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Dalkeith

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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Dalkeith, a town and a parish in the E of Edinburghshire. The town stands, 182 feet above sea-level, on a peninsula from 3 to 5 furlongs wide between the North and South Esks, and by road is 4¼ miles S by W of Musselburgh and 6 SE of Edinburgh, whilst, as terminus of a branch line 3¾ furlongs long, it is 83/8 miles SE of Edinburgh. It is also accessible from Eskbank station, 5 furlongs to the SW, on the main Waverley route of the North British, this being 81/8 miles SE of Edinburgh and 90¼ N by W of Carlisle. A low and flat-backed ridge, the peninsula slopes more steeply to the North than the South Esk; of the town's fair surroundings this picture is given in David Moir's Mansie Wauch:-'Pleasant Dalkeith ! with its bonny river, its gardens full of gooseberry bushes and pear-trees, its grass parks spotted with sheep, and its grand green woods.' The High Street widens north-eastward from 30 to 85 feet, and terminates at a gateway leading up to Dalkeith Palace, the principal seat of the Duke of Buccleuch, which palace, as centring round it all the chief episodes in Dalkeith's history, must here be treated of before Dalkeith itself.

The Anglo-Norman knight, William de Graham, a witness to the foundation charter of Holyrood Abbey (1128), received from David I. the manor of Dalkeith; his seventh descendant, John de Graham, dying without issue about the middle of the 14th century, left two sisters, his heiresses, of whom one, Marjory, conveyed Dalkeith by marriage to the Douglases. 'In my youth,' says Froissart, 'I, the author of this book, travelled all through Scotland, and was full fifteen days resident with William, Earl of Douglas, at his castle of Dalkeith. Earl James was then very young, but a promising youth,' etc. Doughty Earl James it was who, capturing Hotspur's trophy, cried out that he would set it high on the tower of his castle of Dalkeith-a taunt that led to the battle of Otterburn (1388). In 1452 the town was plundered and burned by the brother of the murdered sixth Earl of Douglas, but the castle held out gallantly under Patrick Cockburn, its governor; in 1458 James II. conferred on James Douglas of Dalkeith the title of Earl of Morton; and at the second Earl's castle James IV. first met his affianced Queen, the Princess Margaret of England, 3 Aug. 1503, when, ` having greeted her with knightly courtesy, and passed the day in her company, he returned to his bed at Edinburgh, very well content of so fair meeting. ' In 1543, Cardinal Beaton was committed prisoner to Dalkeith Castle, which in 1547 had to yield to the English victors of Pinkie after a valiant defence. James, fourth Earl of Morton, the cruel and grasping Regent, built at Dalkeith about 1575 a magnificent palace, richly adorned with tapestries and pictures, and fitter for king than subject--the ` Lion's Den ' the country people called it. Hither on Sunday, June 11,1581, just nine days after the Lion's head had fallen beneath the Maiden's axe, James VI. returned from the parish kirk with two pipers playing before him and with the Duke of Lennox, Morton's accuser and successor. The Modern Solomon revisited Dalkeith in 1617, when Archibald Symson, the parish minister, addressed to him a congratulatory poem, Philomela -Dalkethensis; and in 1633 Charles I. was here magnificently entertained. In the winter of 1637-38, following close on the Liturgy tumults, the Privy Council adjourned from Linlithgow to Dalkeith Palace, whither twelve out of the sixteen ` Tables, ' or commissioners, representing the supplicants of every estate, came to present their menacing protestation; and in the spring of 1639 these Tables made themselves masters of the palace. Within it, besides military stores, were found the regalia-crown, sceptre, and sword-which, with all reverence, were brought back by the nobles to Edinburgh Castle. Francis Scott, second Earl of Buccleuch, purchased Dalkeith from the ninth Earl of Morton in 1642. Dying in 1651, he left two daughters, Mary (1648-61) and Anne (1651-1732), who, successively Countesses of Buccleuch in their own right, married, at the early ages of 11 and 12, Walter Scott of Highchester and the ill-fated Duke of Monmouth, both of them lads of only 14 years. The Countess Mary's custodier was the celebrated General Monk, who as such had a five years' lease of Dalkeith (1654-59), and lived there quietly, busying himself with gardening, but ever regarded jealously by