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History of West Calder
Compiled from various sources of information by a Native (1885)


"Breathes there a man with soul so dead
Who never to himself hath said,
This is my own, my native land.”

Scott

INTRODUCTION

In introducing this history in a permanent form to the people of West Calder, the author trusts that they will pardon any mistakes or omissions inadvertently made, either by himself or the publisher, seeing it is our first venture in writing and publishing. At the earnest solicitation of a number of esteemed friends, we have ventured to print 200 copies, fixing the price as low as possible to ensure an immediate sale.

It having been remarked that Chapter 26 closes this history rather abruptly, it may be as well to state that this was simply owing to the exhaustion of the material at hand. Besides, the writer is more interested in the West Calder of the past than the West Calder of to-day, seeing it has fallen to his lot to preserve some records that would otherwise have been lost for ever; whereas, in regard to current events, the recording angels, if I may so call them, are busy at work in their various spheres, taking notes, principal amongst whom is Mr Thomas Thomson, who occupies the responsible offices of Inspector of Poor, Clerk of the Parochial Board, and Registrar of Births, Deaths, and Marriages. Therefore, in these and many other respects, that it is needless to refer to here, the current history of West Calder is in safe keeping; and, while I have neither sought to flatter nor offend, I have endeavoured to present the history and traditions of West Calder in a popular and readable light, and while perfectly aware, as has been publicly suggested, that the history of such an important place might “go on for ever,” surely one, situated as I am, might be permitted a little rest before that period arrives. But, if these Chapters, (the first seven of which appeared in the Hamilton Advertiser in the year 1883, and the whole of them in the West Calder Reporter of 1885), have only created a desire for more instead of supplying a felt want, then all I can meantime say, in medical and clerical parlance is, ‘repeat the dose’, by purchasing and re-reading them, as there are worse things than cauld kail het again.

The history is certainly larger than at first anticipated, and if any institution or interest has been omitted the blame is not mine, as a meeting, duly advertised, was held in the Masons Lodge, on the evening of Friday, 22nd May 1885, for the express purpose of receiving information, when a number of gentlemen attended, and what they reported has been duly recorded. To the Editors of the Hamilton Advertiser and the West Calder Reporter, I am indebted for their courtesy and kindness. And to those who voluntarily aided me in compiling this book, my heartiest thanks are due, assuring them that the old friendships thereby revived, and the new ones formed, will remain a permanent pleasure, while they share the honour of having brought West Calder to the front historically.

DEDICATION

In dedicating this book to the People of West Calder, natives and settlers alike, the writer begs leave to state that its compilation has been to him a literary exercise and labour of love, in order, if possible, to extricate his native place from the obscurity that has hitherto shrouded its history. Such as it is has depended upon the material at hand, and whilst trusting my efforts to treat it in a popular manner, will merit their appreciation, I will venture to subscribe myself in a form once well known to the boys and girls of the old Parochial School where I was educated, first under the genial Rev. Wm. Roxburgh, and then under the sterner Mr David Samuel Walker:—

William Cochrane Learmonth is my name,
And Scotland is my nation;
West Calder is my native place—
A pleasant habitation.

CONTENTS

Preface
Chapter I. Origin
Chapter II. Origin, continued
Chapter III. Planting the Kirk
Chapter IV. Facts and Inferences, 1645 to 1798
Chapter V. & VI Old Statistical Account
Chapter VII. New Statistical Account
Chapter VIII. Family of Badds, &c.
Chapter IX. Commercial and Agricultural Prospects
Chapter X. Beautifying and Improving some Estates
Chapter XI. Poor and Poor Finds, 1799 to 1814
Chapter XII. Population of the Parish
Chapter XIII. Original Parish Banks
Chapter XIV. Interesting Controversy on Parish Banks, with other Historical remarks
Chapter XV. Friendly Societys in 1799 and 1812
Chapter XVI. Old Valuation Rolls
Chapter XVII. Old Will between James Sandilards and his Son-in-Law, James Douglas
Chapter XVIII. Young’s Paraffin Light and Mineral Oil Company (Limited), and the influence of the Paraffin Oil Industry on the Parish of West Calder
Chapter XIX. The Naphta Lamp, Fair Day and Fast Days
Chapter XX. Cobinshaw Reservoir, interesting improvements made on the Lands of Cross Wood Hill, with names commonly given to Plants found on flat Bogs and wet Moors
Chapter XXI. Barony of Marchbanks of that ilk. John Sturrock, Esq., superior
Chapter XXII. Church Statistics of the various Denominations, with an Historical Account of the Ministers thereof, past and present
Chapter XXIII. Educational Statistics and Post Office
Chapter XXIV. Free Masons, Free gardeners, Penny Savings Banks, Gas Company, and Co-operative Store
Chapter XXV. Minerals of the Parish, Lime Works
Chapter XXVI. Odds and Ends

Appendix

Appendix I. Baad’s Family Bible, the oldest Heir Loom in West Calder
Appendix II. Killin Dean
Appendix III. Memoir of the Rev. W. Fleming. A.M., Extracts from
Appendix IV. Amusing Anecdote of Dr Mackersy and Mr Fleming


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