Tranent - Encyclopedia

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TRANENT, a police burgh of Haddingtonshire, Scotland. Pop. (1901), 2584. It lies 9z m. E. of Edinburgh by road and 1 m. S.E. of Prestonpans station on the North British railway. The town possesses the oldest coal-mining charter (1202-1218) in Great Britain, and the mines and quarries in the neighbourhood provide the staple industry. A fragment of a parish church, said to have been built in the 11th century, still stands. Of the palace of the Setons which stood in the parish there are no remains. It was demolished towards the close of the 18th century and a modern mansion was erected on its site.

In the neighbouring village of Ormiston, in 1885, a granite obelisk was erected in memory of Robert Moffat (1795-1883), a native, the South African missionary and father-in-law of Livingstone. At Ormiston Hall, a seat of the marquess of Linlithgow, there is a yew tree, beneath which the reformer George Wishart (1513-1546) used to preach. Hard by is the village of Pencaitland, divided into an eastern and a western portion, by the Tyne. The parish church in Easter Pencaitland probably dates from the 13th century. The aisle may belong to the original building, but the rest is of the 16th century, excepting the small belfry of the 17th century. The old house of Pencaitland stands in the grounds of Winton Castle, which was erected by the 3rd earl of Winton in 1620 but forfeited by the 5th earl, who was involved in the Jacobite rising of 1715. Five miles south-east of Tranent is the village of Salton (or Saltown), where Gilbert Burnet, afterwards bishop of Salisbury, had his first charge (1665). At his death he bequeathed the parish 20,000 marks for the clothing and educating of poor children. He was tutor to Andrew Fletcher, who was born at Salton in 1655 and buried there in 1716. At Fletcher's instigation James Meikle, a neighbouring millwright, went to Holland to learn the construction of the iron-work of barley mills, and the mill which he erected at Salton after his return not only gave Salton barley a strong hold on the market, but was also for forty years the only mill of its kind in the British Isles. Meikle's son Andrew (1719-1811), inventor of the threshing machine, carried on his trade of millwright at Houston Mill near Dunbar. Andrew Fletcher, also of Salton (1692-1766), nephew of the elder Andrew, became lord justice clerk in 1735 under the style of Lord Milton. By his mother's energy the art of weaving and dressing holland linen was introduced into the village. She travelled in Holland with two skilled mechanics who contrived to learn the secrets of the craft. The British Linen Company laid down their first bleachfield at Salton under Lord Milton's patronage. Salton also lays claim to having been the birthplace of the poet William Dunbar.

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