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Parish of Athelstaneford

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: Athelstaneford
1834-45: Athelstaneford

Athelstaneford, a village and a parish of N central Haddingtonshire. The village is 3 miles NNE of Haddington, and has a post office under Drem, another post office hamlet in this parish, 2½ miles to the NNW, with money order, savings' bank, and telegraph departments, and with the junction of the North Berwick branch of the North British railway. The name -A thelstaneford is supposed to commemorate a victory of Hungus or Angus mac Fergus, King of the Picts (731-761), and founder of St Andrews, over one Athelstane, ` dux ' or commander of Eadbert, King of Northumbria (Skene, Celt. Scot., i. 299).

The parish is bounded N by Dirleton and North Berwick, NE, E, and SE by Prestonkirk, and S and W by Haddington. Its greatest length from E to W is 4½ miles; its greatest breadth is only 2½ miles; and its area is 5080¼ acres, of which 16½ lie detached, and 3½ are water. The surface rises in the W to over 400 feet above sea-level; consists mainly of a broad-based ridge, extending E and W between the two Peffer Burns, which run westward and eastward along the northern and southern borders; and, excepting some 40 acres of hill pasturage and about 210 under wood, is all arable. The rocks are chiefly different kinds of trap, overlying, or thought to overlie, the coal measures. The former have been quarried, and some beautiful specimens of rock crystal found; but various searches for coal have had little or no success. The parish, till 1658, comprised not more than 1000 acres, and all belonged to the Earl of Wintoun, whose seat of Garlton is now a complete ruin; but then it was enlarged by annexations from Prestonkirk and Haddington. At present 7 proprietors hold each an annual value of £500 and upwards, 1 holds between £100 and £500,1 between £50 and £100; but the only large mansion is Gilmerton House, which, with about one-third of the entire parish, belongs to Sir Alexander Kinloch, tenth holder (since 1879) of a baronetcy created in 1686. Illustrious natives were Thomas Gwilliam, provincial of the Dominicans of Scotland, and ` the first man from whome Mr Knox receaved anie taste of the truthe; ' Sir John Hepburn (1598-1636), field-marshal of France in the Thirty Years War; and Robert Blair of Avontoun (1741-1811), Lord President of the Court of Session. The last was son of the author of the Grave, who was minister of Athelstaneford from 1731 to 1746, and whose successor, John Home (1746-57), here wrote his tragedy of Douglas. This parish is in the presbytery of Haddington and synod of Lothian and Tweeddale; the living is worth £320, with glebe. There are some remains of the church that Ada, Countess of Northumberland, built about 1178, and granted to her Cistercian nunnery of Haddington. A new parish church of 1780 gave place in 1868 to the present building (500 sittings; cost, over £1500). A public school, with accommodation for 160 children, had (1879) an average attendance of 88, and a grant of £85,9s. Valuation (1881) £11,723,11s. Pop. (1831) 931, (1861) 902, (1871) 844, (1881) 762.—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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