"PRESTONPANS, a small parish on the west coast of Haddingtonshire. It contains the post-town of Prestonpans, the villages of Dolphinston and Preston, and the harbour of Morison's haven. It is bounded by Edinburghshire, the frith of Forth, and the parish of Tranent ... Population in 1831, 2,322; in 1861, 2,080." "The TOWN of PRESTONPANS is a burgh of barony. It stands along the shore of the frith of Forth, on the Edinburgh and North Berwick road, 2 1/2 miles east of Musselburgh, 9 east of Edinburgh, 9 3/4 west of Haddington, and 14 south-west of North Berwick. It is supposed to have become a seat of population for the manufacturing of salt, so early as the 12th century. The monks of Newbattle, who pushed out their trading enterprises in all directions from their property of Preston-grange, appear to have adopted and cherished Prestonpans as the scene of their salt-making operations." From the Imperial Gazetteer of Scotland, edited by John Marius Wilson, 1868]
A lengthier description is available.



See "Prestonpans and vicinity: historical, ecclesiastical, and traditional" by Peter McNeill, published at Edinburgh in 1902 (261 pages).


Church History

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. John Trotter recorded religious habits in the 1790s:

"The great body of the people adhere to the established church. About a twentieth part of the whole number are seceders, of whom nearly two-thirds are of the Burgher persuasion. There are 10 or 12 Episcopalians."

Church Records

The parish church (Church of Scotland) has registers dating from 1596. 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).


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 Prestonpans 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.

The Scottish Record Office holds the following as part of its collection of maps and plans:

  • circa 1780: Plan of part of Prestonpans High Street showing buildings with owners' names. Scale 1:360. Size 33x30cm. Grid (map) reference NT3874. SRO reference RHP.626
  • circa 1790: Engraved plan showing village of Preston, Preston House, quarries and roads. Scale 1:3400. Size 33x25cm. Grid (map) reference NT3974. SRO reference RHP.758

You can see maps centred on OS grid reference NT382734 (Lat/Lon: 55.949827, -2.990808), Prestonpans 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.