The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland - 1868

Description from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868)

"HADDINGTON, (or East Lothian), a maritime county, commonly called East Lothian, in the S.E. of Scotland. It is bounded on the W. and N.E. by the German Ocean, on the N. and N.W. by the Firth of Forth, on the S. and S.E. by county Berwick and the Lammermuir hills, and on the S.W. by county Edinburgh. It extends between 55° 47' and 56° 5' N. lat., and 2° 22' and 3° 1' W. long. Its greatest length from E. to W. is near 26 miles, and its greatest breadth 17. Its area is computed at 272 square miles, or 174,080 acres, of which about 35,000 acres are waste land, and 6,000 are plantation. It has a low rocky coast of about 35 miles, the principal places along which are Dunbar, Haddington, Preston Pans, North Berwick, Aberlady Bay, near the embouchure of the river Peffer into the Forth, Belhaven Bay, Whitberry Head, Ravensheugh Craig, and Tantallon Castle; the islands of Scarr, Craigleith Lamb, Fidra, and the Bass Rock. East Lothian was the ancient territory of the Ottadini, who remained in undisputed possession until about a century after the departure of the Romans, when the Saxons from Northumbria, having made a descent, conquered the territory and annexed it to their kingdom. In 1020, it was wrested from its new masters by the Scots, and in the time of David I. and Malcolm IV., Haddington became a favourite royal retreat. In 1216 King John ravaged the county; and in 1296 the memorable siege of Dunbar took place. Two years later Dirleton became the, scene of a severe contest between Wallace and Edward I. From this period to nearly the middle of the 15th century, the county of Haddington was the scene of continual warfare. In 1544 the Earl Somerset entered the county, destroyed Seaton Castle, and sacked and burned the towns of Haddington and Dunbar. Three years later the Protector and Lord Grey wasted and ruined the county throughout, and it was subject to the English till 1590, when a treaty was signed. In 1653 Cromwell overran and became complete master of the whole county. The final historical event in connection with Haddington, was the battle of Preston, in which Prince Charles, in 1745, obtained his victory over Cope. This county contains 24 parishes and two quoad sacra parishes, composing the presbytories of Haddington and Dunbar. The royal and parliamentary boroughs are Haddington, the county town, Dunbar, and North Berwick. The number of Free Church congregations is 14, and there are 9 Presbyterian dissenting bodies of different denominations, and one Episcopal chapel. The number of inhabited houses in 1851 was 6,444, and the population in that year 36,386. In 1861 the houses were 6,841, and the population 37,623. It sends one member to parliament for the county, exclusive of Jedburgh and Lauder, which join with the above boroughs in sending another. The government of the county is confided to a lord-lieutenant, vice lieutenant, and 35 deputy-lieutenants, a sheriff, and sheriff's substitute. There are 11 police districts in the county, having stations at Haddington, Athelstaneford, North Berwick, Dirleton, Linton, Tynningham, Stenton, Dunbar, Gifford, Garvald, East Salton, Pencaitland, Tranent, Ormiston, Gladsmuir, Preston Pans, Oldhamstocks, Aberlady, Gulane, and Humbie. Geographically the county is divided into the highland and lowland districts, the former being the southern division, including the spurs of the Lammermuir hills; the latter the northern, where the surface gradually slops towards the shores of the Forth. Sparleton Hill, North Berwick Law, and Trapraine Law, are among the chief elevations. The Tyne, though but a small stream, is the principal "water." It issues from Mid-Lothian, and, entering the county in the W., receives the Armot, Salton, and Gifford waters, and falls into the sea near Tynningham House. The other streams worthy of notice are the Calstone, Biel, Whitewater, Fastna, and the Peffer. The Danskine and Presmennan lochs are the only lochs of any size; the latter is an artificial shut of water. There are medicinal springs in the parishes of Spott, Pencaitland, and Humbie. The principal