- GLADSMUIR, a parish, in the county of Haddington, 3½ miles (E. by N.) from Tranent; containing, with the villages of Samuelston, Long Niddry, and Penston, 1699 inhabitants. This place, which was anciently a wide uncultivated moor, is supposed to have derived its name from its being the resort of vast numbers of kites. It formed part of the possessions of Alexander Baliol, whose brother, John, father of John Baliol, King of Scotland, founded the college at Oxford called after his name, and whose son, William, obtained, by marriage with the daughter of William Wallace, the lands of Lamington, in the county of Lanark, and, altering his name to Baillie, founded the family of the Baillies of Lamington, whose lineal descendant is the present proprietor. The parish is five miles in length, extending from the Frith of Forth, on the north, to the river Tyne, on the south; it is four miles in breadth, and comprises 6731 acres, of which 6386 are arable and in good cultivation, 302 woodland and plantations, thirty-four are homesteads, and seven and a half, roads. The surface rises gradually from the northern and southern extremities, forming an elevated ridge nearly in the centre of the parish, on the highest point of which the church is situated, and along which passes the great London road. The shore of the Frith, which bounds the parish for about a mile, is rugged, and interspersed with large masses of detached rocks. The Tyne, which forms a boundary for something more than a mile and a half, is but an inconsiderable stream, scarcely sufficient for turning some mills in its course. In the lower lands are several copious springs, affording an abundant supply of water. The scenery is generally pleasing, and in some parts finely embellished with rich and flourishing plantations; and from the higher grounds are obtained extensive and interesting views of the surrounding country.The soil is various; in some parts a rich loam, in others loam intermixed with clay, in some light and sandy, and in others a deep moss: the crops are, barley, oats, wheat, beans, peas, potatoes, and turnips. The system of agriculture is in a very advanced condition; the lands have been greatly improved by draining, and by the introduction of bone-dust and guano as manures; much waste has been reclaimed, and many tracts of sterile marsh brought into a highly-cultivated state. The farm-houses are substantial and well built, and on most of the farms are threshing-mills, driven by steam; the lands are inclosed with hedges of thorn, and ditches, which are kept in good order. Great attention is paid to the rearing of live stock: the sheep, of which about 3000 are annually pastured, are chiefly of the Cheviot breed, with a cross between that and the Leicestershire; the cattle, of which 500 are annually fattened for the markets, and the milch-cows, are partly of the Ayrshire breed. About 220 horses, also, are reared, chiefly for agricultural purposes. The woods consist of oak, beech, lime, birch, elm, chesnut, and hazel; and the plantations of Scotch fir, spruce, and larch. The lands are rich in mineral wealth, and the inhabitants, in addition to their agricultural pursuits, are extensively employed in mining. The substrata are principally coal, limestone, and ironstone. The coal is found mostly in the district of Penston, where it has been worked for some centuries; the old mines being almost exhausted, new ones have been opened in the same field, and every where coal is found in abundance. The seams vary in thickness from thirty-two inches to three feet; steamengines have been erected in the new pits, to drain off the water, and the workings are successfully carried on. In 1835, a blacksmith residing at the village of Mc Merry, on the property of St. Germains, in sinking a well behind his house, discovered a vein of parrot coal, which was profitably wrought for some time, but has lately failed. Between Gladsmuir and the village of Samuelston, the magistrates of Haddington attempted to form a colliery on their own land; but after an outlay of more than £2000, they abandoned the proceedings. Limestone is worked in several parts, and near Long Niddry is a kiln for burning it into lime; there are also kilns in other places, but the works are not carried on to any great extent. Iron-ore is frequently found; it was wrought for some time on the lands belonging to the Earl of Wemyss; and from the increase in the demand for iron, the works will most probably be resumed. The rateable annual value of Gladsmuir is £11,103. Elvingston House, a seat in the parish, is a handsome mansion, completed in 1840, and pleasantly situated in a tastefully laid-out demesne, approached by an avenue of trees about 300 yards in length. Southfield, the property of the earl, is also a handsome house, surrounded with plantations, and now in the occupation of a tenant; and at Greendykes are some farm-buildings of very superior character. The nearest market-town is Haddington, which is the principal mart for the agricultural produce, and with which, and the neighbouring towns, facilities of communication are afforded by excellent roads: the London road passes for nearly three miles through the parish, and the numerous cross-roads are kept in good repair by statute labour.The parish consists of the lands of Samuelston, Penston, Elvingston, and others, which, in the year 1650, were severed from the parishes of Haddington and Aberlady, and a church erected at Thrieplaw, which continued to be the parochial church till 1695, when another edifice was built, and the original one was suffered to fall into decay. The ecclesiastical affairs are under the presbytery of Haddington and synod of Lothian and Tweeddale; alternate patrons, the Crown and the Earl of Hopetoun. The minister's stipend is £316. 17., with a manse, and a glebe valued at £8 per annum. The church, situated nearly in the centre of the parish, is a handsome structure, and adapted for a congregation of about 750 persons. The eminence on which it is built commands a magnificent prospect embracing the Frith of Forth, with the county of Fife, the North Berwick and the Traprain hills, the vale of Tyne and the Lammermoor hills, the distant heights of Dumbarton and the county of Perth, and a vast variety of other interesting objects. The parochial school affords education to nearly 100 children; the master has a salary of £34, with £32 fees, and a house and garden. There are also schools at Samuelston and Long Niddry, the masters of which have a house and garden rent-free, and the former a salary of £15, paid by Lord Haddington, and the latter one of £9, in addition to the customary fees.In various parts are the foundations of old houses, leading to an opinion that the parish was once more populous; and there are also remains of several ancient mansions. Of these are, the mansion of Long Niddry, the seat of a branch of the Douglas family; the houses of East and West Adniston, of which scarcely any vestiges are remaining; and the old mansion-house of Penston, once of great strength, with arched roofs, but which has been long a ruin, and its remains converted into farm-buildings. Some stone coffins have been discovered at Seaton hill, containing many human bones; they were generally of red flagstone, about five feet long and two feet wide, and near them was found an urn filled with burnt bones. On the lands of Southfield, some labourers, while making drains, dug up a considerable number of small British coins of silver; and several similar coins have been found at Greendykes. John Knox, when compelled to leave St. Andrew's, took refuge at Long Niddry, where he acted as tutor to the sons of Mr. Douglas; and during his stay there, he preached the reformed doctrines in a chapel near the mansion-house, which still, though in ruins, retains the name of "Knox's Kirk." There are slight vestiges of the ancient parochial church which was situated at Thrieplaw: on the establishment of the coal-works at that place, the remaining walls were incorporated into the dwellings of the miners. Near the village of Penston, also, are the ruins of an old windmill, which, in the earlier working of the collieries in the neighbourhood, was erected for the purpose of drawing off the water from the pits, which is now much more effectually done by steam-engines. Dr. Robertson, principal of the university of Edinburgh, was incumbent of this parish, where he succeeded his uncle, Andrew Robertson, in 1744; and during his residence here, he composed the greater portion of his History of Scotland.
A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. Samuel Lewis. 1856.
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