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Prestonpans and Vicinity

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that they might hold their religious services without restriction or fear of interruption. Hunted like wild beasts over the moors, he accompanied them, seeking shelter from their merciless persecutors in the caves of the earth, or hiding amid the mists on the mountains.
He was associated with Cameron in his crusade against " the indulgences and those who accepted them. " He was leader of the band which, in 1679, published the " Declaration " and burned certain Acts of Parliament at Rutherglen. He commanded the Covenanters in their successful skirmish with the dragoons at Drumclog, and continued to occupy the same position till the disaster at Bothwell. After the defeat at Bothwell he escaped to Holland, where he remained till after the Revolution. But he was outlawed in his absence, his property confiscated, and himself condemned to death. For about ten years he lived a wandering and uncertain life, being sometimes quite dependent on the charity of strangers.
Robert Hamilton returned to his native land in 1689, but, notwithstanding all he had suffered, he was still the same stern, unyielding covenanter. Rather than conform to any form of Church government in which a king was the supposed head, he still elected to hear the word of God proclaimed in barns or by the wayside, or, when hunted like a wild beast, in glens among the mountains.
In the Sanquhar Declaration, 1692, he and his persecuted associates describe themselves as " a poor, wasted, misrepresented remnant of the suffering anti-popish, anti-prelatic, anti-erastian, anti-sectarian, true Presbyterian Church of Scotland. We disown the publishing of that ' Declaration of His Highness William, Prince of Orange, ' and espousing it as the state of the Church and Kingdom of Scotland's quarrel, while he was, and yet is, surrounded in council by an army, and by many of the old inveterate enemies of Christ's cause and people. We declare the refusal of our concurrence with the course now on foot, it being no way concerted according to the ancient plea of the Scottish Covenanters, or the Covenanted Reformation in England, Scotland, and Ireland; but instead thereof, adjoining and concurring with the promoters of papacy, prelacy, malignancy, etc., in their designs, whereby the enemies of Christ are brought into places of greatest power and trust, instead of bringing the wheel of justice over them. "
His brother, Sir William, died some years after Robert's return from Holland, but he did not profit much, if at all, by the change. He was afterwards known as Sir Robert, but he
steadfastly refused to take the necessary legal steps to obtain
possession of the property, or seek to obtain the title.
The reason given for his contumacy is, " because in doing so he could not avoid recognising the existing government and the courts of law. " There is no doubt whatever that Sir Robert was in real earnest in refusing to bend the knee in supplication to king or government; but there were other reasons, some of which he would have found it exceedingly difficult to get over before he could find favour in the eyes of those in authority. For had he not been privy to the publication of the Declaration of 1692, in which the king and his government were disowned, and for which seditionary act he and several others had already been arrested and imprisoned?
Sir Robert was ultimately brought before the Justiciary Court for the part he had played in the " Declaration, " but he refused to own the court, or plead before it. He would not swerve from the position he had taken up, and was sent back to prison. But after a while the authorities, thinking they had nothing to fear from such a man, ordered his release.
On the 21st of October 1701, Sir Robert Hamilton, still in the prime of life, died at Bo'ness after a lingering illness.
It is not recorded that Robert ever paid a visit to his paternal estate at Preston, either during his youth or his years of maturity. Indeed, if he did not form an acquaintanceship with the village and villagers when a boy, it may be safely set down that he never approached it after he got into the whirl of religious controversy, and his brother Sir William being proprietor during nearly both of their lifetimes, he had all the less cause to approach it.
Sir Robert left a written testimony behind him, and among other items in it was a clause to this effect: " I die a true Protestant, and, to my knowledge, a reformed Presbyterian. "
With the death of Sir Robert ended the direct male line of that ancient family, but the family and the name were not yet extinct. We find a Dame Rachel Nicolson (Lady Preston) taking a great interest in the parish. She died in 1716. Another titled lady, Anna Hamilton, also took an interest in the parish. She married Gilbert Burnet, and died in 1718. And yet another is supposed to have married Sir James Oswald, Lord Provost of Edinburgh. These three are supposed to have been sisters of the last Sir William and Sir Robert Hamilton of Preston: and it must have been through the youngest of these, the wife of Sir James Oswald, that his son, Dr Oswald, entitled nephew to Sir Robert Hamilton,
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