| declined, declaring " that in respect
of the great injuries done to him, and of his mutilation by
David Seton, " he would " neither hear nor receive
any of David's offers unto the time that landit men subscribed
with him for performance thereof. "
This was the same David Seton, evidently, who was chamberlain
to Lord Seton, the Earl of Winton; had a habitation in the
house known as the Royal George in Tranent, and became notorious
through his servant girl Gilies Duncan in the " Annals
of Witchcraft. " It was quite apparent from the foregoing
that George Hamilton had no confidence in the great "witch
finder, " he would have none of his safe-conduct passes.
But the Presbytery of Haddington held " it was nae excuse.
The foregoing incident is treated of in certain works as culminating
in a great feud between the houses of Seton and Hamilton,
whereas it turns out to have been simply a private quarrel
between the good laird of Preston and the notoriously bad
chamberlain to the Earl of Winton. But there were others besides
the laird of Preston not attending church at this period,
for the Presbytery goes on to complain: " It was not
this twalmonth as it suld be; because of the variances within
the parochin, many vices lay over untried, especially in the
Pannis. " The goodfolks of the Pannis, however, complained
there was no room in Tranent church for them, and they would
not attend there, neither to hear the preaching nor to come
under the ban of the church for their misdeeds. " They
got a minister of their own about 1595, and a church shortly
afterwards, and it was this same George Hamilton who gave
the free grant of land to Davidson in 1596 whereon to build
a church, a manse, and a school.
The Tower was quickly restored to all its former ruggedness
and reoccupied, and George Hamilton was its proud possessor
when Prestonpans, in 1606, was formed into a parish.
George was succeeded by his brother Sir John Hamilton. This
was he who, in 1617, obtained from James VI. charters erecting
the villages of Preston and Prestonpans severally into burghs
of baronies, with the usual privileges pertaining thereto.
In 1647 Thomas Hamilton was retoured heir of entail
and provision of the late John Hamilton of Preston nepotis
sui patris, and it was during this Sir Thomas's proprietorship
and occupancy that Cromwell fell foul of the Tower in 1650
and burned it.
That there had been a feverishly quick succession of lairds
at Preston during this period is very apparent, and that Thomas
had not long survived the destruction of the Tower is evident,
for we find the estates almost immediately in possession of
James de Preston, or Hamilton, and the Tower again restored
and occupied by him. But his occupancy also was of short duration,
for during his residence there in 1663 the Tower was accidentally
set on fire and destroyed, never more to be occupied or inhabited
except by the bats and the owls of Preston.
On 2nd June 1667 another Thomas Hamilton came in to the estate,
in succession to his uncle Sir James de Preston, and this
said Thomas enjoyed the barony till after the Restoration.
Sir William, evidently eldest son of Sir Thomas, succeeded
his father, but having no home at the Tower it is questionable
if he ever took any special interest in the village. Among
the earliest notices we have of Sir William is his figuring
in 1685 as a lieutenant to Rumbold, one of Argyll's officers,
and as such supporting the expedition of Argyll of that date.
About 1695 96 Sir William died, leaving no issue.
Robert Hamilton, brother of William, succeeded, or at all
events ought to have succeeded, to the baronetcy and estate
of Preston. He had several sisters—(see " Old Session-house
Panels "), —but he was the last male of that line of
the Hamiltons of Preston. He had been born and brought up
amid troublous times, and like many of his compeers seems
to have been of a curiously querulous temperament, and yet
considering all things this is little to be wondered at. He
had witnessed in his time the church of his native land, newly
out of the throes of Popery, established under a Presbyterian
form of government. Again, he had beheld the overthrow of
Presbyterianism, and Episcopacy thrust upon a very unwilling
people. Further, he had borne witness to the great revolution
when Episcopacy was overthrown and the Presbyterian form of
government again established, and during all these years of
trial and trouble he had played the part of anything but a
Robert Hamilton was not one of those who believed in the "head"of
the State being also the "head" of the Church. He
held that James may be king of the State, but Christ must
be king of the Church. James continued to form and fashion
the government of the Church in keeping with his own convenience,
and Hamilton protested at all times vigorously against imperial
At an early period of his life he embraced the cause of that
sadly persecuted race the Covenanters, and when they were
debarred in the towns and the villages from worshipping their
Maker according to the dictates of their own consciences,
he led them out to the hillsides, to the moors, and to the