Cromwell. Her mother, who for third husband had taken the Earl of Wemyss, is described by Baillie as a witty, active woman, through whom Monk acted on the Scottish nobles, and through whom the Scottish nobles acted in turn on Monk; and that 'sly fellow' is said to have planned the Restoration in rooms, still extant, overhanging the Esk. Monmouth himself must often have been here; in 1663 he and his child spouse were created Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch and Earl and Countess of Dalkeith. The Duchess of the -Lay of the -Last Minstrel, she, after Monmouth's execution (1685), lived chiefly at Newark Castle in princely style, more rarely at Dalkeith Palace, which, as it stands to-day, was mainly built by her. Her grandson and successor, Francis, second Duke of Buccleuch (16951751), in whose time Prince Charles Edward passed two nights at Dalkeith (1 and 2 Nov. 1745), married the eldest daughter of James, second Duke of Queensberry; and their grandson Henry, third Duke (1746-1812), inherited the dukedom of Queensberry in 1810. With a younger brother, assassinated at Paris in 1766, he had made the grand tour under the tutelage of Adam Smith; and he did much to improve his tenantry and vast estates. To him Scott owed his appointment (1799) as sheriff-depute of Selkirkshire; and his son and successor, Charles William Henry (1772-1819), is also remembered as a kindly friend to both Sir Walter and the Ettrick Shepherd. His son, Walter-Francis Montagu-Douglas-Scott (b. 1806; suc. 1819), has entertained royalty twice, in the persons of George IV. (15-29 Aug. 1822) and Queen Victoria and Prince Albert (1-6 and 13-15 Sept. 1842). He is the fourth largest landowner in Scotland, holding 432,338 acres, valued at £187,156 per annum, viz., 3536 in Midlothian (£28,408, including £1479 for minerals and £10,601 for Granton harbour), 253,514 in Dumfriesshire (£97,530), 104,461 in Roxburghshire (£39,458), 60,428 in Selkirkshire (£19,828), 9091 in Lanarkshire (£1544), and 1308 in Fife, Kirkcudbright, and Peebles shires (£388). See Bowhill, Drumlanrig Castle, and Branxholm. Such are some of the memories of Dalkeith Palace, which, crowning a steep, rocky knoll above the North Esk's right bank, was mainly rebuilt by the Duchess of Monmouth in the early years of the 18th century. Her architect, Sir John Vanbrugh, better known for his plays than his buildings, chose as a model Loo Palace in the Netherlands; the result is a heavy-looking Grecian pile of reddish stone, with recessed centre and projecting wings. The interior, however, is rich in treasures of art-six family portraits by Gainsborough and Sir Joshua Reynolds, Wilkie's portrait of George IV., three landscapes by Clande, and other paintings by Holbein, Rembrandt, Annibal Caracci, Van Dyek, etc., with the furniture given to Monmouth by Charles II. The park, extending into Newton and Inveresk parishes, and ringed by a high stone wall, has a total area of 1035 acres, 130 of which are occupied by a remnant of the ancient Caledonian Forest. One kingly oak is 93 feet high, and girths 181/3 feet at 1 foot from the ground; whilst an ash and three beeches, with respective girth of 13¾, 17,16¾, and 14½ feet, are 95,110,103, and 95 feet high. Landscape gardening has done much to enhance the beauties due to an undulating surface and to the windings of the rivers Esk, which unite 7 furlongs below the palace; and the formality in the general disposition of the grounds and in the planting, that offended both Gilpin and Stoddart, is ever softening with the lapse of years. See William Fraser, The Scotts of Buccleuch (Edinb. 1878). Apart from castle and palace, Dalkeith has nothing more notable in its history than Mr Gladstone's electoral address of 20 March 1880. Connected with it by birth, education, or residence were the poet, John Rolland (flo. 1575); David Calderwood (1575-1650), ecclesiastical historian; Archibald Pitcairne (1652-1713), poet and physician; the judge, William Calderwood, Lord Polton (1661-1733); John Love (1695-1750), Buchanan's vindicator, and rector of the grammar school from 1739 till his death; Alexander Wedderburn, Lord Longborough and first Earl of Rosslyn (1733-1805), Lord High Chancellor of England; the historian, Principal William Robertson, D.D. (1721-93); Henry Dundas, Viscount Melville (1742-1811); John Kay, the caricaturist (17421826), for six years 'prentice to a Dalkeith barber; Ralph Wardlaw, D.D. (1779-1853), an eminent divine; Robert Mushet (1782-1828), of the Royal Mint; and Norman Macleod, D.D. (1812-72), who was minister from 1843 to 1851.

