- PRESTONKIRK, a parish, in the county of Haddington, 5 miles (E. N. E.) from Haddington; containing, with the village of Linton, 1869 inhabitants. This place, originally called Linton from the principal village, assumed at the time of the Reformation the appellation of Prestonhaugh, from the position of its church near a meadow on the bank of the Tyne; and this name it still retains in legal documents, in common with its present name of Prestonkirk, which it afterwards obtained. The parish is about seven miles in length from north to south, and four miles in breadth from east to west, and comprises 6270 acres, of which 200 are meadow and pasture, and the whole of the remainder, with the exception of a little waste and wood, arable. The surface is nearly uniform, being broken only by the hill of Traprain Law, in some parts of nearly perpendicular, and in all of precipitate, elevation; and by a very narrow, deep, and richly fertile vale watered by a rivulet. The scenery upon the whole is pleasing, but not adorned with wood, except near the church and the hamlet of Preston, where are some few trees of remarkably fine growth. The river Tyne, which has its rise within ten miles of Haddington, intersects the parish from west to east, dividing it into two nearly equal portions, and falls into the sea about three miles from Dunbar; it forms a beautiful cascade at the village of Linton, which from that circumstance derives its name. The extent and beauty of this fall have, however, been greatly diminished by the cutting of the rocks, which were supposed to obstruct the passage of the salmon up the river; and it is only after floods or continued rains that the cascade displays its wonted grandeur. The removal of the obstructions, moreover, has not added to the quantity of salmon, which are still of small size and in small number; but trout of large size, eels, and flounders, are obtained in great plenty and of excellent quality.The soil is generally good, and in some parts exceedingly rich; the crops are, wheat, oats, barley, potatoes, turnips, and mangel-wurzel. The system of agriculture is highly advanced; considerable progress has been made in draining and inclosing the lands, and the more recent improvements in the construction of implements of husbandry have been adopted. The introduction of bone-dust and guano manures has been attended with success; there is little waste or unprofitable land; the farm-buildings are substantial and commodious, and on most of the farms are threshing-mills, of which many are driven by steam. The substrata of the parish are, limestone, claystone, and clinkstone. The limestone is of a reddish brown colour, interspersed with veins of flint, and is covered with a deep incrustation of calcareous marl, which is substituted for lime in various agricultural uses. The claystone, which is by far the most extensive, appears in some places of the basaltic character, of a dark brown colour inclining to purple, impregnated with iron, and containing porphyry and crystals of felspar. The clinkstone has many varieties, resembling greenstone in some parts, in others interspersed with veins of yellow jasper susceptible of a high polish, and in others with veins of heavy spar. The rateable annual value of Prestonkirk is £16,256. Smeaton House, the seat of Sir Thomas B. Hepburn, Bart., is a handsome modern mansion; Beanston, the property of the Earl of Wemyss, has been deserted, and is fast going to decay. The village is pleasantly situated on the banks of the Tyne, and enjoys facility of intercourse with the neighbouring towns by good roads, which have been lately much improved: the great London road passes for four miles through the parish. There are several mills for oatmeal and barley, and one for flour; and a distillery was until recently carried on, which afforded employment to fifty persons, manufacturing about 500,000 gallons of whisky annually, and paying duty amounting to £112,000 per annum. The parish is in the presbytery of Dunbar and synod of Lothian and Tweeddale, and patronage of Sir Charles Dalrymple Fergusson, Bart.: the minister's stipend is £310. 13. 2., with a manse, and the glebe is valued at £27. 10. per annum. The church was built in 1770, and enlarged in 1824; it is a neat substantial edifice adapted for a congregation of 800 persons. There are places of worship for members of the Free Church, and the United Associate Synod. The parochial school is well conducted, and the master has a salary of £34. 4., with £30 fees, and a house and garden: the female parochial school is managed by a mistress, who has a salary of £3, with a house and schoolroom. There was also till lately a subscription school, of which the master received a salary of £40, with a house and garden. A church appears to have been founded here at a very early period by St. Baldred, the tutelar saint, but was destroyed, together with the neighbouring village, in an irruption of the Saxons. At Hailes are the ruins of Hailes Castle, for some time the residence of Mary, Queen of Scots, when carried off from Edinburgh by the Earl of Bothwell, its proprietor; part of it is appropriated as a granary, and the remainder is rapidly passing into decay. On the lands of Markle are the ruins of an ancient religious house, of which, after the Reformation, the greater portion of the lands was resumed by the crown, and annexed to the chapel royal at Stirling: little is known of the history of the establishment, but from the ruins it appears to have been of great extent, and the style of building of very rude character. There are several large upright stones, supposed to point out the places of interment of chiefs killed in battle; and in the immediate neighbourhood of one of these, near the village of Linton, stone coffins have been frequently discovered. George Rennie, Esq., of Phantassie, in this parish, was celebrated for his extensive improvements in agriculture: his son, the late John Rennie, Esq., eminent as a civil engineer, was born and educated here. Andrew Meikle, who, if not the original inventor of the threshing-machine, at least brought it to its present state of perfection, lived and died at Prestonkirk; and a tombstone is erected to his memory in the churchyard.
A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. Samuel Lewis. 1856.
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