- WHITTINGHAM, a parish, in the county of Haddington, 3 miles (S. by E.) from Prestonkirk; containing 700 inhabitants, of whom 42 are in the village. This place, which is supposed to have derived its name, signifying in the Saxon language "the Town of the White Meadow," from the colour of the soil, is of very considerable antiquity. It was in the 14th century the baronial residence of the earls of March, who held their courts here, and whose descendant, Patrick, in 1363 granted to Sir Alexander de Ricklington one-half of the lands of Spot, forming part of their barony. In 1372 George, Earl of March, gave in marriage with his sister, Agnes, to James Douglas of Dalkeith, the whole of the manor of Whittingham, with the patronage of the chapel; and it remained in the possession of that family for nearly two centuries. In 1564, Mary, Queen of Scots, conferred the manor and castle, the patronage of the church, and all its appurtenances, on James, Earl of Morton, the representative of the Douglas family, which grant was ratified by the Scottish parliament in 1567. Soon after receiving these lands, he was banished from his country for the part he had taken in the murder of David Rizzio, and took refuge in England; but having obtained his pardon from the queen, he returned to Scotland, and was restored to his possessions. The earl had not, however, been long returned before he again conspired against the laws; and entertaining the Earl of Bothwell at his castle of Whittingham, he concerted with that nobleman the murder of Darnley, the queen's consort, for which he was tried at Edinburgh, found guilty, and executed, having the night previous to his execution amply confessed his guilt. The manor, together with the other portions of the earldom which had been forfeited by the attainder and execution of the earl, was however restored to the family by James VI., and remained in their possession till, by marriage of the daughter of Sir Archibald Douglas, who succeeded her father as heiress of Whittingham, the manor was conveyed to Lord Seton, of Kingstone. Ultimately, on the death of her brothers, the title becoming extinct, the property was vested in the Lady Elizabeth Seton, who married the Honourable William Hay, of Drummelzier, by whose descendants the estate was in 1817 sold to James Balfour, Esq., whose son, James M. Balfour, Esq., succeeded him in April, 1845.The parish is about eleven miles in length from north to south, and about four miles in average breadth; and comprises 20,675 acres, of which 3958 are arable, 215 woodland and plantations, and the remainder pasture and waste. The surface is varied and irregular, abruptly undulated, and rising into hills of considerable elevation. The highest is Stoneypath hill, having near its summit the remains of an ancient castle which forms a conspicuous feature in the landscape, and commanding a rich and extensive prospect, embracing part of the German Sea, the island of May, the Bass rock, the Frith of Forth, the coast of Fife, and a large portion of East and Mid Lothian. The lands are watered by two fine streams. That called the Whittingham water has its source in the parish of Garvald, and after being augmented by the Nunraw burn, flows through a beautiful and romantic glen, between banks, of which the acclivities are embellished with stately trees; it falls into the sea at Belhaven. The Whiteadder has its source also in the parish of Garvald, and after receiving some tributary streams in its course, joins the Tweed within a few miles of Berwick. There are likewise numerous springs of excellent water, affording an abundant supply.The soil is various; in some parts light and sandy, in others a sterile clay, and in some a rich and fertile loam: the higher division of the parish comprises part of the Lammermoor hills, in some places arable, but generally furnishing only pasturage. The crops are, wheat, barley, oats, potatoes, and turnips. The system of husbandry is improved, and the lands are well inclosed; the fences on some farms are thorn hedges, and on others dykes of stone, both kept in good condition. The farm-buildings are substantial and commodious, and all the recent improvements in the implements of husbandry have been adopted. The farms on the higher lands, among the Lammermoor hills, are very extensive; and though on some of them, as already observed, part of the lands are arable, they are generally grazing land. About 6000 sheep are fed, which produce on an average between 800 and 900 stone of wool annually; and a few black-cattle are also reared. The woods and plantations are chiefly around the mansion of the principal proprietor, and on the sloping banks of the Whittingham water. The substrata are mostly transition rocks and greywacke, of which the Lammermoor hills are composed, with some granite found in masses, and red freestone of excellent quality, which has been extensively quarried for building and other purposes. Iron and copper ores, also, have been met with on the banks of a stream in the Lammermoor district. Whittingham House is a handsome and spacious mansion in the Grecian style of architecture, pleasantly situated on the bank of Whittingham water, and commanding an extensive view of the surrounding country and of the sea; the grounds are formed into walks and gardens tastefully laid out, and the approaches to the demesne are remarkably fine, consisting of avenues of stately timber. The village is on an eminence having an elevation of about 360 feet above the level of the sea. It is small, but neatly built, and possesses facility of communication with Haddington and Dunbar, the nearest market-towns, by good roads, and also with the other parts of the parish by roads kept in excellent order by statute labour, and which traverse more than thirty miles in various directions within its limits. The rateable annual value of the parish is returned at the sum of £7339.The district anciently consisted of the two chapelries of Penshiel and Whittingham, both subordinate to the church of Dunbar; the former was appropriated to the Lammermoors, and the latter to the lower district of the parish, and each constituted the head of a prebend in the church of Dunbar when it was made collegiate in the year 1342. The present parish is in the presbytery of Dunbar, synod of Lothian and Tweeddale, and patronage of Mr. Balfour: the minister's stipend is £266. 12. 1., with a manse, and the glebe is valued at £18 per annum. The church, situated on the north bank of the Whittingham water, was built in 1722, and was put into complete repair in 1820; it is a small edifice adapted only for a congregation of 350 persons, and is at an inconvenient distance from the extreme parts of the parish. The parochial school affords a liberal education to about seventy-five scholars; the master has a salary of £34. 4. 4., with £30 fees, and a house and garden. At Prieslaw, in the southern portion of the parish, are the remains of an encampment, of an oval form, and nearly 700 yards in circumference; it is defended by three ditches on the north side, and by four on the south. These ditches are separated from each other by intervals of about twelve yards, and the outer one is continued round the whole area. There are some remains of the ancient castle of Whittingham, part of which is in good preservation, and still inhabited; and also of Stoneypath Tower, which was the property of James Douglas, first lord Dalkeith: it appears to have been strongly fortified, and great part of the lofty walls are yet left. Some slight remains exist of the old baronial mansion of Penshiel, and of the ancient chapel, which was situated in a glen, near the house now called "Chapel Haugh." At Papple, also, about twenty feet of one of the walls of a religious house are still remaining; but nothing is known either of its original foundation or of its history.
A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. Samuel Lewis. 1856.
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