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Gifford

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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Gifford, a village in the N of Yester parish, Haddingtonshire, lying, 340 feet above sea-level, on the right bank of Gifford Water, 4¼ miles SSE of Haddington. Set in a wooded vale, and sheltered by well cultivated hills, it is a pretty little place, its two streets of unequal length consisting chiefly of neat two-story houses, and one of them ending in the fine long avenue that leads up to Yester House. It has a post office under Haddington, with money order, savings' bank, and telegraph departments, an inn, two public schools, and fairs on tho last Tuesday of March, the third Tuesday of June, and the first Tuesday of October-this last having still some importance. Here, too, are Yester parish church (1708; 560 sittings) and a handsome new Free church (1880; 310 sittings). The latter occupies a prominent position on the rising-ground above the village, and. built at a cost of £1700 in the Gothic style of the 14th century, has a NE tower and spire. Gifford has claimed to be the birthplace of John Knox, the great Reformer. Beza in his Icones (1580) calls him 'Giffordiensis;' and Spottiswood states in his History (1627) that Knox 'was born at Gifford in the Lothians.' But two contemporary Catholic writers, Archibald Hamilton (1577) and James Laing (1581), assign to Haddington the honour in question; and recent investigation has proved, moreover, that no village of Gifford was in existence until the latter half of the 17th century. So that the late David Laing, who in 1846 had followed Knox's biographer, Dr Thomas M'Crie, in preferring Gifford, reversed his verdict in 1864 in favour of the Giffordgate, a suburb of Haddington (article 'Knox' by the Rev. C. G. M'Crie, in Encycl. Britanniea, 9th ed., vol. xiv., 1882). Two lesser divines at least were natives-James Craig (1682-1744) and John Witherspoon, D.D. (172294), the president of Princetown College, New Jersey. Though the village thus is hardly two centuries old, it derived its name from the Giffords, who under William the Lyon (1165-1214) added Yestred or Yester to their Lothian possessions, and after whom the parish itself is Often' though not legally, called Gifford. Their male line failed with one Sir Hugh in 1409, but his daughter wedded an ancestor of the Marquis of Tweeddale, the present superior of Gifford. Pop. (1861) 458, (1871) 455, (1881) 382.—Ord. Sur., sh. 33, l863.

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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