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Prestonpans and Vicinity

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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.

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 Mary Banks.
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
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