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Prestonpans and Vicinity

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his sixpence, four stuffy little wenches were next placed. The fair winner of this race, if we may so describe about as sunburnt a little rustic as ever refused to wear a bonnet, considered herself quite the wonder of the village. Then followed races by lads, then again races by boys, and so on till time was called.
"After all this fun and nonsense came the dinner, preceding which came the election of new members, who must abjure the 'Pope, ' the ' Devil, 'and the 'Pretender. ' New members had also to undergo various measurements for length, breadth, thickness, and weight, deficiencies in anyone of these particulars being made up from the extras in any other. The evening, until the hour for returning, was spent chiefly in seeing and discussing the ' lions' of the district. "
The Corporation of Chapmen during the three hindmost years of their existence presented a silver medal to the best scholar at the Pans Parish School. The first of the three was won in 1855 by Mr David M'Cairn, Prestonpans. The medal of 1856 by Mr Andrew Nimmo, Tranent, and the chief prize of 1857 by Mr Thomas Fysche of Dolphinston.
This fine old Market Cross, or great monumental pillar, is located inside the fruit garden, and only a short distance from the wall on the north side of the avenue leading eastward to Preston Old House. Mr John Wright is tenant of the garden, as his father was before him, and between father and son the tenancy has now gone on for considerably over half a century.
At what period the Cross was erected seems to be wholly unknown. Notes from ancient gazetteers state that the Cross was erected in 1617; some affirm that a date to that effect had at one time been on the building. If so, no date exists upon it now.
The late Mr Drummond, R. S. A., says of Preston Cross, " it is one of the only five which are known to have been built in the same style, the others being those at Edinburgh (destroyed). Perth (destroyed), Dundee (destroyed), and Aberdeen (removed from its old site and much altered). The Cross of Preston is therefore unique in its original beauty and integrity. " Had Mr Drummond been able to fix a date, he would assuredly have done so.
Chalmers in his " Caledonia " says, " that the Chapmen of the Lothians acquired the Cross in 1636, " other writers say that they "acquired a right to the Cross, " but in no case is information given as to who granted the right, and whether it was for a period of years, or in perpetuity.
Sir John, one of the ablest and most influential of all the Hamiltons, was proprietor of the estate in 1636. It is located on the barony of Preston, and if anyone more than another was enabled to grant a right to the Cross, surely it would be the " Lord of the Manor, " and yet his name is never mentioned in connection with the Cross.
This being a regular Market Cross, it would, undoubtedly, during the early centuries stand on public ground; and whether anyone ever did, or could acquire a right, either to the structure itself, or to enclose it, is, to say the least, doubtful; but probably in 1732, when St Jerome's Fair was transferred from Preston to Prestonpans, and when the original corporation of Chapmen ceased to attend the Cross, then the ancient structure would be gathered into privacy.
At this period Lord Grange was proprietor of the barony, and occupied Preston House. We know that he set himself not only to gather together all the scattered lands of the ancient barony into one estate, but to make fanciful gardens and enclosures around him. Further, from several of his actions, he seems to have always worked with a high hand, and he no doubt was the man who enclosed the Cross.
Up till about the year 1840 the Cross was enclosed with a hedge only, and a small ditch ran alongside of it. At that period the ditch was filled up, the hedge removed, and the present stone dyke set up in its stead.
It may not have been right to enclose the ancient and beautiful pillar, but one thing is certain, if it had not been enclosed, and in the careful keeping of such tenants as the Wrights during the last half century, the same might have been written of it long ago as has been written of the market crosses of Edinburgh, Perth, Dundee, and Aberdeen.
The base of the octagonal structure, on which the great monolith still proudly raises its head to the clouds, has recently been strengthened by a layer of cement. Rising about three feet from the base there are six niches round the building, one of these towards the north side \s curiously enough more shallow than the others, but all with one accord are beautifully scalloped, of a cockle-shell pattern—over these, and some nine
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