The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland - 1868

Description(s) from The National Gazetteer (1868)

"DUNBAR, a parish and market town in the county of Haddington, Scotland. The main portion of the parish extends along the coast, and is bounded on the N. by the Firth of Forth, and on the other sides by the parishes of Innerwick, Spott, Stenton, Prestonkirk, and Whitekirk. It extends in a south-easterly direction about 8 miles, with a breadth of 4 miles. It includes the town of Dunbar, and the villages of East and West Barns and Belhaven. The interior is pleasing, and rises gradually to about 700 feet towards the Lammermoor hills on the S. The soil is partly clay and partly a light earth, and is eminently fertile. Red sandstone is abundant, and limestone is quarried. The Duke of Roxburgh, the Earl of Haddington, and Sir John Warrender, of Lochend, are the most noted of the landed proprietors. The fishing on the coast is good. The North British railway and the road from Edinburgh to London traverse the parish. The parish is the seat of a presbytery and is in the synod of Lothian and Tweeddale, and in the patronage of the Duke of Roxburgh. There are two parish schools, and also a grammar school belonging to the burgh. There is a Free church, two United Presbyterian churches, and chapels belonging to the Baptists, Methodists, and Morrisonians. The town of Dunbar is pleasantly situated on the coast at the mouth of the Firth of Forth, 28 miles E. of Edinburgh, and 30 N.W. of Berwick. It is a royal burgh, and consists of three streets running in a northerly direction, the chief of which is the High-street-a wide thoroughfare lined with modern houses, and terminated at its northern end by Dunbar House, formerly the residence of the Earl of Lauderdale, and now occupied as militia barracks. The harbours are at the N.E. end of the town, and the celebrated castle of Dunbar is situated at the N. end behind Dunbar House. The parish church is situated on the S.E. environs of the town. It is built of a red stone, and the tower, 108 feet high, with the additional advantage of the elevated position of the building, serves as a landmark to seamen. Behind the pulpit is a magnificent monument of various coloured marbles, 12 feet broad at the base and 26 feet in height, erected in 1611 to George Home, Earl of Dunbar. This statesman was much esteemed by James VI., having successively filled the offices of High Treasurer of Scotland and Chancellor of the Exchequer in England. In 1606 he had sufficient interest with the Scottish parliament to obtain the passing of the Act for the restoration of bishops. Dunbar Castle, which was demolished in 1567, is even in its ruins an object of great antiquarian interest. From its great strength and its position, situated on trap rocks which project into the sea, it was believed to be impregnable before the use of cannon. Being one of the strongest of the fortresses in the border counties its history is necessarily connected with that of the whole country. The noble family of Dunbar, to which it originally belonged, was founded by Cospatrick, the son of Maldred, the grandson on the mother's side of Uthred, prince of Northumberland. On the conquest of England by William the Conqueror, Cospatrick, along with other nobles, fled into Scotland, where Malcolm Canmore granted him the manor of Dunbar and other lands in the Merse and Lothian, from which he took the title of Earl of March. In 1296 the Castle of Dunbar surrendered to Edward I. after the defeat by the Earl of Warrenne of the Scottish army. On this occasion the Earl of Dunbar took part with the English, but his countess obtained possession of the castle and delivered it to the Scottish leaders. From this castle Edward II. escaped to England after the destruction of his army at Bannockburn. In 1377 the castle was besieged by the English under the Earls of Salisbury and Arundel, and defended by the Countess of Dunbar (commonly called Black Agnes) in the absence of her husband. At the end of the 14th century the Earl of Dunbar and March, from the possessions he inherited, became one of the most powerful of the Scottish nobles. In 1435 George the 11th earl visited the English court along with his son Patrick; this act awakened the jealousies of James I., who seized on the earldom and estates of Dunbar, which thus became vested in the crown. On the marriage of Margaret of England with the king of Scots in 1502 the earldom of Dunbar and lordship of Cockburnspath, with their dependencies, were assigned as the jointure of the Queen, but the Castle of Dunbar was expressly reserved by the king to himself. To this castle Mary Queen of Scots retired after the murder of Rizzio in 1565, and immediately issued a proclamation calling on her friends to meet her at Haddington. On the 19th of April the parliament conferred the captaincy of the Castle of Dunbar on James, Earl of Bothwell, who a few days after, on the Queen's return from Stirling, conducted her to this castle, thereby commencing the intimacy which terminated in his marriage with Mary on the 15th of May, 1567. In the following month Bothwell, after the surrender of the Queen at Musselborough to the associated lords, fled from this fortress by sea to Orkney, with which event the history of Dunbar Castle closes, as it was the same year ordered by parliament to be destroyed. The town house is ancient. The assembly rooms were erected in 1822. The old harbour is small. Victoria harbour, begun in 1844, is a fishingboat harbour for 500 boats. It is intended to take advantage of the numerous rocks off the town for constructing a harbour of refuge, which is much needed on this coast. In the 16th and 17th centuries Dunbar was much frequented by the Dutch, as well as the Scotch, for the herring fishery. The trade of the town has fluctuated greatly at different times. At present white and herring fisheries employ a considerable number of the inhabitants. Here are also several breweries; extensive brick and tile works, paper mills, flour mills, and agricultural implement and cement works; there is also an iron foundry. The malt made here has long been celebrated. A small debt circuit court is held on the third Tuesday of February, April, June, August, October, and December. The municipal government of Dunbar consists of 12 councillors, from whom are elected a provost, 3 bailies, and a treasurer. The jurisdiction of the magistrates extends over the whole royalty, the limits of which, however, are all defined. There are no incorporated trades, and the revenue of the burgh in 1863 was £1,425. Besides the earldom of Dunbar, created in 1605 for George Home, of Manderstone, a viscountcy of Dunbar was created in 1620 in the family of Constable, and became dormant in 1721 on the decease of the fourth viscount. Dunbar sends a member to parliament along with Haddington, North Berwick, Lauder, and Jedburgh. Population of the parliamentary burgh in 1851, 3,038; in 1861, 3,511. Houses in 1851, 405; in 1861, 428. Children at school between the ages of five and fifteen in 1861, 582. The corn market is held every Tuesday, and there are fairs for hiring servants at Whitsunday and Martinmas."

