TO JOHN COWAN, ESQ. OF BEESLACK
J. P., D. -L. FOR MIDLOTHIAN
DEAR Mr. Cowan,---I
dedicate to you this little volume, containing a few brief and imperfect
Memorials of the Parish of Penicuik.
To no other could a book
dealing with local matters be so fittingly addressed, for your name is
indelibly associated with all the social, political, and religious
movements of the last fifty years in our Parish.
You are known and will be
remembered as one who, above all others, loved our place and its people,
and whose heart was ever filled with liberal devising for their welfare.
Believe me to remain,
JOHN J. WILSON.
Few parishes in the
Lowlands of Scotland afford scantier materials for the pen of the
historian than that of Penicuik. Situated so near to the metropolis of
Scotland, it might naturally be expected that it would have been the
scene of many stirring events in Scottish story; but such records are
sought for in vain.
It lay away from the
usual paths of invading armies, and it possessed no rich churches or
monasteries to tempt the sacrilegious towards it for plunder. In old
times the feudal aristocracy were not, with one exception, men who made
any mark in the history of their country, and the place of their abode
is undistinguished in son; or story. But while there have been no bloody
battles lost or won within its borders, or deeds of heroism done by any
of her sons to chronicle, these pages will, I trust, prove that there is
much in the history of Penicuik parish, civil and ecclesiastical, that
will be of abiding interest to those who can claim it as their
birthplace or their home. To many scattered over the world the memory of
our village, its river, and the overshadowing hills, must be sweet as an
old song. If amidst the palm groves, or the prairies, or the busy marts
of other lands, the perusal of these brief annals afford to any an hour
or two of pleasant reflection, and strengthen their attachment to the
old home from which they first started upon `Life's long race,' the
author will be satisfied ; for his purpose in writing this book will, to
a large extent, have been gained.
The matter contained in
these Annals has been taken from many sources. The following list
contains the names of only a few of the authorities consulted :óRegister
of the Great Seal, Calendar of Documents relating to Scotland,
Pitcairn's Criminal Trials, Register of the Privy Council, Exchequer
Rolls, Acts of Parliaments of Scotland, Woodrow, Statistical Accounts of
Scotland, Reports of the Society of Antiquaries, Rotuli Scotiae,
Chalmers's Caledonia, various publications of the Bannatyne, Abbotsford,
and Spalding Clubs, Origines Parochiales (Innes), Forsyth's Beauties of
Scotland, Foedera, Dalkeith Presbytery Records, Penicuik Parish Session
Records, etc. etc.
I have been much indebted
to local friends for freely communicating to me their recollections of
past times. I should be ungrateful if I did not also acknowledge the
kindness and courtesy of Dr. Dickson of the Register House; James T.
Clark, Esq., of the Advocates Library; and J. M. Gray, Esq., Curator of
the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. I would not be unmindful of the
willing assistance I ever received in the Edinburgh Subscription Library
from its esteemed librarian, Mr. George M'Whea; and, above all, do I
tender my best thanks to the Rev. Alexander Thomson Grant of the
Parsonage, Leven, for many valuable contributions from his stores of
historical and antiquarian lore, sent me at a time when I did not myself
know the sources from which trustworthy information could be obtained.
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