| his sixpence, four stuffy little wenches were next placed.
The fair winner of this race, if we may so describe about
as sunburnt a little rustic as ever refused to wear a bonnet,
considered herself quite the wonder of the village. Then followed
races by lads, then again races by boys, and so on till time
"After all this fun and nonsense came the dinner, preceding
which came the election of new members, who must abjure the
'Pope, ' the ' Devil, 'and the 'Pretender. ' New members had
also to undergo various measurements for length, breadth,
thickness, and weight, deficiencies in anyone of these particulars
being made up from the extras in any other. The evening, until
the hour for returning, was spent chiefly in seeing and discussing
the ' lions' of the district. "
The Corporation of Chapmen during the three hindmost years
of their existence presented a silver medal to the best scholar
at the Pans Parish School. The first of the three was won
in 1855 by Mr David M'Cairn, Prestonpans. The medal of 1856
by Mr Andrew Nimmo, Tranent, and the chief prize of 1857 by
Mr Thomas Fysche of Dolphinston.
This fine old Market Cross, or great monumental pillar, is
located inside the fruit garden, and only a short distance
from the wall on the north side of the avenue leading eastward
to Preston Old House. Mr John Wright is tenant of the garden,
as his father was before him, and between father and son the
tenancy has now gone on for considerably over half a century.
At what period the Cross was erected seems to be wholly unknown.
Notes from ancient gazetteers state that the Cross was erected
in 1617; some affirm that a date to that effect had at one
time been on the building. If so, no date exists upon it now.
The late Mr Drummond, R. S. A., says of Preston Cross, "
it is one of the only five which are known to have been built
in the same style, the others being those at Edinburgh (destroyed).
Perth (destroyed), Dundee (destroyed), and Aberdeen (removed
from its old site and much altered). The Cross of Preston
is therefore unique in its original beauty and integrity.
" Had Mr Drummond been able to fix a date, he would assuredly
have done so.
Chalmers in his " Caledonia " says, " that
the Chapmen of the Lothians acquired the Cross in 1636, "
other writers say that they "acquired a right to the
Cross, " but in no case is information given as to who
granted the right, and whether it was for a period of years,
or in perpetuity.
Sir John, one of the ablest and most influential of all the
Hamiltons, was proprietor of the estate in 1636. It is located
on the barony of Preston, and if anyone more than another
was enabled to grant a right to the Cross, surely it would
be the " Lord of the Manor, " and yet his name is
never mentioned in connection with the Cross.
This being a regular Market Cross, it would, undoubtedly,
during the early centuries stand on public ground; and whether
anyone ever did, or could acquire a right, either to the structure
itself, or to enclose it, is, to say the least, doubtful;
but probably in 1732, when St Jerome's Fair was transferred
from Preston to Prestonpans, and when the original corporation
of Chapmen ceased to attend the Cross, then the ancient structure
would be gathered into privacy.
At this period Lord Grange was proprietor of the barony, and
occupied Preston House. We know that he set himself not only
to gather together all the scattered lands of the ancient
barony into one estate, but to make fanciful gardens and enclosures
around him. Further, from several of his actions, he seems
to have always worked with a high hand, and he no doubt was
the man who enclosed the Cross.
Up till about the year 1840 the Cross was enclosed with a
hedge only, and a small ditch ran alongside of it. At that
period the ditch was filled up, the hedge removed, and the
present stone dyke set up in its stead.
It may not have been right to enclose the ancient and beautiful
pillar, but one thing is certain, if it had not been enclosed,
and in the careful keeping of such tenants as the Wrights
during the last half century, the same might have been written
of it long ago as has been written of the market crosses of
Edinburgh, Perth, Dundee, and Aberdeen.
The base of the octagonal structure, on which the great monolith
still proudly raises its head to the clouds, has recently
been strengthened by a layer of cement. Rising about three
feet from the base there are six niches round the building,
one of these towards the north side \s curiously enough
more shallow than the others, but all with one accord are
beautifully scalloped, of a cockle-shell pattern—over these,
and some nine