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Dirleton

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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Dirleton, a village and a coast parish of N Haddingtonshire. The village stands, towards the middle of the parish, 23/8 miles WSW of North Berwick, and 1½ mile NW of Dirleton station, this being 2¾ miles NNE of Drem, under which Dirleton has a post office. One of the prettiest villages in Scotland, it chiefly consists of neat modern cottages, each with its plot of flowers and shrubs, arranged along two sides of a large triangular green, on whose third or south-eastern side the ivy-clad ruins of Dirleton Castle stand amidst gardens of singular beauty, their bowling-green adorned with grand old evergreen oaks. This seems to be the identical stronghold that in 1298 offered a stubborn though fruitless resistance to Anthony Beck, the fighting Bishop of Durham; its ruinous state is due in great measure to the ordnance of Monk and Lambert, who, in 1650, captured it from a garrison of mosstroopers, hanging their captain and two of his followers. The parish church, at the N end of the village, bears date 1661, and, altered and enlarged in 1825, contains 600 sittings. There are also a Free church, an inn, a library, and a public school. Pop. (1861) 354, (1871) 323, (1881) 403. The parish, containing also the villages of Gullane, Kingston, and Fenton, is bounded NW and N by the Firth of Forth (here 8¼ miles broad at the narrowest), E by North Berwick, and S by Athelstaneford and Aberlady. Its length, from E to W, varies between 27/8 and 5½ miles; its utmost breadth, from N to S, is 35/8 miles; and its area is 10,798¾ acres, of which 1620½ are foreshore and 2 water. The coast-line, 9 miles long, rises almost boldly to 100 feet above sea-level at Eldbottle Wood, but elsewhere is mostly fringed by the flat sandy East, West, and Gullane Links; to the W it is indented by Gullane and Aberlady Bays; and off it to the N lie the three islets, composed of greenstone rock, of Eyebroughy, Fidra, and Lamb. The sluggish Peffer Burn, tracing the southern boundary, is the only noteworthy rivulet; and inland the surface is very slightly undulated, its highest point (118 feet) occurring on the road to Drem, ¾ mile SSW of the village. The rocks are partly eruptive, partly carboniferous, and including dark-red jasper veins, excellent building sandstone, some coal, and considerable quantities of ironstone. The soil is extremely various- in one part a deep, stiff, alluvial clay, and near the coast stretches of the lightest sand, burrowed by hundreds of rabbits; whilst there is also much deep, free loam, the product of which in summer and autumn presents an appearance of almost unrivalled luxuriance. Fenton Barns, 1¾ mile N by E of Drem, is famous in agricultural annals as the home, till 1873, of George Hope, Esq. (1811-76), an interesting Life of whom, by his daughter, was published in 1881. Sir John Halyburton, slain at the battle of Nisbet in 1355, had wedded the daughter and co-heiress of William De Vaux, lord of Dirleton, and got with her that estate: his grandson, Sir Walter, Lord Treasurer of Scotland, founded a collegiate church at Dirleton in 1446, and six years earlier was created Lord Halyburton of Dirleton-a title forfeited in 1600 by John, third Earl of Gowrie and sixth Lord Ruthven and Dirleton, who won over Logan of Restalrig to his plot by the proffered bribe of the lands and castle of Dirleton. ` I care not,' wrote Logan, 'for all else I have in this kingdom, in case I get grip of Dirleton, for I esteem it the pleasantest dwelling in Scotland.' (See Perth and Fast Castle.) To-day the Earl of Mar and Kellie bears the title of Baron Dirleton and Viscount Fentoun, conferred in 1603 and 1606 on Sir Thomas Erskine, afterward Earl of Kellie, who with his own hand had slain the Earl of Gowrie; that of Earl of Dirleton was held, from 1646 till his death before 1653, by Sir James Maxwell, who seems, in 1631, to have bought the estate. In 1663 it was once more sold to Sir John Nisbet, who as Lord Advocate bore the title Lord Dirleton, and whose descendant, Lady Mary Nisbet-Hamilton, of Archerfield and Biel., owns two-thirds of the parish. Five other proprietors hold each an annual value of £500 and upwards, 4 of between £100 and £500,4 of from £50 to £100, and 11 of from £20 to £50. Dirleton is in the presbytery of Haddington and synod of Lothian and Tweeddale; the living is worth £509. Three public schools-Dirleton, Gullane, and Kingston-with respective accommodation for 145,81, and 123 children, had (1880) an average attendance of 100,34, and 56, and grants of £74, £16,14s., and £32,3s. Valuation (1882) £16,499,8s. Pop. (1801) 1115, (1831) 1384, (1861) 1540, (1871) 1419, (1881) 1506.—Ord. Sur., shs. 33,41,1863-57. See vol. ii. of Billings' Baronial and Ecclesiastical Antiquities (1852).

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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