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Prestonpans and Vicinity

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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 disinterested spectator.
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 interference.
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 glens,
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