts of the Purification and of Pentecost.

The name still exists as a field-name on the lands of Coal Farm PIT, on whose farm plan it appears as Tarbreakes,[361] and the NGR given above is for the centre of this field.


This place-name appeared in printed volume 3