Nor, apart from its church, has the town much to show in the way of antiquities-a few old sculptured stones let into modern buildings, 'Cromwell's orderly house' in Chapelwell Close, and a fragment of a piscina in an old house near the palace gate. The market-cross has long since disappeared, but hiring fairs are held on the last Thursday of February, the first Thursday of April, and the second Thursday of October; horse and cattle fairs on the Thursday of May after Rutherglen and the third Tuesday of October, and corn markets on every Thursday in the year.* The Corn Exchange, built in 1855 at a cost of £3800 from designs by the late D. Cousin of Edinburgh, is a large hall, 172 by 50 feet, and 45 feet high, with open-timbered roof and a gable-front to the High Street, adorned by a panel bearing the Duke's arms. The Town-hall, a plain old building, stands also in the High Street; the Foresters' hall, in Buccleuch Street, measuring 80 by 45 feet, seats 800 persons, and was erected in 1877 at a cost of £4700; and the Combination poorhouse, for eleven parishes, at Gallowshall, accommodates 121 inmates, and was built at a cost of £4058 in 1849, being the first of such houses in Scotland. Dalkeith has besides a post office, with money order, savings' bank, insurance, and telegraph departments, branches of the Commercial (1810), the National (1825), the Royal(1836), and the Clydesdale Banks (1858), a National Security Savings' bank (1839), 20 insurance agencies, 6 chief inns, gas-works (1827), a working men's club. and institute (1867), a scientific association (1835), a science school (1870), an agricultural society (1836), Liberal and Conservative clubs (1879), a masonic hall, a town mission (1846), a Royal Infirmary auxiliary society (1841), a total abstinence society (1837), bowling, cricket, and curling clubs, two papers-the Thursday -Dalkeith Advertiser and the Saturday -Dalkeith Herald, etc. The streets are fairly well paved, but the drainage is very defective, as also was the water supply, till in 1878 an arrangement was made with the Edinburgh Water Company to bring in a fresh supply from the Moorfoot Hills, under their recent Extension Act, the works being carried out in 1879 at a cost of £6000. Ironfounding, brushmaking, and market-gardening are the leading industries.

The old or East Parish church is of unknown date; but Pope Sixtus' bull of 1475 refers to the collegiate establishment of St Nicholas of Dalkeith, consisting of a provost, 5 canons, and 5 prebends, as having been founded and endowed from ancient times.' Second Pointed in style, it consists of an aisled nave (78 x 53 feet), a choir (44 x 27) with trigonal apse, N and S transepts, and a western clock-tower and octagonal spire 85 feet high. The choir, however, which, with its canopied niches, is much more highly decorated than the rest of the fabric, has long been roofless, cut off from the nave by an unsightly wall; and forty years since nave and transepts were ` choked with galleries, rising tier above tier behind and around the pulpit-a curious example of Scotch vandalism. There was, however, something of the picturesque in the confused cramming of these "lofts" into every nook and corner, in the quaint shields, devices, and texts emblazoned in front of the seats allotted to different guilds. The weavers reminded the congregation of how life was passing "swiftly as the weaver's shuttle," and the hammermen of how the Word of God smote the rocky heart in pieces' (-Life of Norman Mcleod, 1876)- Now, as restored by the late David Bryce, R.S- A., in 1852, the church contains 760 sittings, and presents a goodly appearance, but for the lack of the choir, in which are two recumbent effigies, probably of James, first Earl of Morton, and his dame, as also the graves of the young Countess Mary and her sister, the Duchess of Monmouth. The West Church, on a commanding site above the North Esk, was erected in 1840 at the cost of the Duke of Buccleuch, and is a cruciform Early English structure, with 950 sittings, and a spire 167 feet high. King's Park U.P. church, also Early English in style, with 700 sittings and a spire of 140 feet, was built in 1869-70 at a cost of £3300; and Buccleuch Street U- P. church, a Lombardo-Venetian edifice, in 1879, at a cost of £8767. Other places of worship are Back Street U.P. church (436 sittings), a Free church, a Congregational church (300 sittings), Wesleyan, Baptist, and Evangelical Union chapels, St David's Roman Catholic church (1854; 500 sittings), and St Mary's Episcopal church (1845; 250 sittings). The last, situated just within the gateway of the ducal park, is a beautiful Early English building, comprising a nave with open roof, a chancel elaborately groined in stone, and a S vestry. Back Street public school, the new Burgh public school, and the Roman Catholic school, with respective accommodation for 204, 500, and 235 children, had (1880) an average attendance of 107,340, and 135, and grants of £94,15s., £239,10s., and £117,9s.

