- PENCAITLAND, a parish, in the county of Haddington, including the hamlet of Nisbet, and containing 1127 inhabitants, of whom 48 are in the village of Easter Pencaitland, and 171 in Wester Pencaitland, 4 miles (S. E.) from Tranent. This place, which derives its name, properly Pencaithlan, from its situation at the head of a narrow valley watered by the river Tyne, is of very ancient date, and appears to have been granted by William the Lion to Everard de Pencaithlan, who gave the church, with the tithes and other property belonging to it, to the monks of Kelso, in whose possession it remained till a short time prior to the accession of Robert Bruce. The manor subsequently became the property of a younger branch of the Maxwell family, who granted the advowson and tithes to the monks of Dryburgh, who held them until the Reformation. The parish is about four miles in length from east to west, and about three miles in breadth; it is in the most westerly part of the county, and is bounded on the north by the parish of Gladsmuir, on the east by that of Salton, and on the south and west by the parish of Ormiston. The surface rises on both sides from the banks of the Tyne, by which it is divided into two nearly equal portions, in a gentle acclivity till it attains a moderate degree of elevation, and is pleasingly diversified with fields in rich cultivation, and with meadows of luxuriant verdure. The river, here a very inconsiderable stream, flows silently through a narrow but highly picturesque valley in its progress towards the sea; and there are numerous springs, affording an ample supply of excellent water. The soil is generally fertile, though not well adapted to green crops, and by good management has been much improved: the whole number of acres in the parish is estimated at 4800, of which 4300 are under tillage, 200 in pasture, and 300 in woods and plantations. The crops are, wheat, barley, oats, peas, beans, potatoes, and turnips; the system of agriculture is in an advanced state, and the six-shift course of husbandry prevalent. The lands are well inclosed, and have been much benefited by furrow-draining, which is extensively practised; the farm houses and offices are substantial and commodious; and on most of the farms are threshing-mills, several of them driven by steam, which is growing rapidly into use. The fences, chiefly thorn hedges, are kept in good order, and contribute much to the pleasing aspect of the parish. About 1400 or 1600 sheep are annually fed for the Edinburgh market. The woods and plantations are mostly on the lands of Winton and Fountainhall, and contain some trees of venerable growth. The substrata are limestone and coal, with some veins of freestone of excellent quality, which are quarried to a considerable extent for building and other purposes: the coalfield is part of the East Lothian range, which appears to terminate in this parish. The coal is found chiefly at a depth of about sixty feet, in seams varying from three feet to nearly five feet in thickness, below which, at a depth of nearly seventy feet, lies a vein of splint coal, from a foot and a half to three feet thick: there are three mines wrought, affording employment to more than 200 persons. There is also a vein of carboniferous limestone, wrought with profit. The nearest markettowns are Haddington and Dalkeith, to which the agricultural produce of the parish is chiefly sent; and facility of communication with these and other places is maintained by good roads: that from Edinburgh to Dunse passes a little to the east of Easter Pencaitland. The rateable annual value of Pencaitland is £7396.Among the chief mansions are, Winton House, the seat of the earls of Winton until the estates were forfeited in 1715, and now the property of Lady Ruthven: and Fountainhall, belonging to Sir Thomas Dick Lauder, Bart.; both very ancient structures. The villages of Easter and Wester Pentcaitland are separated from each other by the Tyne. The latter is of corresponding antiquity with the parish, and appears to have been formerly of more importance than it is at present; it contains an ancient cross, from which it is supposed that a market was formerly held in it. An old proclamation, inserted in the Edinburgh Gazette, in August, 1699, authorized the holding of two fairs in this village, for the sale of horses, cattle, and sheep, and of linen and woollen cloths, on the 8th of June and 4th of October yearly, "free of customs for three years." The population of both places are chiefly employed in agricultural pursuits, and in small handicraft trades; but the inhabitants of the village of Newtown, also in the parish, almost exclusively in the collieries. The ecclesiastical affairs are under the presbytery of Haddington and synod of Lothian and Tweeddale, and the patronage belongs to Lady Ruthven: the stipend of the minister is £291, with a manse, a comfortable residence, and a glebe of six acres of good land, valued at £14 per annum. The church is a venerable structure, of which by far the greater portion was erected in 1631; the other portion, called the Pencaitland aisle, is of much greater antiquity, and most probably part of the original church. It is situated nearly in the centre of the parish; and adjoining to it is an ancient building, known by the name of the "College," probably from having been a seminary previous to the Reformation. The members of the Free Church have a place of worship. The parochial school affords education to about seventy scholars; the master has a salary of £34. 4., with a house and garden, and the fees amount to £30 per annum. The schoolroom, which is ample and commodious, is situated in the village of Wester Pencaitland. A school for girls at Easter Pencaitland was established by the late Mrs. Hamilton, for instructing children in elementary learning and in needle-work; and there is also a school in the village of Newtown, for the children of persons employed in the collieries, the master of which receives from Lady Ruthven and the lessee of the mines certain donations, in addition to the fees. Sir John Lauder, Lord Fountainhall, an eminent lawyer and statesman, who took his title from this parish, was the author of Fountainhall's Decisions, published in two volumes, and of three quarto and ten folio volumes of MSS. James Hamilton, one of the judges of the court of session, and a lord justiciary by the title of Lord Pencaitland; and George Seton, the fifth and last earl of Winton, who was taken prisoner at Preston, and sentenced to death for his attachment to the Pretender, were also among the eminent men connected with this place. Among several distinguished ministers of the parish have been, Calderwood, the ecclesiastical historian, who entered on his spiritual duties here some time after his return from Holland, whither he had been banished during one of the most eventful periods in the history of the Scottish Church; and the Rev. Robert Douglas, who, in the capacity of chaplain, accompanied a brigade of auxiliaries sent over to Germany from this country, to aid the Protestant cause under the celebrated Gustavus Adolphus, by whom he was held in high estimation.
A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. Samuel Lewis. 1856.
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