| At an early age Mr Brown went abroad and became one of
the most successful merchants of his day. He afterwards settled
in London, whence he showered his charitable gifts around
him, but always as an anonymous donor.
On one occasion his assistance was requested for a new school
at Cockenzie, the other being entirely out of repair. He at
once replied offering to build a new school entirely at his
own expense, on condition that his name was kept out of it.
The work was soon accomplished and magnificently done.
His old friends at Prestonpans wished assistance with a public
hall, which they had striven for years to get erected. See
how it ended later on.
He had two brothers in the medical profession, one of them
established for a time at Tranent. They both died at an early
age. They were wont to tell him of the Royal Infirmary at
Edinburgh, how grand an institution it was, but they never
failed to follow up their exclamations of praise with the
wish that there was a special home to remove the convalescents
to for a while before disbanding them altogether. For, they
maintained, that many of the patients, though sent home cured
of their troubles, through carelessness or otherwise, very
often, after a few days, returned no better than they had
been at first on seeking relief.
The words of his brothers he never ceased to remember, and
as soon as he found it convenient, he it was, again as an
anonymous donor, who instituted the Convalescent Home at Corstorphine,
in connection with the Royal Infirmary, and of which so many
are now continually reaping the benefit. Mr. Brown died upwards
of two years ago in London, and was buried in the home of
his adoption. Mr Brown is further referred to elsewhere.
ANCIENT FAMILY NAMES—TAYLOR, BANKS, AND BROWN.
This, as far as can be discovered, is the most ancient family
name extant in the parish, showing, as it does, a continuous
lineal connection with a family who settled in Prestonpans
towards the latter end of the 17th century, with a family
resident in the parish and neighbourhood even at the present
day. The name referred to is that of Taylor, and the family
is supposed to have been originally of Huguenot extrac tion.
Dr Smiles, in his " History of the Huguenots, "
says: — "Among the conversions of French into English
names may be mentioned that of Le-Tellier, which became Taylor.
The present family have some reason for believing that their
paternal ancestors were French and Huguenots, but that cannot
now be certified. The first notice we have of them is when
settled in the north of Scotland at Fraserburgh, where they
seem to have got into touch with the Reforming party, and
to have held firmly by it, for we learn that during the early
part of the 17th century, owing to severe measures being taken
against the party of progress in the north, Alexander Taylor,
leaving Fraserburgh, settled among quite a host of congenial
spirits in Prestonpans, some of whom had been under the able
ministrations of that eminent divine John Davidson.
We have no authority for stating that Alexander Taylor ever
"sat under" that fearless reformer, but we know
that he made the acquaintance of John Banks, whose father
had been an elder, and took an active part in the congregation
along with his minister, John Davidson; and we find that John
Banks, son of the former, and John Taylor, —this John Taylor
was born about 1734; he set a ladder against the old garden
wall at Prestonpans, and witnessed the battle of Preston from
a distance, —son of the latter, were elders in the church
at Prestonpans at a later date, and "witnessed"
the baptism of the infant daughter of Alexander Banks and
Marion Erskine, who afterwards went to reside at Haddington,
and whose son James, and his grandson John, became Provosts
of the ancient burgh of Haddington. This same John Banks was
presented with the freedom of Dunbar, Linlithgow, and Jedburgh.
The writs and stamps in connection with these presentations
are safely preserved by the family at West Seton.
It is somewhat remarkable that, after the lapse of more than
a century, the friendship between the families of these two
elders of the early church at Prestonpans should have been
renewed by the marriage, in 1822, of Alexander Taylor and
After this little retrogression we return to John Taylor,
born about 1734. He is said to have been " highly esteemed
not only as a kind friend, but as an helper in every good
work. " Besides being an able farmer he was a bit of
a "scientist, " and is said to have supplied valuable
papers to the Astronomical Society in Edinburgh. The old gentleman
resided mostly at Prestonpans, visiting occasionally his property
of Claybarns, now called Hopefield, —sold at the decease of
Mr Taylor, —and his farm at Seton West Mains. John Taylor
seems to have been a very early riser. One of