Under the successive holders of castle and palace, Dalkeith was for centuries a burgh of barony; on the abolition of hereditary jurisdictions, in 1747, the Duke claimed £4000 for the regality, and was allowed £3400. In terms of Acts passed between 1759 and 1825 twelve trustees were appointed, of whom the baron-bailie was always one; but in 1878 the General Police Act w as adopted after repeated rejection, and the town is now governed by a chief magistrate, 2 other magistrates, and 9 commissioners. Valuation (1882) £27,806. Pop. (1841) 4831, (1851) 5086, (1861) 5396, (1871) 6386,(1881) 6711. The parish, containing also the village of Lugton and the greater part of Whitehill village, is bounded NW by Newton, NE by Inveresk, E by Cranston, SE and S by Newbattle, and SW by Lasswade. Its utmost length, from E to W, is 35/8 miles; its utmost breadth, from N to S, is 1½ mile; and its area is 2345½ acres, of which 1½ are water. The North Esk winds 27/8 miles, mostly through the interior, but partly along the Lasswade and Newton borders, till, near the northern extremity of the parish, it is joined by the South Esk, which, entering from Newbattle, has a northerly course here of 2 miles. As the river Esk, their united waters flow on 1 furlong north-eastward along the Newton boundary; and, at the point where they pass into Inveresk, the surface declines to 100 feet above sea-level, thence rising gently south-south-westward and south-eastward to 182 feet at Dalkeith High Street, 300 at Longside, and 400 near Easter Cowden. The rocks belong to the coal-measures of the Carboniferous formation, and coal is largely worked, whilst an extensive bed of brick and tile clay occurs at Newfarm and near Gallowshall. The soil is generally a good deep loam, with subsoil of clay and gravel; and the rent of the land is high, particularly that occupied by gardens. The Duke of Buccleuch holds about seven-eighths of the entire parish, 2 other proprietors holding each an annual value of £500 and upwards, 31 of between £100 and £500,52 of from £50 to £100, and 1l3 of from £20 to £50. Part of Restalrig deanery till 1592, and now the seat of a presbytery in -the synod of Lothian and Tweeddale, Dalkeith is divided ecclesiastically into East and West parishes, the former a living worth £506. Two schools under the landward board, Dalkeith public and Whitehill colliery, with respective accommodation for 163 and 121 children, had (1880) an average attendance of 137 and 98, and grants of £128,9s. 6d. and £36,10s. Valuation (1860) £23,847; (1882) £34,868, plus £2154 for railways and waterworks. Pop. (1801) 3906, (1821) 5169, (1841) 5830, (1861) 7114, (1871) 7667, (1881) 7707.—Ord. Sur., sh. 32,1857.

The presbytery of Dalkeith, established in 1581, comprises the ancient parishes of Borthwick, Carrington, Cockpen, Cranston, Crichton, Dalkeith, Fala and Soutra, Glencorse, Heriot, Inveresk, Lasswade, Newbattle, Newton, Ormiston, Penicuik, and Temple; the quoad sacra parishes of West Dalkeith, North Esk, Rosewell, Roslin, and Stobhill; and the chapelry of New Craighall. Pop. (1871) 45,099, (1881) 50,932, of whom 8990 were communicants of the Church of Scotland in 1878.-The Free Church also has a presbytery of Dalkeith, comprising the churches of Carlops, Cockenzie, Cockpen, Dalkeith, Gorebridge, Loanhead, Musselburgh, Ormiston, Penicuik, Roslin, and Temple, which together had 2688 members in 1881.

* The weekly corn market was changed from Sunday (on which it had been held 'past memory of man' ) to Thursday by an Act of the Scottish Parliament of 1581, which also appointed the yearly October fair.

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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