[Gazetteer of Scotland Contents]
COCKPEN, a parish in the shire of Edinburgh, lying in a south-easterly direction from the metropolis. It has somewhat of an hour-glass outline; and is bounded on the north by the parish of Lasswade; on the east by the parish of Newbattle; on the south by the parish of Carrington; and on the west by the parish of Lasswade. Its extreme measurement from north-east to south-west, is about 3½ miles; and from north to south nearly 3 miles; but its area is only between 3 and 4 square miles. The South Esk enters the parish from the south, intersects it for nearly 1½ mile, and afterwards forms its boundary with the parish of Newbattle. The banks of this river are here steep, bold, and beautifully fringed with natural wood. The surface of the parish is somewhat uneven; but the soil is a strong clay, and is highly cultivated, abundantly luxuriant, and everywhere shaded by enclosures and plantations. Coal is plentiful, and successfully worked; good freestone abounds; and a sort of moss is found whence copperas has been obtained. The parish has consisted, since the 12th century, of the barony of Dalhousie, originally written Dalwolsie. On the left bank of the South Esk, near the point where that river is crossed by a fine bridge, stood the old baronial castle of Dalhousie. This was anciently an imposing edifice, of a square form and turreted; and, encompassed by a strong wall, as well as supplied with other means of defence, was a place of very great strength. Latterly it has been denuded of its fortified dress, and, with some traces of antique appearance, has assumed a modern garb. The ancient family of Ramsay, possessing since 1633 the title of Earls of Dalhousie, have for ages been its proprietors. Sir Alexander Ramsay of Dalhousie, who lived in the 14th century, is celebrated as one of the bravest warriors of that age. His gallant behaviour at the battle of Otterburn is recorded by Froissart. He was appointed by his sovereign warder of the borders; and, out of envy, was treacherously murdered by Douglas of Liddesdale. See CASTLETOWN. The mansion of Cockpen belongs also to the noble family of Ramsay; and is situated among fascinating and romantic scenery. The parish is intersected, as far as Dalhousie Mains, by a branch of the Edinburgh and Dalkeith railway; and contains the extensive gunpowder manufactory of Stobbs. Population, in 1801, 1,681; in 1831, 2,025. Houses 326. Assessed property, in 1815, £6,543. Of the population, 1,140 reside in the villages of Prestonholm, Bonnyrig, and Westmill of Lasswade, the last of which lies so near the church of the coterminous parish of Lasswade that the inhabitants generally prefer it to their own. There are 5 other villages; the population of each of which, however, is under 100. – The parish of Cockpen is in the presbytery of Dalkeith, and synod of Lothian and Tweeddale. Patron, the Earl of Dalhousie. Stipend £157 5s. 3d.; glebe £21. Unappropriated teinds £133 0s. 5d. School-master’s salary between £34 and £35. There are two other schools. Church built in 1820; sittings 625. For several years religious services have been conducted on Sabbath evenings, about once a month, by various dissenters in the village of Bonnyrig, in a schoolhouse capable of containing about 250. During the Scoto-Saxon period Cockpen was a rectory, the patronage of which belonged, as at present, to “the Ramsays of Dalwolsie.” In 1296 Malcolm de Ramsay, the rector, swore fealty to Edward I., who commanded the sheriff of Edinburgh to restore him to his rights. The church of Cockpen seems to have afterwards been granted to a fraternity of Cistertian monks, who held it till the overthrow of popery at the Reformation.