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Cockpen, Edinburghshire

Historical Description

COCKPEN, a parish, in the county of EDINBURGH, 3 miles (S. by W.) from Dalkeith, containing, with the villages of Bonnyrigg, Dalhousie, Gowkshill, Hillhead, Hunterfield, Polton-Street, Prestonholme, Skiltiemuir, Stobhill-Engine, and Westmill, 2345 inhabitants, of whom 709 are in the rural districts. This place, which is on the river South Esk, is supposed to have derived its name from the situation of the church upon an eminence, and the prevailing colour of the soil. It comprises chiefly the barony of Dalhousie, the property of the ancient family of Ramsay, of whom William, Lord Ramsay, was created Earl of Dalhousie by Charles I. in 1633. There are still some remains of the ancient baronial residence of Dalhousie, which was a quadrangular structure with angular towers, and one of the strongest fortresses in this part of the country; and though altered into a slightly castellated mansion as a family residence, it still retains some vestiges of its ancient character. The PARISH is about three miles and a half in length, and two and a half in extreme breadth. Its surface is pleasingly undulated, and the prevailing scenery abounds with interesting features. The banks of the South Esk, which intersects the southern part of the parish, are crowned with ancient wood, and the various other streamlets that flow through the lands, add greatly to the beauty of the landscape. The soil is generally a strong clay, well adapted to the growth of grain, and, under good cultivation, yielding crops of wheat, barley, oats, and peas, with a few potatoes and turnips. The annual value of real property in the parish is £8801. The plantations, which are extensive, abound with every variety of trees and ornamental shrubs, and are in a highly flourishing condition. In this parish the substrata are chiefly coal, which is very abundant, and limestone and freestone of excellent quality, which are extensively quarried: copperas, also, has been obtained.

The ancient castle of Dalhousie is beautifully situated on an eminence overlooking the river Esk, it was modernised by the late earl, and the pleasure-grounds have been tastefully laid out in walks, and embellished with shrubs and plantations. On the opposite bank of the river was the ancient mansion-house of Cockpen, purchased, within the last few years, by the earl, from Mr. Baron Cockburn, by whom the adjacent lands had been greatly improved; only some of the walls are now standing, which give a truly romantic character to the scenery. The village of Cockpen lies upon the western bank of the South Esk, over which is a handsome bridge of stone, affording facility of communication; and the Edinburgh and Hawick railway skirts the eastern boundary of the parish. In the several villages are various works. Ecclesiastically, Cockpen is within the bounds of the presbytery of Dalkeith and synod of Lothian and Tweeddale. The minister's stipend is £157, of which £24 are paid from the exchequer; with a manse and a glebe valued at £21 per annum: patron, the Marquess of Dalhousie. The church, erected in 1820, is a neat plain structure, containing 625 sittings. There is a place of worship for the Free Church. The parochial school is well conducted; the master has a salary of £34, with a house and garden, and the fees average £28.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland, 1851 by Samuel Lewis