Hood Family and Coal Mining

Liberton Parish - Old Statistical Account

Old Statistical Account for the Parish of Liberton , Midlothian






Situations, Stipend, &c — In this parish are three villages of the name of Liberton, Kirk Liberton, Nether Liberton, Upper and Over Liberton. The former, about two miles south of Edinburgh, situated, on a rising sloping ground, has a noble prospect, and is nearly in the centre of the parish. In this village is the Church, and ancient building. The patrons are the crown, and Mr Wauchope of Niddry Marshall, per vices. The stipend is 21 bolls, 14 and a half pecks of wheat, 50 bolls of barley, 63 bolls of oats, and L. 23: 11: 3 in money. There has been no augmentation since the year 1700; at that time an addition was agreed of L. 10, which had the appellation of prebends fee. Nothing has allowed for communion elements. The glebe is very inconsiderable, and more than half of it is almost a mile from the manse. In 1630, the total of the tithes of Liberton amounted to 52 chalders, 3 bolls, firlots of victual; the real valuation at present must be 10 times as much. The schoolmaster of Liberton has a salary of about 200 merks, besides 40 merks as Session Clerk, as the interest of a mortification. Besides the public, their are private schools in different places of the parish, for teaching English, arithmetic and writing.


Extent, and Population. — the parish is large, attaining 62 ploughgates of land, which, at the ordinary computation of 45 acres to a ploughgate, gives a total of 4140 statute acres of arable ground. It is more populous than any other country parish in the Presbytery of Edinburgh, that of St Cuthbert's excepted, for souls, whereof 755 reside in Gilmerton. On an average of 20 years preceding 1786, there were 130 baptised, 25 couples married, and 102 buried. For 20 years preceding 1725, the annual average of baptisms was a hundred and 17, Of marriages 20 couples, and of burials 106. The return to Dr Webster in 1755 was 2793 souls, and the inhabitants seem still to be on the increase, on account of the lime works, and the colliery at Gilmerton.


Charitable Funds. — For many years past, the collections at the church doors have amounted at a medium to L. 42 per annum and mortcloths to be L. 22, the rent of houses gardens and seats in the Church belonging to the poor, to L. 21: 7: 4, amounting in whole to L. 85: 7: 4; all which is expended each year. Besides these, L. 5, the interest of a legacy, it is yearly distributed to the distressed and languishing; and L. 40 is bestowed every Christmas, by direction of those who have landed property, on certain poor labourers, whose work is mostly without doors, and who, on that account, may be prevented from working by the severity or inclemency of the season. By the destination of the donor, none are to have more than L. 5 and none less than 50s. per annum. The magistrates of Edinburgh are trustees of this charity, which was a donation of Commodore Alexander Horn, a native of this parish. In the memorably severe year of 1783, poor were supported by the accumulation of a legacy, bequeathed by Sir James Stuart of Goodtrees, formerly his Majesty's advocate for Scotland, in 1713.


Minerals, Occupations of the People. —At Gilmerton there are above 20 seams of coal, from 2, to 10 feet thick; 45 of the seams are working. The limestone quarries at that place yield 70,000 bolls of lime, and employ 35 men, annually; and two other quarries in the parish, have yielded above 30,000 bolls of lime per annum. - There is no place where the poorest sort, who are able or inclined to work, meet with more encouragement than here. Not to mention the draw kiln at Bordeaux; not to mention the collieries; not to mention those who are employed in the public roads, or those whom the farmers are obliged continually to employee, the quarries, the lime kilns, afford work to great numbers. Many also earn their bread by driving of carts, and they live decently, and become independent. There are no fewer than 131 persons in the parish, who, with the families, depend mainly on the driving of carts. They have of late entered into a society, and observe an annual procession. There are not nearly so many in any other line; there being only 30 farmers, 12 Smiths, 14 Masons, 17 weavers, and 12 taylors. A great many of the females are employed in washing of clothes, and find their advantage in it.


Rivulets, rent, &c. — There are two rivulets in the parish which, small as they are, supply no less than eight mills, beside the bleachfield at Peffermill. The grounds of Liberton, in general, independent of the advantages of manure from the city, are as fruitful as any in the neighbourhood. The situation is held healthful, and many arrive to a great age. The valuation of the parish, being the real rent in 1649, is L.13, 685:6:8 Scotch; the real rent present amounts to L.10,000 sterling. The upper part of the inhabitants are sober, regular, exemplary, and have always shown a particular regard to the interests of the poor. The lower sort often noisy and clamorous, and are rather of violent passions, but soon pacified and appeased. The morals in general are not so unexceptionable as could be wished; and no wonder, when they live in the neighbourhood of such a city is Edinburgh.

Miscellaneous observations. — In this parish are the principal seats of two of the two oldest families in Midlothian, the Wauchopes of Niddry Marshall, and the Lords Somerville of Drum; the former having been seated here for more than 400 years, and the latter having acquired the estate of Drum in this parish in 1375 from a marriage, possess it at this day. Craigmillar Castle, a favourite residence of Queen Mary, is in the parish and makes a most venerable appearance.



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