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The History of the Linlithgow and Stirlingshire Hunt 1775-1910
Chapter VIII.
The Union


WHEN the Linlithgow and Stirlingshire Hunt came to be without a master in consequence of the retirement of Colonel Gillon, it so happened that the Lothian, i.e., East Lothian, Hunt was placed in a similar position through the resignation of Captain, now Sir Alexander, Kinloch of Gilmerton. Before entering into the circumstances attending the temporary union of these Hunts, which was resolved upon in the spring of the year 1869, it will be convenient to look back on the history of the hunting of the East Lothian or Haddingtonshire country which, up to this point, has only been referred to casually. As already mentioned, this district, in the end of the eighteenth and beginning of the nineteenth century, had pertained to the old Lothian, now the Duke of Buccleuch's Hunt, under the management of Mr Robert Baird of Newbyth and the fifth Duke of Buccleuch, but later, in the year 1833, had been lent by his Grace, with the use of his kennels at Amisfield, to the Earl of Wemyss, then Lord Elcho, who for ten seasons hunted it along with the Duns country in Berwickshire. In 1843, when his lordship accepted the Northumberland country, that of East Lothian was taken over, with the approval of the Duke, by Mr W. R. Ramsay of Barnton, and hunted in conjunction with the Linlithgow and Stirlingshire country until 1848. Between 1848 and 1853 the country appears to have remained vacant, but in the latter year an arrangement was effected whereby the Fife hounds, of which the Earl of Rosslyn was then master, visited it periodically during the two following seasons. At that time foxes were scarce, and so difficult was it to find one, that Lord Rosslyn was induced to turn to Kilduff wood, almost the only reliable covert, upon six consecutive hunting days, on each of which he fund, a circumstance which may have given rise to the story that, whatever happened to be the fixture, his lordship, after a little formal drawing, would exclaim, This is all rot, let us go to Kilduiff"

The termination of the arrangement with Lord Rosslyn and the existence of a very general desire that in the future the country should be hunted by a pack of hounds of its own led led to the establishment, in 1855, of the second or East Lothian Hunt. Nr John Fletcher of Saltoun was the first master of the pack, and continued to hold that position until the year 1860, when he succeeded Mr Montagu in the control of the South Berks Hunt. The good work which he had begun was then taken up and carried on by Sir David Baird of Newbyth and Sir Alexander Kinloch, who showed excellent sport during the eight seasons in which they were associated in the mastership. Probably two circumstances aided them not a little in their labours,—the acquisition at the outset of some good hounds, and their happy choice of a huntsman. For those hounds which were bought at Captain Percy Williams' sale on his giving up the Rufford country proved the making of the Lothian pack, and although the purchase involved a considerable outlay, it was never regretted by either of the joint-masters. Of the dog-hounds, Carver, Harmattan and Herald, all good in their work and to look upon, were the best; while Bracelet who, among the bitches, found most favour, was so much coveted by Captain Williams' successor that he offered to give in exchange for her any two and a-half couples of his bitch pack. Nor did either Sir David or Sir Alexander ever rue the day on which they enlisted the services of John Atkinson, whose name, through his ability as a huntsman, uprightness and honesty of character and kindliness of disposition, recalls fond memories to many of the sportsmen connected with the three Scottish packs which he hunted in turn—the Lothian, the Lothians, and the Linlithgow and Stirlingshire.

In 1868 Sir David Baird was compelled, in consequence of the state of his health, to retire from the management, leaving the entire charge to his colleague, Sir Alexander Kinloch, who continued alone for one season, but at its close intimated his resignation, just about the time when, as already stated, Colonel Gillon gave up the Linlithgow and Stirlingsh ire country.

To fill satisfactorily the vacancies thus created was no easy matter, and the supporters of both Hunts therefore met in common council, believing that in doing so they would best arrive at the most advantageous arrangement possible for the future hunting of the two countries. Within a short time it was decided that, subject to the approval of the landed proprietors and owners of coverts, an endeavour should he made to hunt the entire district with one establishment, in consequence of which resolution Atkinson was engaged as huntsman, and the refusal of the Golfhall kennels was secured. As yet, however, no master had been found, and it was not until after the Earl of Haddington, then Lord Binning, Captain Sandilands, and Colonel M'Barnet of Torridon had been asked, asked, but without success, to undertake the management, that Mr H. W. Hope of Luffness intimated his willingness to do so. The acceptance of Mr Hope's offer was the beginning of a new era in the history of the hunting of the Lothians, for with it the Lothian Hunt became extinct, never to be resuscitated, while once more the Linlithgow and Stirlingshire temporarily ceased to exist, and the white collar, which in the Hunt's infancy had adorned its scarlet, and at this period had "braved the battle and the breeze" without interruption for close on half a century, gave place to the blue of the Lothians Hunt. Mr Hope undertook to hunt the combined countries three days a week for one season, the subscription to be 1800 and the master to be relieved of all expenses connected with coverts and damages; and at his suggestion there were formed, in addition to a large general committee, a covert and also a finance committee for each of the three Lothians, and a finance committee for the city of Edinburgh, Mr T. E. O. Home being appointed honorary secretary and treasurer. The negotiations with Mr Hope, however, very nearly broke over his stipulation that he should be relieved of claims for damages - those who were deputed to treat with him being of opinion that hundreds of pounds would not satisf these if they were gone into in the manner he suggested. But in this they were wrong, since, during the two seasons in which Mr Hope remained in office, all claims were investigated and settled for the small sum of about 30.

