Parish of Inveresk

A historical perspective, drawn from the Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland: A Survey of Scottish Topography, Statistical, Biographical and Historical, edited by Francis H. Groome and originally published in parts by Thomas C. Jack, Grange Publishing Works, Edinburgh between 1882 and 1885.

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1791-99: Inveresk
1834-45: Inveresk

Inveresk (Gael. inbhir-uisge, `confluence of the water'), a village and a coast parish of NE Edinburghshire. The village stands above the right bank of the winding Esk, 5 furlongs S of Musselburgh, and ¼ mile N by W of Inveresk station on the main line of the North British, this being 6½ miles E by S of Edinburgh. Enjoying so healthy a climate as long to have been called the Montpelier of Scotland, it extends along a broad-based gentle ascent, whose higher parts command wide and delightful views-northward across the Firth of Forth, south-westward away to the Pentlands; and itself it is a pleasant, old-fashioned place, whose trees and gardens, last-century mansions, and more recent villas give it somewhat the aspect of a Thames-side village. The parish church, on the western summit of the hill, is a plain, square, barn-like edifice of 1805, with 2400 sittings, a high conspicuous spire, and a churchyard which for beauty is scarce to be matched in all the kingdom. Its ancient predecessor, dedicated to St Michael, and supposed to have been founded soon after the introduction of Christianity out of the ruins of a Roman station, was gifted by Malcolm Ceannmor to the church of Dunfermline. At the time of its demolition it had four aisles, two upon either side, and measured 102 feet in length. In Dec. 1545, barely two months before his martyrdom, George Wishart preached to large congregations within its walls; and its minister for 57 years was Alexander Carlyle, D.D. (1722-1805). He, 'Jupiter Carlyle'- the 'grandest demigod,' said Scott, 'I ever saw,-left behind him an Autobiography of singular interest, which was edited by Dr Hill Burton in 1860. The prætorian of the Roman station of Inveresk, on ground now partly occupied by the parish church, from 1547 onwards has vielded a number of Roman remains-an altar, a hypocaust (1783), urns, bricks, medals, etc.-described in David Moir's Roman Antiquities of Inveresk (Edinb. 1860). Pop. of village (187l) 341, (1881) 308. The parish contains also the town of Musselburgii, with the suburbs of Fisherrow and Newbigging, the villages of Cowpits and Old Craighall, and part of the village of New Craighall. It is bounded N by the Firth of Forth, E by Prestonpans and Tranent in Haddingtonshire, SE by Ormiston, S by Dalkeith, SW by Newton, and W by Liberton and Duddingston. Its length, from N to S, varies between 2¼ and 35/8 miles; its utmost breadth, from E to W, is 31/8 miles; and its area is 5925¼ acres, of which 718¾ are foreshore and 51¾ water. The beautiful wooded Esk enters the parish 1 furlong below the North and South Esk's confluence in Dalkeith Park, and thence winds 3¾ miles north-byeastward through the interior till it falls into the Firth between Musselburgh and Fisherrow; whilst Burdiehouse Burn runs 13/8 mile north-north-eastward along all the north-western border. The Carberry hills, at the Haddingtonshire boundary, attain an altitude of 540 feet above sea-level; but elsewhere the surface is low and flat or gently undulating, and nowhere rises much above 100 feet. The rocks belong to the coal-measures of the Carboniferous Limestone series; and coal, sandstone, and limestone have all been worked, the first from a very early period. The soil of the flat grounds is naturally sandy, but has been worked into a condition of high fertility; the land to the S of Inveresk village, on either side of the Esk, is of better quality; and on the high grounds in the SE is clayey, and yields heavy crops of grain. Almost all the land, not occupied by buildings or by roads, is in a state of first-rate cultivation; and, though in places less planted than might be desired for shelter and beauty, possesses the fine woods of Newhailes and Drumore, and includes a considerable section of the nobly wooded ducal park of Dalkeith. The manors of Little Inveresk, having long been held by the monks of Dunfermline, were given by James VI. to the first Lord Maitland of Thirlestane, under whose grandson, the infamous Duke of Lauderdale, they suffered much curtailment. With exception of the parts that had been alienated, they were purchased in 1709 by Anne, Duchess of Buccleuch and Monmouth. Among natives and residents, not noticed under Musselburgh and Newhailes, have been Admiral Sir David Milne, G.C.B.; his son, Admiral Sir Alexander Milne, Bart., G.C.B., F.R.S.E.; and Sir David Wedderburn, Bart., M.P. The chief events and antiquities are treated under Carberry, Pinkie, and Musselburgh. Nine proprietors hold each an annual value of £500 and upwards, 49 of between £100 and £500, 58 of from £50 to £100, and 140 of from £20 to £50. In the presbytery of Dalkeith and synod of Lothian and Tweeddale, this parish is divided ecclesiastically between Inveresk and North Esk quoad sacra parish, the former a living worth £471. Two landward schools, Cowpits public and Old Craighall, with respective accommodation for 59 and 75 children, had (1881) an average attendance of 30 and 47, and grants of £18. 5s. 9d. and £17, 3s. Landward valuation (1871) £24,489, (1883) £26,322, of which £4684 was for railways and waterworks. Pop. of entire parish (1801) 6600, (1831) 8961, (1861) 9525, (1871) 10,071, (1881) 10, 537, of whom 7880 were in Musselburgh, 5133 in Inveresk, and 5404 in North Esk.—Ord. Sur., sh. 32, 1857.

An accompanying 19th C. Ordnance Survey map is available, or use the map tab to the right of this page.

Note: This text has been made available using a process of scanning and optical character recognition. Despite manual checking, some typographical errors may remain. Please remember this description dates from the 1880s; names may have changed, administrative divisions will certainly be different and there are known to be occasional errors of fact in the original text, which we have not corrected because we wish to maintain its integrity. This information is provided subject to our standard disclaimer

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