- PENSTON, a village, in the parish of Gladsmuir, county of Haddington, 3 miles (E. by S.) from Haddington; containing 233 inhabitants. This village, which is chiefly inhabited by persons employed in collieries, is irregularly built, and the houses of a very inferior description: it appears to have been indebted for its extension, if not for its origin, to the valuable seams of coal found in the immediate vicinity. The inhabitants are supplied with water from three open wells. A friendly society has been established, which has been productive of benefit by diminishing the number of poor applying to the funds of the parish for relief. The coal is of excellent quality; the seams are generally from thirty to thirty-five inches in thickness, and have been worked almost from time immemorial. The rental of the mines in the 17th century averaged about £400. Several of the older mines have been exhausted, and new ones opened to the north of the village: their operation was formerly much retarded by a copious influx of water, but they have been perfectly drained by the erection of steam-engines, of which there are two now at work. More than a hundred persons are regularly employed, of whom nearly one-half were till lately women and boys; and the quantity of coal produced annually averages 15,000 tons. A saw-mill has been erected, which is applied to the preparation of wood for the use of the mines, and for various other purposes. A school is maintained for the instruction of the children of the colliers; the master is supported by the fees; and a branch of the Haddington Itinerating Library is established in the village. The site of a church erected at Thrieplaw is now occupied by a few huts, raised at the time of the opening of some of the coal-pits in this part of the parish, and in the building of which the walls of that edifice, which had been suffered to fall into decay, were incorporated. The spot where these cottages stand is called the Old Kirk; and the old manse, in which Principal Robertson wrote part of his History of Scotland, is still remaining.
A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. Samuel Lewis. 1856.
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