Edinburghshire, Scotland


EDINBURGHSHIRE, or Mid Lothian, the metropolitan county of the kingdom of Scotland, bounded on the north by the Firth of Forth, along the shore of which it extends for about twelve miles; on the east, by Haddingtonshire and small portions of the counties of Berwick and Roxburgh; on the south, by the counties of Lanark, Peebles, and Selkirk; and on the west, by Linlithgowshire. It lies between 55° 39' and 55° 59' (N. Lat.) and 2° 36' and 3° 33' (W. Long.), and is about thirty-six miles in length from east to west, and eighteen miles in extreme breadth, comprising an area of 360 square miles, or 230,400 acres; 41,779 houses, of which 38,927 are inhabited; and containing a population of 225,454, of whom 102,666 are males and 122,788 females. The county originally occupied the central portion of the ancient and extensive province of Lothian, or Loudon, and from this circumstance it obtained the appellation of Mid Lothian, by which it is still often designated. It appears to have been inhabited at a very early period by the Ottadini and Gadeni, two of the British tribes descended from the Celts, who first made themselves masters of this part of Britain, and who maintained their independence till the time of the Roman invasion, when, to secure his conquests, Agricola constructed a chain of forts extending from the Forth to the Clyde. Though frequently assailed by incursions of the Caledonians and Britons, the Romans, notwithstanding occasional reverses, retained possession of the territories they had acquired, which under their sway formed part of the province of Valentia. After their departure from Britain, this district very soon fell into the power of the Saxons, who established themselves under their chieftain Ida in the surrounding countries, which they continued to govern with absolute authority. In the reign of Malcolm II., Uchtred, Earl of Northumberland, against whom that monarch marched an army for the recovery of his rightful dominions, after a long contested battle on the banks of the Tweed, gained the victory; but, Uchtred being soon afterwards assassinated, Malcolm, in prosecution of his claims, renewed the war against the earl's successor, Eadulph, whom he compelled to cede the disputed territory for ever; and since that period it has continued to form part of the kingdom of Scotland. Subsequently to this date, the history of the county is so perfectly identified with the history of the capital, and that of Scotland at large, that any fuller detail in this place would be superfluous.

The introduction of Christianity appears to have been, in some small degree, accomplished during the time of the Romans; but, the Saxons being strangers to that faith, it made but little progress till, by the persevering efforts of the pious Baldred and St. Cuthbert, it was more generally diffused. Prior to the cession of Lothian in the reign of Malcolm II., this district was comprised in the ancient diocese of Lindisfarn; it was subsequently included in that of St. Andrew's, and continued to be part thereof until the erection of the diocese of Edinburgh, in which it remained till the Revolution. Since that period the county has formed a portion of the synod of Lothian and Tweeddale, and it now comprises the presbytery of Edinburgh, and thirty parishes, besides those in the city of Edinburgh. For civil purposes, it was first erected into a sheriffdom in the reign of David I., and is under the jurisdiction of a sheriff, by whom two sheriffs-substitute are appointed; the sessions and other courts are held at Edinburgh, the county town, and courts for the recovery of small debts at Edinburgh and Dalkeith. Edinburgh is the only royal burgh; Musselburgh and Canongate are burghs of regality, and the county also contains Dalkeith and Portsburgh, burghs of barony, the town and port of Leith, and the flourishing villages of Inveresk, Joppa, Portobello, Newhaven, Corstorphine, Currie, Mid Calder, West Calder, Gilmerton, Loanhead, Roslin, Penicuick, Lasswade, Ratho, Bonnyrig, Cramond, and Pathhead, with numerous pleasant hamlets. By the act of the 2nd of William IV., the county returns one member to the imperial parliament.

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