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Parish of Gladsmuir

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: Gladsmuir
1834-45: Gladsmuir

Gladsmuir a village and a parish in the W of Haddingtonshire. The village stands 355 feet above sea-level, near the eastern verge of the parish, 2½ miles SSE of Longniddry station, 4 W by S of Haddington, and 3½ E of Tranent, under which it has a post office. Crowning the ridge between Haddington and Tranent, it commands a superb panoramic view of the Lothians, the Firth of Forth, and the southern shore of Fife. The parish, constituted in 1692 out of portions of Haddington, Tranent, and Aberlady, contains also the villages of Longniddry, Samuelston, and Penston. It is bounded NW by the Firth of Forth, N by Aberlady, E by Haddington, S by Pencaitland, and W by Tranent. Its utmost length, from N to S, is 4¼. miles; its utmost breadth is 4 miles; and its area is 7165¼. acres, of which 120½ are foreshore. A small burn, running to the Firth, traces much of the Aberlady border; another traces for 1½¾ mile the boundary with Tranent; two others rise in and traverse the interior; and the river Tyne winds 1¾ mile east-north-eastward along the Haddington border. The coast-line, 1 mile long, is low but rocky; and from it the surface rises gently to 371 feet at Penston and 400 at the south-western corner of the parish, whilst sinking again south-eastward to 190 feet along the Tyne. So much of the area was in a marshy condition as to look almost like a continuous fen, but now has been so thoroughly reclaimed as to be everywhere in a state of high cultivation. The ridgy tract, too, was for ages an open moor, but that likewise has been well reclaimed. The rocks belong chiefly to the Carboniferous formation, but are intersected, from E to W, by a remarkable trap dyke, which has been largely quarried for road metal; as also for building has abundant sandstone. Limestone and ironstone have been worked; and coal abounds of excellent quality, occurring in some places in seams from 4 to 5 feet thick. It seems, in the vicinity of Penston, to have been mined for upwards of five centuries. Fireclay also is plentiful. The soil is sandy on the immediate seaboard, a fertile loam towards Longniddry, clayey in the middle tract, and loamy along the Tyne. About 200 acres are under wood; nearly 1200 are in pasture; and all the rest of the land is either regularly or occasionally in tillage. The mansion of the Douglases of Longniddry, who acted a distinguished part in the Reformation, and invited John Knox to their home when he was driven away from St Andrews, is now represented by only a low round mound. A ruined chapel, called John Knox's Kirk because the great Reformer sometimes preached in it, stands a little E of Longniddry village. A church was built, in 1650, at Thrieplaw, near the boundary with Pencaitland, but, on the constituting of the parish, fell into disuse, and has utterly disappeared. William Robertson, D.D. (1721-93), who became Principal of Edinburgh University, was minister of Gladsmuir from 1743 to 1758, and wrote here the greater part of his History of Scotland; and George Heriot (1563-1624), the founder of the hospital that bears his name in Edinburgh, was the son of a native of Gladsmuir, and himself has been claimed as a native. Under Prestonpans is noticed the battle, sometimes called of Gladsmuir. Elvingston is the chief mansion; and 7 proprietors hold each an annual value of £500 and upwards, 3 of between £100 and £500, and 2 of from £20 to £50. Gladsmuir is in the presbytery of Haddington and synod of Lothian and Tweeddale; the living is worth £514. The parish church, at the village, is a handsome edifice of 1850, successor to one of 1695, and contains 750 sittings. Four schools Gladsmuir, Gladsmuir Iron-works, Longniddry, and Samuelston----with respective accommodation for 113, 124, 144, and 65 children, had (1881) an average attendance of 62, 86, 73, and 26, and grants of £39, 19s., £65, 15s., £54, 10s., and £30, 13s. Valuation (1879) £18, 648, 6s., (1883) £16,250, 18s. Pop. (1801) 1460, (1831) 1658, (1861) 1915, (1871) 1863, (1881) 1747-a decrease due to the stoppage of ironstone smelting.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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