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Prestonpans and Vicinity

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Town Drummers, Bell Ringers, Criers, etc. : Old Hunter—Young Hunter, better known as Puddock Wull—As a Swimmer—Lost at Haddington—A bit of a Glutton—A brief Wooing—Tricked by Tranent Bell Ringer—Wull enlists for a Soldier—Geordie Muir—Davie Storie—Robbie Smith and the Dishcloot—Robbie Smith's Marriage—Sandie Kedzlie and the Barrelless Gun—Sandie and his Siller—The Old Flint Gun—Rob Tamson's Prayer.
PRESTONPANS, like other country villages, has always had its quota of curious characters, in the form of town criers, drummers, bell ringers, kirk beadles, etc. In many districts the kirk officer held all the aforenamed offices, but in Prestonpans the beadle as a rule always held himself superior to these things. There have been town criers here from a very early period, but we draw the line at old Hunter, who is still well remembered among the more ancient of the villagers.
Old Hunter was a genuine native of the soil, and a shoemaker. He became town bellringer, town drummer, and town crier at an early age, and ceased to make a din only when his tongue would no longer waggle or his fingers hold a drumstick. He was succeeded in office by his son William, better known as

Wull, like his predecessor, went in for "cobbling," and if he succeeded his father in the art of using his awl, he also succeeded him in the office of town drummer. Along with these he inherited many of his father's peculiarities, and possessed no end of whimsicalities very much his own.

The new town drummer was a strong-bodied man, with not altogether uncomely features, but he was very much malformed in his nether limbs. His knees were flattened outwards, and his heels came in till they met together. He walked, or bounded rather, with the aid of a pair of crutches. His youthful tormentors maintained that he leapt like a frog, and they nicknamed him " Puddock Wull." Wull was a powerful swimmer. He was far ahead of all comers in the district, and his aquatic powers were said to be owing to the malformation of his limbs. A boat in distress excited him terribly, through eagerness to rush to the rescue. He liked to be among the wild waves revelling. He ventured into the most dangerous places, and it became a common saying, "There is nae droonin' o' Wull."
If a " wild beast" show arrived in the village, if a concert or soiree was to be, or if a sale by auction was about to take place, Wull's services were sure to be in request, and with his big drum fixed in front of him, and surrounded by noisy children, he was in his glory.
Thus accompanied, off he would bound, halt betimes, and sound his drum. He was gifted with a most stentorian voice. His words could be heard distinctly from one end of the village to the other. After proclaiming his news towards the west end of the village, he would set off by way of Tranent, where he was very well known, then making his way down by Cockenzie and Preston Links he would re-enter the village at the east end, and by this means he maintained that he was for Prestonpans, the best—

" Disseminator of news
That ever stood before
In a pair of leather shoes."

One day, during a fit of humour or spleen, Wull, by one of his announcements, rather surprised the natives. Arrayed m all his glory, he took his place in front of the principal inn. "What's up the day, Wull ? " inquired a lounger.
"Sad news! Sad news!" was the reply; "but halt and
And after sounding his drum, he bawled out at the top
of his voice, . „
"Lost! Lost! Lost!'
"Ay, lost at Haddington the other day-a lawyers con-
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