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Prestonpans and Vicinity

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"It was a black Parliament, " he said, "for iniquity was seated in the high court of justice, and had trodden equity under foot. It was a black Parliament, for the arch-traitors had escaped; escaped, did he say, no, they were absolved ! and now all good men might prepare themselves for darker days; trials were at hand. It had ever been seen that the absolving of the wicked imported the persecution of the righteous; let us pray that the king, by some sanctified plague, may be turned again to God. "
The new proprietor, Lord Lothian, did not long enjoy his estate, and his immediate successor seems to have been in a most indecent hurry to get the burden off his shoulders; for in 1609 we find, "After the decease of the first Earl of Lothian, Mark Kerr, a Lord of Lothian, disposed of the estate to John Morison. " This was the same Mark Kerr, the commendator, who not only refused to assist Davidson in building a church, but actually refused him liberty to bury one of his parishioners in the old churchyard, " because it was a private burial ground. " It was at this juncture, we understand, that Davidson told Mark Kerr " he would not long enjoy these lands. "
In Scot of Scotstarvet's "Staggering State of the Scots Statesmen, " we find this remarkable story respecting the family of Newbattle. " Playfair, a notable warlock of that period, on being taken prisoner in Dalkeith steeple, whither he had fled for refuge, made several confessions to Archibald Simpson, minister there, amongst which was, that Mark, the commendator of Newbattle, had by his wife, the Lord Herries' daughter, thirty-one children. His lady always kept in her company wise women or witches, and especially one Margaret Nues, who fostered his daughter, the Lady Borthwick, and was, long after his death, burnt in Edinburgh for witchcraft; and my Lady Lothian's son-in-law, Sir Alexander Hamilton, told one of his friends how one night, lying in Prestongrange, pertaining to the said Abbey of Newbattle, he was pulled out of his bed by the said witches and sore beaten, of which injury, when he complained to his mother-in-law, and assured her he would complain thereof to the council, she pacified him by giving him a purse full of gold. That lady thereafter, being vexed with a cancer in her breast, implored the help of the notable warlock above mentioned, who condescended to heal her, but with condition that the sore should fall on them which she loved best; whereunto, she agreeing, did convalesce; but the carl, her husband, found the boil of which he died shortly thereafter; and the said Playfair, being soon apprehended, was made prisoner as above. " Poor Mark Kerr! It would almost seem that Davidson, when
he prophesied his downfall, had been in league with the
John Morison was an Edinburgh gentleman, but, on becoming proprietor, became resident at Prestongrange. He was succeeded by his son, Sir Alexander Morison, who became a Lord of Session in 1626, and assumed the title of Lord Prestongrange. In the "Senators of the College of Justice" he is thus referred to (page 275): "Alexander Morison, son of John Morison, one of the Bailies of Edinburgh, by Katherine, daughter of Sir John Preston, Lord President. " Being bred to the bar, he was admitted advocate on the 25th January 1604, and an Ordinary Lord on the 14th February 1626. Lord Prestongrange was elected Rector of the University of Edinburgh 1627, and attended before the Town Council to give his oath de fideli; but, according to Crawford, nothing more came of it. He died at Prestongrange on the 20th September 1631, in the fifty-second year of his age.
Sir Alexander Morison was succeeded by his son Alexander, who seems to have been best known simply as the Laird of Prestongrange; and yet he would seem to have been knighted too, like his father, for in Scott's "Fasti, " he is, in church matters, always referred to as Sir Alexander. He was highly honoured at the beginning of his career, being elected first member of Parliament for East Lothian under the united Crowns of England and Scotland. Andrew Fletcher of Saltoun was his opponent, and the contest was a stiff one; but the government of the day supported Morison, and he carried the seat by nine votes.
The Morisons, on acquiring the estate of Prestongrange, had become chief patrons of the church, for in 1642 we find Sir Alexander using his right by presenting Robert Ker to the living, "whose ordination was the first in Scotland since Episcopacy was established, " and in 1648 he also presented John Oswald, from the Tolbooth Church in Edinburgh, to the Parish Church of Prestonpans.
In 1682 Sir William Hamilton of Preston and Sir Alexander Morison of Prestongrange were both fined by Privy Council, the former because he laughed at a riot going on at the church because the minister refused to take the test of 1681, and the latter, being patron, for not trying to prevent the disturbance; and in 1701 we find Sir Alexander at litigation with the parishioners, through trying to force an obnoxious minister upon them.
Morison was originally very wealthy, and possibly his wealth
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