"GLADSMUIR, a parish, containing the post-office villages of Gladsmuir, Longniddry, and Samuelston, also the village of Penston, in Haddingtonshire. It is bounded by the frith of Forth, and by the parishes of Aberlady, Haddington, Salton, Pencaitland, and Tranent. Its length southward is fully five miles; its breadth is 4 miles; and its area is about 10 square miles ... The village of Gladsmuir, or Kirktown, stands on the eastern verge of the parish, on the highest point of the ridge between Tranent and Haddington, 4 miles west by south of the latter. The culmination of the ground here, about 350 feet above sea-level, commands a superb panoramic view of the Forth, Fifeshire, and the Lothians, and is remarkable for thunder storms, one of which in 1789, burst upon the schoolhouse, and killed two of the children ... Population in 1831, 1,658; in 1861, 1,945." [From the Imperial Gazetteer of Scotland, edited by John Marius Wilson, 1868]
A lengthier description is available.



The Scottish Genealogy Society holds a list of gravestones in this parish (118 in total) in its library in Edinburgh. Similar lists may be available elsewhere, for example in the East Lothian District Library's Local History Centre at Newton Port in Haddington.


Church History

The following quotation comes from the Imperial Gazetteer of Scotland, edited by John Marius Wilson and published in 1868. This reference was found in volume I, page 728:

"The parish church was recently rebuilt in a very handsome style, and contains 750 sittings ... Gladsmuir parish was formed, in 1695, by abstractions from the neighbouring parishes of Haddington, Aberlady, and Tranent. A church built, in 1650, at Thrieplaw near the southern verge of the parish, was abandoned on the erection of the parish, and has entirely disappeared. Another church, the predecessor of the present, was built in 1695 at the village of Gladsmuir. The ruins of an old chapel, called John Knox's kirk, because the great reformer occasionally preached in it, stand a little east of the village of Longniddry."

Photos of the churches are available.


Church Records

The parish church (Church of Scotland) has registers dating from 1688. Old Parish Registers (before 1855) are held in the General Register Office for Scotland in Edinburgh, and copies on microfilm may be consulted in local libraries and in LDS Family History Centres around the world. Later parish registers (after 1855) are often held in the Scottish Record Office as are any records of non-conformist churches in the area (often unfilmed and unindexed, and only available there).

In his entry for the Statistical Account of Scotland (compiled 1790s, see the Statistics section of the East Lothian page for more details) the Rev. George Hamilton made the following comment about deficiencies in the registration of births in the parish of Gladsmuir in the late 18th century:

"The baptism roll, at an average for the last 30 years, gives only 47 each year, which would denote a population considerably inferior to that which is here given; but many who attend the church are careless about enrolling their childrens names; and Seceders often do not enroll at all in the parish register."

Civil Registration

Registration of Births, Marriages and Deaths began in Scotland on 1st January 1855. For details of these and other records held at the General Register Office in Edinburgh, see the GRO tutorial.


Description & Travel

You can see pictures of Gladsmuir which are provided by:



Extracts for this parish from the 1868 National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland are available.



This map shows the location of the parish in the county.

You can see maps centred on OS grid reference NT459736 (Lat/Lon: 55.952506, -2.868034), Gladsmuir which are provided by:



Here are some figures showing the parish's population through time:



For a social and economic record of the parishes of East Lothian together with considerable statistical material, see Sir John Sinclair's Statistical Account of Scotland, which was compiled in the 1790s. Follow-up works to this were the New Statistical Account (also known as the Second Statistical Account) which was prepared in the 1830s and 1840s; and more recently the Third Statistical Account which has been prepared since the Second World War.

Thanks to a joint venture between the Universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh the First and Second Statistical Accounts can now be accessed on-line at The Statistical Accounts of Scotland, 1791-1799 and 1845.