"BELHAVEN, a village in the parish of Dunbar, in the county of Haddington, Scotland. It is pleasantly situated about 1 mile W. of the town of Dunbar, on a small bay of the same name, on the south coast of the Frith of Forth, at the mouth of Beil Water, and is frequented as a watering place. The Hamiltons, of Wishaw Castle, in Lanarkshire, take from Belhaven the title of baron."

"BELTONFORD, a village in the parish of Dunbar, and county of Haddington, Scotland, 2 miles from Dunbar. It is seated on Beltonford-Burn, and in the parish of Dunbar"

"DOWN-HILL, an eminence rising 580 feet above the sea, on the boundary of the parish of Dunbar, in the county of Haddington, Scotland. Here the Covenanters were encamped before their defeat by Cromwell, and that engagement is sometimes called the battle of Downhill to distinguish it from the battle of Dunbar, fought in the 13th century.

"EAST BARNS, a village in the parish of Dunbar, Haddingtonshire, Scotland, 3 miles S.E. of Dunbar

"EASTBARNS, a village in the parish of Dunbar, county Haddington, Scotland, 3 miles S.E. of Dunbarony

"WEST BARNS, a village in the parish of Dunbar, Haddingtonshire, Scotland, 2 miles W. of Dunbar, on the small stream called the Biel, which, near this, falls into Belhaven Bay.

"WESTBARNS, a hamlet in the parish of Dunbar, county Haddington, 2 miles W. of Dunbarony

[Description(s) from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868)
Transcribed by Colin Hinson ©2003]