geological formations are the Old Red sandstone and carboniferous limestone, with granular quartz, mostly resting upon transition rocks. Graywacke enters largely into the composition of the Lammermuir hills, and a class of clinkstone is met with at the Garleton Hills; also, red trap at Dunbar harbour, and basalt and hornblende at Whiberry Head and Ravensheugh Craig. The coal-fields in the western part of the county belong to the great central coal-fields of Scotland. The surface also affords a supply of fire-clay, shale, ironstone, sandstone, and potter's clay. Like most hilly countries, the climate of Haddington is very variable. Snow and piercing winds often retard the crops of the highlands for three weeks, or even a month, behind the vegetation of the lowlands. The soil near the coast is a red loam, which is extremely productive, but in the hilly districts the land becomes moorish, interspersed with rich valleys. The district of the Tyne valley is one of the most prolific spots in the East Lothians. It has been so from a very early period, but was held in a state of villanage till even modern times. Foremost among the cultivators of the land were the monks, who, as early as the 13th century, were very skilful in the management of extensive orchards. Wheat, beans, turnips, and parsnips, constitute the principal crops. In the hilly districts the breeding of cattle occupies the principal attention of the farmer. The favourite breeds are the Leicester and Cheviot sheep, and the short-horned Teeswater cattle. The farmers are intelligent, adopting modern improvements, and paying so much attention to drainage; &c., that the system of farming pursued in the East Lothians has become celebrated throughout Europe. The farms average from 200 to 600 acres in extent, and are rented on leases varying from 19 to 21 years. The fisheries of the county have degenerated of late, and occupy but a very trifling proportion of the inhabitants, the great business of the county being agriculture. The coal-fields and quarries give employment to a few, and there are potteries at Preston Pans, where salt was formerly worked. There are numerous handsome residences throughout the county. Among them may be mentioned Yester House, of the Marquis of Tweeddale; Coalston, of the Marquis of Dalhousie; Tynningham, of the Earl of Haddington; Dunbar, of the Earl of Lauderdale; Gosford, of the Earl of Wemyss; Hermanston, of Lord Sinclair; Smeaton, of Hepburn, Bart.; Newbyth, of Baird, Bart.; North Berwick House, of Hew Dalrymple, Bart.; Kilmorton, of Kinloch, Bart.; Fountain Hall, of Lauder, Bart.; Stevenson, of Sinclair, Bart.; Lochend, of Warrender, Bart.; Dunglass, of Hall; Bart.; besides Clerkington, Biel, Whittinghame, Preston Hall, Salton, Belton, Spott, Lethington, Winton Hall, Dummore, Northfield, Thurston House, and several others. Basil Hall was born at Dunglass, Alexander II. at Haddington, Fletcher at Salton. Lethington was the birth-place of Secretary Maitland, and Preston Kirk of Rennie, the engineer. Till very recently few countries were so badly off for roads as Haddington; and in 1848 it had but one savings-bank. There are now roads from Tranent to Gladsmuir, Haddington, Linton, Dunbar, Cockburnside, and Berwick; from Tranent to Preston Pans, Aberlady, Dirleton, North Berwick, and also from the same point to Pencaitland, Gifford, Dunse by Sayr's Law, and thence to Berwick. The North British railway enters the county near Fallside, and, passing by Tranent and Preston Pans, takes a N.E. direction. It sends off branches to Haddington and North Berwick. The remains of antiquity are numerous and interesting, comprising British, Roman, Danish, Saxon, and Norman works; as encampments and tumuli at Garrald, Bolton, Carfrae, Innerwick, Inveresk, Ormiston, Whittingham, and Humbie; feudal castles, as Innerwick of the Hamiltons, Tantallon of the Douglases, Yester of the Giffards, Dunglass of the Homes, Dirleton of the Halyburtons, Dunbar of the earls of March, Wintoun of the Setons; also Dolphington, Elphington, and the Bass; a priory at North Berwick, and a nunnery at Garrald.

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

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