| CHAPTER XXVI.
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,