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Parish of Aberlady

A historical perspective, drawn from the Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland: A Survey of Scottish Topography, Statistical, Biographical and Historical, edited by Francis H. Groome and originally published in parts by Thomas C. Jack, Grange Publishing Works, Edinburgh between 1882 and 1885.

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1791-99: Aberlady
1834-45: Aberlady

Aberlady (anc. Aberlefdi = Gael. abhir-liobh-aite, 'confluence of the smooth place'), a village and a coast parish of NW Haddingtonshire. The village stands at the mouth of the sluggish Peffer Burn, 3 miles NE of Longniddry station, and 5¼ NW of Haddington. Consisting chiefly of one long street of good appearance, it is an occasional resort of sea-bathers from Haddington: has a post office under Longniddry, with money order and savings' bank departments, an hotel, and some good shops: is lighted with gas: and, in 1871, had a population of 477. The parish is bounded N by Dirleton, E and SE by Haddington, S by Gladsmuir, and W by the Firth of Forth. It has an equal extreme length and breadth of 3½ miles: its area is 4928 acres, of which 21½ are links, 581 foreshore, and 6 water. The surface rises very slowly from the shore, nowhere much exceeds 200 feet of elevation, and is mostly flat, yet has a pleasant aspect, abounding in artificial adornment, and commanding views of the Firth and its shores away to the Lomond hills, the Edinburgh heights, the Pentlands, and the Grampians. The coast is everywhere low, and has a great breadth of foreshore. Vessels of 60 or 70 tons can ascend the channel of the Peffer, at spring tides, to within a few hundred yards of the village, and lie tolerably secure: but they cannot easily go out during a westerly wind. The harbour or anchorage-ground belongs to Haddington, in capacity of a port: but it is practically of little or no value, as the trade is trivial. A belt of links, or low flat sandy downs, skirts much of the shore, and is tunnelled by rabbit-holes: the land thence inward, though now well cultivated and productive, appears to have been, at no very distant period, swampy and worthless. The soil there is light and sandy: further back is clay, not naturally fertile: and further inland to the eastern border, is of excellent quality. The Peffer is the only stream of any size: and water for the use of the inhabitants is chiefly obtained from wells, being good and abundant. The rocks are partly eruptive, but mainly of the Carboniferous formation. Limestone and sandstone abound, but are not worked: and coal, in connection with the great coalfield of Midlothian, is believed to extend under a considerable area, but not in conditions likely to compensate mining. Kilspindley fortalice, built in 1585 between the village and the shore, has wholly disappeared, as have two ancient hospitals at Ballencrieff and Gosford. The Red Friar Monastery of Luffness, said to have been founded by Patrick, Earl of Dunbar, in 1286, is represented by the founder's effigy, and by the N walls of its First Pointed church, which measured 94 feet 10 inches by 19 feet: and Redhouse Castle, a large 16th-century mansion, near the Gladsmuir boundary, is now a complete ruin. Gosford (Earl of Wemyss), Ballencrieff (Lord Elibank), and Luffness (H. W. Hope, Esq.), are the principal seats: the property is divided among 3 landowners holding £500 and upwards, 1 between £100 and £500,1 between £50 and £100, and 17 between £20 and £50. The Rev. Adam Dickson (d. 1776), author of The Husbandry of the Ancients, was a native of this parish, which is in the presbytery of Haddington and synod of Lothian. Its church (1773) contains 525 sittings: the living is worth £503. There is also a U.P. church: and a public school here, with accommodation for 170 children, had (1879) an average attendance of 112, and a grant of £107,11s. Valuation (1881) £11,270,9s. Pop. (1831) 973, (1861) 1019, (1871) 1022, (1881) 1000.—Ord. Sur., sh. 33,1863.

An accompanying 19th C. Ordnance Survey map is available, or use the map tab to the right of this page.

Note: This text has been made available using a process of scanning and optical character recognition. Despite manual checking, some typographical errors may remain. Please remember this description dates from the 1880s; names may have changed, administrative divisions will certainly be different and there are known to be occasional errors of fact in the original text, which we have not corrected because we wish to maintain its integrity. This information is provided subject to our standard disclaimer

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