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Prestonpans and Vicinity

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Splendid Banquet will be prepared under the auspices of Brother Murray of the Morning and Evening Star, both of which are expected to be present.
WE commend such of the Brethren as have Friends not likely to bring any discredit on the fraternity, and who can produce undoubted TESTIMONIALS of GOOD MORAL Character and correct Behaviour, to present them before Us for approval at OUR Ancient Cross.

Given at our Palace Salt Preston, this 1st day of July 1851. BY COMMAND.

My Lord's State Carriage for Salt Preston will leave the N.B.R. Terminus at 20 minutes before n o'clock A.M.
The foregoing is a form of circular which was wont to be sent out annually from the city of Edinburgh by the members of the Chapmen's Association. That there was fun at the foundation of it, may readily be seen. There was no fun however in the figure 4 at the foot of the circular. This denoted that the Chapmen always liked to have fourpence in the is. when selling their goods.
" The Chapmen of the three Lothians formed themselves into an association in 1530 ; and they received a Charter from James IV. for having supplied him with certain ' merks Scots ' for the purpose of helping him to equip his army for Flodden, 1513." This is from an old gazetteer, and another old gazetteer says : " These Chapmen by some means acquired a right to the Cross at Preston in 1636, and the title of descendants to claim it, and a quarter of an acre of ground around it, has never been disputed."
Whether the Chapmen really acquired these rights would be difficult, without "deeds," to determine; but no "deeds" are required to show that the grounds adjacent to the Cross must have been free of access at all times to everyone. Not only were markets held there twice a week during the early centuries, but the Fair of St Jerome was held there annually, on the 2nd Thursday of October. This fair is mentioned as early as 1617, " but," says an old minister of the parish (Rev. J. Trotter), " its saintly designation clearly points to its having existed long before that date. " Perhaps Jerome would be chaplain to the original Chapmen. He would probably hail from Newbattle, and might have been the originator of Preston Fair.
Whatever the origin of the fair, or however early its date, there seems to be no doubt that the Chapmen began to attend it, and held their meetings at the Market Cross in 1636; but it was not for amusement they met in those days.
The annual " fair" day has again arrived. Behold these ancient merchantmen in solemn conclave gathered at the ancient Cross, and listen to their utterings as they rise and fall upon the breeze. There is no grin upon their countenances, no acrimony in their words; because they have not come together with the intention of undermining each other; they have met to arrange their prices, and to settle what profits they will take on the various goods at their disposal, not only at St Jerome's Fair, but throughout the ensuing season.
These were not common " Packmen. " The Packman of our day is a dealer in oddments, who invariably suits his prices and his profits, according to the 'cuteness or the incredulity of his customer.
Upwards of two centuries ago the adjoining villages of Cockenzie, Seton, Pension, Ormiston, Elphinstone, and Tranent had their annual fairs too; not for the benefit of such as now frequent these annual fetes; but the tailors, the shoemakers, and the weavers of the Lothians, were the venders who turned out in those days to dispose of their productions. In these tailors, weavers, etc., we seem to have those who were wont to assemble at St Jerome's Fair, and formed the early Chapmen's Society. In 1796 the number of Packmen who kept horses for going about the country, in order to dispose of their goods, had dwindled, in East Lothian, down to six. The two market days a week had, many years previous to this, been reduced to one, and soon afterwards the markets ceased altogether to be held there.
The fair of St Jerome continued at Preston till 1732. It was then transferred to Salt Preston, where, in 1752, it came to an end; and with the fair of St Jerome died out the original " Incorporation of Chapmen. "
The Incorporation had scarcely breathed its last when a similar institution took its place. This had its headquarters in Edinburgh, and was formed for the most part of clothiers. This new association aspired to be the genuine successor of
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