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Innerwick, Haddingtonshire

Historical Description

INNERWICK, a parish, in the county of Haddington, 4 miles (S. E. by S.) from Dunbar; containing, with the hamlet of Skateraw, and village of Thorntonloch, 961 inhabitants, of whom 144 are in the village of Innerwick. This place, the name of which is descriptive of its relative position, was granted by David I. to Walter Stewart, to whom the gift was confirmed by Malcolm IV. in 1157; and it remained in the possession of his descendants till the reign of Charles II. It afterwards passed to the Hamiltons, and ultimately to Sir Peter Wedderburn of Gosford, ancestor of the present proprietor. The parish, which is about ten miles in length, and varies from two to three miles in breadth, is bounded on the north-east by the German Ocean, and comprises 11,725 acres, whereof 5040 are arable, 6300 meadow and pasture, and 378 woodland and plantations. Its surface is varied with fertile vales and deep dells, and, from the shore, rises gently towards the Lammermoor hills: the coast, which extends for about two miles, is rocky, but marked with few features of grandeur. The scenery is pleasing, and in some places enriched with wood: that part of the parish bordering upon the hills is characterized by picturesque beauty. There are two small streams, one of which, called the Monynut, rises nearly in the centre of the parish, and taking a south-eastern course, falls into the Whitadder at Abbey St. Bathan's in the county of Berwick. The other, called the Thornton water, rises also near the centre of the parish, and flowing in a direction from south to north, falls into the sea near the village of Thorntonloch.

In general the soil is fertile, consisting of a deep rich loam; and the crops are oats, wheat, barley, peas, beans, potatoes, and turnips. The system of agriculture is in a very advanced state; the course of husbandry on the lighter soils is a five, and on the heavier a six, shift course. Lime and bone-dust are the principal manures. The farm-houses and offices are substantial and well arranged; and the lands are partly inclosed with stone, and partly with hedges of thorn, all of which are kept in good order: most of the farms are furnished with threshing-mills, some of them driven by steam, others by water. Much attention is paid to the rearing of live stock, for which the extent of natural pasture affords abundant opportunity. About 5000 sheep are fed in the hilly district, and a large number, also, are pastured on the lower lands: the former are chiefly of the Cheviot and black-faced breeds, with occasionally a cross between the two; the latter are the Leicestershire. Very few black-cattle are reared; but a considerable number are purchased and fattened for the markets. The annual value of real property in the parish is £10,384. The woods are mostly oak, and the plantations fir: some of the trees are of very ancient growth; and from the names of several places, it would appear that the lands were at one time covered with extensive woods. Of the higher portion of the parish the substrata are greywacke, greywacke slate, and red sandstone intersected with veins of trap rock; and of the lower, limestone, ironstone, bituminous shale, and indications of coal, which last appears to have been formerly worked. The limestone, which is of excellent quality, is quarried at the Skateraw shore, where is also a kiln for burning it into lime for agricultural use. Great quantities of limestone used to be sent from the quarries to the Devon iron-works; at present, the stone is burnt here, and then sent chiefly to Berwickshire. Freestone of good quality for building is also found in the parish, and is worked as occasion requires. A small harbour was constructed on the Skateraw shore, some years since, for the exportation of the produce of the quarries, and for the importation of coal; and belonging to it are two boats employed in the fishery off the coast, where haddock, mackarel, lobsters, and other fish are taken. The village of Innerwick is situated about a mile from the London turnpike-road; it consists of irregularly built and detached houses, on the base of a steep but richly cultivated hill. The inhabitants are chiefly employed in agriculture, and in the trades requisite for the supply of the parish. The North- British railway and the London road intersect the lower part of the parish, and other facilities of intercourse are afforded by roads kept in repair by statute labour.

Innerwick church, together with its revenues, was granted by Walter Stewart to the abbey of Paisley, which gift was confirmed by Malcolm IV. in the twelfth century; it of course ceased to belong to the monks at the Reformation, and in 1670 the great and small tithes were bestowed on Sir Patrick Wedderburn. The parish is now in the presbytery of Dunbar, synod of Lothian and Tweeddale, and in the patronage of Mrs. Hamilton Nisbet Ferguson; the minister's stipend is £277. 19., with a manse, and a glebe valued at £15 per annum. The church, situated on an eminence, in the village of Innerwick, is a neat plain edifice, erected in 1784. The members of the Free Church have a place of worship. Innerwick parochial school, also situated in the village, is well attended; the master has a salary of £31, with £33 fees, and a house and garden. There is a parochial library in the village; and at Thorntonloch, a small itinerating library. The poor are partly supported by the interest of £800 vested in securities. There are some remains of the ancient castle of Innerwick, formerly the baronial residence of the Stewarts, and afterwards of the Hamiltons. In 1403, when occupied by an English garrison, it was assaulted and taken by the Regent, the Duke of Albany; and, together with Thornton Castle, which stood on the opposite bank of the glen, it was attacked by the Protector Somerset, on his invasion of Scotland. The remains are now very slight, and are rapidly disappearing. At a short distance from the castle are some small remains of Edinkens Bridge, the origin of which is involved in obscurity: near it were four large stones, apparently indicating the tomb of some distinguished person, supposed to have been Edwin of Northumbria, who took refuge with Malcolm III. from the tyranny of William the Conqueror. Several stone coffins have been found in the parish, in two of which were a ring and part of a sword; and near the village is a field called Corsikill Park, in which tradition records a conflict to have taken place between Cospatrick and William Wallace. On the Skateraw shore was an ancient chapel dedicated to St. Dennys, the remains of which have within the last few years been completely destroyed by encroachments of the sea.

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