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Crichton, Edinburghshire

Historical Description

CRICHTON, a parish, in the county of EDINBURGH; including the village of Pathhead, and part of Faladam, and containing 1384 inhabitants, of whom 122 are in the village of Crichton, 2 miles (S.) from Ford. This place is of considerable antiquity, and was known to the Romans. Upon the property of Longfaugh are the remains of a Roman camp, the lines and intrenchments of which are well defined; and there is no doubt as to the ancient occupation of the place by armies, of the particulars of whose operations in these parts we have no information. Crichton was anciently remarkable for its church, which was made collegiate in 1449 by Sir William Crichton, chancellor of Scotland, with the consent of James, his son; and a provost, eight prebendaries, and two singing boys were supported out of the rents of Crichton and Locherworth. It was a mensal church, belonging to the archbishop of St. Andrew's; but the bishop had the patronage of the prebends of Vogrie, Arniston, Middleton, and Locherworth. After the Reformation, Sir Gideon Murray, the last provost, obtained a license to convert the church lands of Crichton, with the tithes formerly belonging to the rectory, into a temporal estate. He was treasurer-depute to James VI., and died in 1621, leaving the estate to his son Patrick, who in 1643 was created Lord Elibank: the lands are now possessed by William Burn Callender, Esq.

The celebrated CASTLE of Crichton, which is supposed to have been partly erected in the fourteenth century, was formerly the residence of Chancellor Crichton already mentioned, joint guardian with the Earl of Callender of James II. during his minority, and the promoter of the vigorous measures against the powerful Douglas. While Crichton held the castle, it was besieged and partly demolished by William, Earl of Douglas, after a resistance of nine months; but it was restored with great splendour, and received additions at various times, until it at length assumed the appearance of one of the most magnificent structures of this kind in the country. Though now in ruins, it is a solid massive building, of extremely venerable and imposing appearance. The oldest part of the castle is a narrow keep or tower; but so many additions were made subsequently to the erection of this part that there is now a large court-yard, surrounded by buildings of different ages. The eastern front of the court is raised above a portico, and decorated with entablatures bearing anchors. The stones of this front are cut into diamond facets, of rich appearance; and within this portion of the edifice, there appears to have been a gallery of unusual size and elegance.

The PARISH, which is situated in the eastern part of the county, is about five miles and a half long, and four and a half broad, containing an area of about 4900 acres. Its surface consists of a continued succession of undulations and hollows throughout; a considerable part, in the higher grounds, is covered with wood, and about 560 acres are moorland and outfield. The river Tyne rises in the upper district of the parish, and after running towards the north for two or three miles, makes a bend to the east, passes through the county of Haddington, and falls into the sea near Dunbar. The soil in the lower grounds is mostly a deep rich mould, producing heavy crops; in some other places it is dry and sharp, well adapted to the growth of turnips, which are cultivated to a considerable extent. On the high lands it consists of thin moss resting upon a wet sand or clay, unsuited to husbandry, but congenial to the growth of trees, some of which thrive very well. About 4160 acres of land are in tillage, and all kinds of grain of good quality are produced, as well as potatoes, turnips, and hay. Several hundreds of acres, before considered intractable, have been brought into profitable cultivation within the present century, and improvements in this branch of husbandry are still in progress. The annual value of real property is £5610.

The rocks consist chiefly of limestone of a superior description, large quantities of which have been for many years sent to Edinburgh for the purposes of building; much of it is also sent southward, for agricultural use. Coal is found in different parts of the parish, in thin seams, but no pits have been opened. The great road to the south, by Lauder, passes through Pathhead, where a splendid bridge has been erected over the Tyne, consisting of five arches, each eighty feet high by fifty feet span. The Edinburgh and Hawick railway skirts the south-western boundary of the parish; it there crosses the river Tyne by a great viaduct with correspending embankments, and has a station called the Tyne-head station. Ecclesiastically the parish is within the bounds of the presbytery of Dalkeith and synod of Lothian and Tweeddale; patron, Mr. Callender: the minister's stipend is £264, with a manse, and a glebe valued at £15 per annum. The parish church, which is a fine ancient structure in the form of a cross, was the collegiate church; it was thoroughly repaired about thirty years ago, and will accommodate 600 persons. At Pathhead is a place of worship for dissenters. There is a parochial school, in which the usual branches of education are taught; the master has a salary of £34, with a house, and £26 fees. A good circulating library is supported at Pathhead, and the parish has two friendly societies.

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