Tranent, pp.765-767.

[Gazetteer of Scotland Contents]

   TRANENT, a parish in the extreme north-west of Haddingtonshire; bounded on the south, the south-west, and the west by Edinburghshire; on the north-west by Prestonpans; on the north by the frith of Forth; on the east by Gladsmuir and Pencaitland; and on the south-east by Ormiston. Its greatest length, from north to south, is 4½ miles; its greatest breadth is 3 miles; and its superficial extent is 5,415 imperial acres. The surface has the appearance of being almost level, but really rises with a slow gradient and gentle undulations from the frith to the southern boundary, and attains an extreme elevation above sea-level of upwards of 300 feet. Excepting about 50 acres of sandy downs on the coast, and about 100 acres of plantation, the whole area is regularly or occasionally in tillage, and has a finely cultivated aspect. The soil is partly light and sandy, partly reclaimed morass, but chiefly a rich loam, inferior to none in Scotland. The coast, 2¼ miles in extent, has two greenstone-dikes, respectively at Cockenzie and east of Portseaton; but elsewhere it is quite flat, and has a beautiful beach of fine sand. The coal-formation, with its attendant strata, but dislocated and intersected by trap-dikes, lies beneath a large portion of the parish. Coal has been worked in five seams, aggregately from 23 to 26 feet thick, and possibly exists in other and lower seams which have never yet been explored. The seams are mutually conformable, and all form a trough, whose centre is beneath Carlavarock, nearly a mile south-south-east of the village of Tranent, and whose rim or lip comes near or quite to the surface at the distance of from 4 to 8 furlongs from the centre. Other and seemingly detached seams occur beyond this range, but whether a continuation of the seams of this thrown down, or a prolongation of seams lower than the discovered ones of this, or whether entirely independent, has not been ascertained. Owing to the edges of the trough cropping out from the surface, coal was mined here as early as anywhere in Scotland: see HADDINGTONSHIRE. Sandstone is worked in several quarries; and trap is quarried for road-metal. The chief existing mines are at Tranent, Elphingstone, Birsley, and St. Germains; and they send off large quantities through the little sea-port of Cockenzie. Some of the villages and the antiquities are noticed in the articles PORTSEATON, COCKENZIE, SEATON, and MEADOW-MILL: which see. St. Germains, in the north-east, was originally an establishment of the Knights-Templars, and was given by James IV. to King’s college, Aberdeen; but is now the property and the site of the family mansion of David Anderson, Esq., the only resident landowner Bankton-house, formerly the property of Colonel Gardiner, stands 5 furlongs north-west of Tranent; and is still a pretty fair though not large mansion. This devout and brave officer received his death-wound near the west end of Meadow-mill, within a ¼ of a mile of his own house; and he was carried by his servant to the manse, where he soon after expired. His remains were interred in the parish burying-ground, but have not been surmounted or overlaid by any monument. – Elphingstone-tower, a massive, square, baronial erection, stands near the southern boundary; it is said to have been built about the close of the 14th century; and it is agglomerated with a mansion, still inhabited, which was built in 1600. – Falside-castle, situated near the boundary with Inveresk, was an ancient strong fortalice, belonging to the Seaton family, and probably given away to a younger branch, who styled themselves Seaton of Falside. The oldest part of the structure is of high but unknown antiquity, and contains in its stair a curious hiding-place; and even the newer parts are comparatively very old, but are less massive. The castle gave Protector Somerset some trouble on the morning of the battle of Pinkie; and was then burnt, but not very materially damaged. A fierce action was fought by the Scotch and the English cavalry between Falside and Tranent, on the day before the battle of Pinkie; and issued in the discomfiture of the Scotch, and their loss of 1,300 men. – The battle of PRESTONPANS [see that article] was partly fought within Tranent. Sir John Cope’s military-chest was found by the victors at the house of Cockenzie, and there divided by the Pretender among his needy followers. – Half-a-mi!e north of Tranent, and a little south of Meadow-mill, stands Stiell’s hospital. This establishment originated in a bequest by George Stiell, smith and builder in Edinburgh, and a native of Tranent, which yields about £900 a-year, and which maintains as inmates a few boys and girls, and educates about 140 children in a free day-school. The building is a handsome edifice, erected in 1821, from a design by Mr. Burn, at a cost of about £3,000. The institution is under the government of the lord-justice-clerk, the county-sheriff, the parish-minister, and a select body of directors. The parish is traversed by the east mail-road from Edinburgh to London, the road from Edinburgh to North Berwick, and the projected line of the Great North British railway by Berwick, Newcastle, and Durham. Population, in 1801, 3,046; in 1831, 3 620. Houses 740. Assessed property, in 1815, £14,239. – Tranent is in the presbytery of Haddington, and synod of Lothian and Tweeddale. Patron, the Crown. Stipend £295 13s. 5d.; glebe £20. The parish-church was built in 1801. Sittings 912. Cockenzie, Portseaton, and the district around them, have been erected into a quoad sacra parish. The church, situated in Cockenzie, was built in 1838, at a cost of £589. Sittings 452. An United Secession meeting-house, situated in the village of Tranent, and belonging to a congregation established in 1777, was built in 1826, at a cost of £1,463 16s. 8d. Sittings 637. Stipend £120, with £15 for sacramental expenses, and a manse and garden worth upwards of £10. An ecclesiastical survey, in 1836, exhibited the population as then consisting of 2,980 churchmen, 432 dissenters, and 35 nondescripts, – in all, 3,447 persons. – In 1834 the parish-school was attended by 118 scholars, and five other schools by 416. Among the latter was that of Stiell’s hospital, attended by 79 boys and 61 girls. Parochial schoolmaster’s salary £34 2s. 2½d., with about £40 fees, after paying an assistant. – The old parish of Tranent comprehended all Prestonpans, and considerable parts of Pencaitland and Gladsmuir; but did not comprehend the barony or ancient parish of Seaton, which was annexed to it only alter the Reformation. The church was a vicarage under the monks of Holyrood. 

   TRANENT, a large village or small town in the parish just described, is situated on the mail-road between Edinburgh and London, 1½ mile south-east of Prestonpans, 7½ miles west of Haddington, 3½ east of Musselburgh, 6½ north-east of Dalkeith, and 9½ east of Edinburgh. It stands along the brow of a rising ground on the south side of a narrow vale, at the bottom of which is a brook; and had its ancient name of Travernent, abbreviated into Tranent, from three British words which signify the habitation or village at the ravine or vale. It consists principally of a street which extends about ¼ of a mile, from east to west, along the public road; and of a cross street which goes off from the former near its middle, and runs about ¼ of a mile down the declivity to the north. But it is built on no regular plan, is all over dingily tiled, and has a very large aggregate of decayed and mean-looking houses. Its appearance is straggling, care-worn, tasteless, and poor, – miserably out of keeping with the rich aspect of the agricultural country, and the exulting brilliances of the extended landscape, amidst which it lies. Prestonpans and it are very suitable neighbours, and sit like two withered and hag-like cronies flinging splenetic contempt on beauties and adornments which they do not share. But Tranent has recently made some efforts at renovation, and possibly may, years hence, put on a dress becoming a town in the Lothians. The inhabitants are principally persons connected as superintendents or miners with the neighbouring collieries, shopkeepers, tradesmen, and day-labourers. Population 1,780.