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Prestonpans and Vicinity

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Bankton House — Early Proprietors — Monks of Newbattle —Lords Lothian—Morison of Prestongrange—Sir Thomas Seton—The Hamiltons—Thomas Hamilton—James, the Sheriff of Haddington—Major Thomas Hamilton Wrecked—Colonel Gardiner—Lord Bankton — Bankton's Bequest—Colonel M'Douall, A. K. M'Douall, Dolphinstone, etc. —Preston Links,etc. —Opening of the Original Coalfields.
BANKTON HOUSE is situated in the parish of Tranent, and the good folks all around are proud of the old home of Colonel Gardiner. It is a charming spot, and the genial tenant, Mr James D. Taylor, makes the grounds in its neighbourhood a pleasing resort for thou- sands during the holiday season. But although the mansionhouse is in the parish of Tranent, a good part of the estate lies in the parish of Prestonpans, and must be noticed here.
The present house may not be wholly the original building, but that the lower part of it is seems not to be doubted; and that the part, however much or little, which belonged to the original building was erected during the latter part of the twelfth or the beginning of the thirteenth centuries, need scarcely be disputed.
We know that when De Quincy granted the monks of Newbattle the lands of Preston, he also gave them six acres of his meadows, etc., in the manor of Tranent. These meadow lands stretch along by Bankton House on by Meadowmill, etc. More than likely these monks would form a grange and have a meeting-place here too, but on a smaller scale than at Preston.
The name of the original building was " Holy Stop, " which means, say ancient authorities, the place where during the procession of the monks from Preston to Newbattle a halt was made with the Host.
Other authorities say it was not Holy Stop but Holy Step, and that the step meant is one at an ancient well, still at Bankton, from which these holy friars drew their supply of water. One thing is certain, a habitation was formed here at a very early period.
1 hat Bankton, like Prestongrange, remained territory connected with the Abbey of Newbattle till the monks became merged in the Lords of Lothian is evident, for it is recorded that Morison became proprietor of Prestongrange in 1609 through purchase from Mark Kerr, a lord of Lothian, and some years afterwards (1632) Sir Alexander Morison of Prestongrange also purchased Bankton, then Holy Stop, from the same proprietor. Shortly afterwards the property came into possession of the house of Seton. This must have been in 1645, when Morison's estates were sequestrated and sold.
Lord Kingston, second son of George, third Earl of Winton, writing of that house in 1687, says regarding his uncle Sir Thomas Seton, fourth son of Robert first Earl of Winton, " that he was provided by his father to the lands of Holiestop, now vulgo Olivestob. " The property soon, however, passed from the Setons into one of the many branches of the house of Hamilton, and this, it is understood, was through inter-marriage between these two great houses.
Of the Olivestob branch of the Hamiltons, several are honourably mentioned in home and foreign affairs. Colonel Thomas Hamilton, a younger brother of the family here, served for a time in the Swedish army. On returning in 1670 he became eminent as a merchant, and in time became a magistrate of Edinburgh, and before long is found calling the magistrates to account for sundry monies (see " Fountainhall's Decisions, " etc. ). He was appointed Lieutenant-Colonel of the Edinburgh regiment, raised by the Estates of Scotland in Convention 1688. —(Records of Town Council of Edinburgh. )
This same Thomas became proprietor of Olivestob shortly after 1688, through purchase from his eldest brother, William Hamilton, who left no issue. His eldest son James, who also had become a soldier and gone abroad, was wounded at the " Siege of Namur, " carried on successfully by King William in person in 1695.
Mr James Hamilton, son of Thomas, proprietor after the peace 1697, studied Civil Law at Leyden, and was admitted Advocate 1703. He became Sheriff of Haddington by Commission from Queen Anne till 1715. He was brother-in-law to Lord Grange of Preston.
A son of James, Major Thomas Hamilton of Olivestob,

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