The territory of the Lothians Hunt was an extensive one, for it embraced not only the Linlithgow and Stirlingshire and East Lothian countries, but also a considerable part of the Duke of Buccleuch's Dalkeith and Stow country which was now lent by his Grace to Mr Hope. In other words, the area overtaken reached from Dunbar in East Lothian to Falkirk in West Lothian, and from Edinburgh to Stow in Mid-Lothian, being thus between fifty and sixty miles in length, and between twenty and thirty in breadth. In order to hunt so large a tract of country thoroughly, a strong pack was essential, and by the commencement of the ensuing season, the kennels at Golfhall were occupied by over fifty couples of working hounds. These consisted partly of Colonel Gillon's pack, which, after being advertised for sale,' had been purchased by Mr Hope, partly of the Lothian pack, which, although then still belonging to a few members of the Lothian Hunt, was eventually acquired by the master, and partly of drafts from Lord Middleton's, the Cotswold, the Shropshire, and other kennels ; while, later, further drafts were obtained chiefly from the Atherstone, the Berkeley, Mr Meynell Ingram's, and the Duke of Beaufbrt's.

In the hunting of so large a district from one kennel, long distances to covert were inevitable, and Mr Hope introduced the use of a hound-van by which the Hunt servants and the pack were conveyed to the more distant fixtures. By this means, and through the division of the Hunt horses into two lots, one of which was stabled at Golfhall and the other at Easter Duddingston, near Portobello, much of the tear and wear which would otherwise have resulted, was saved. But although Mr Hope eased the establishment in this manner, he did not spare himself, and during his mastership travelled great distances both before and after hunting, and frequently in the saddle. To ride from Luffliess to some fixture in the west of Linlithgowshire before drawing covert is a performance which would probably not be readily undertaken by the great majority of the hunting men of the present day, yet Mr Hope accomplished such journeys, and, in so doing, evinced his energy and powers of endurance. It was often dark when he left home in the morning, and dark again, or nearly so, before he reached the kennels in the evening, after which he frequently rode on alone through Edinburgh to Luffness, a distance of twenty-one miles.

The first notable run during Mr Hope's mastership took place on the 13th of November (1869), when the hounds met at Saltoun old kennels in East Lothian. After a turn or two round the covert at Windy-Mains, "the property of that staunch supporter of fox-bunting, Lord Hopetoun," hounds broke towards Costerton park, but swinging to the left, crossed the water, and carried on by the red scar to Blackshiels glen, where the fox was headed. From this they ran a ring by Fala Hall and the farm of Upper Keith, eventually taking the line back to Blackshiels glen. On leaving it for the second time they went away by Fala Flow to Soutra hill, then bending to the right, crossed Dun Law, and ran on by Gilston, Brotherstone, Nether Brotherstone, and Clintsthe field gradually becoming more and more select, ill of the pace, the boggy ground, and the distance traversed. From Clints the line lay by Middle Town and Nether Town to Troquhaii on Gala Water, where hounds pulled down their fox after a chase of two hours and twenty minutes. The distance from point to point is stated at thirteen miles, and as hounds ran, at not less than seventeen, while out of a field of fifty, only about ten, including Atkinson and one of the whippers in, were present at the finish.' This run was the precursor of many others almost equally good, among which may be mentioned one from a fixture at Ecclesmachan village on the 17th of February (1870). The coverts lying to the south of Nancy's hill held a fox which hounds pursued, with only one slight check, over much of the best of the Linlithgow and Stirlingshire country, running by the Braes o' Mar, Little Ochiltree, Hangingside, Ochiltree mill, Longmuir, the Riccarton hills, Wairdlaw, B'ormie. Cockleroi, and Lochcote, to Wallhouse Desert, thence across the Avon into Stirlingshire, and by Muiravonside to Manuel House, where they marked to ground in a drain under the avenue. The time is stated to have been one hour and thirty-five minutes, during which the pack was only once handled, while the distance traversed must have been fully fourteen miles.

The Marquis of Queensberry, who, with Joe Graham as his huntsman, was showing excellent sport in Dumfriesshire about this time, had a day with the Lothians Hounds in the beginning of the year 1870, and experienced all the unpleasantness of getting "bogged." His lord- ship's visit was quickly followed by an invitation to Mr Hope to bring his hounds to Dumfriesshire, and this having been accepted, the pack, accompanied by Mr James Hope, Easter Duddingston, and the Hunt servants, travelled to Lockerbie by an early train on the 7th of February, met at Castlemilk, hunted, and returned home in the evening. The sport does not appear to have been of a high order, but the presence of one pack of hounds in the country of another being an event out of the common, the incidents of the day are commemorated in verse.

Afterwards, Lord Queensberry brought his hounds north to have a day in the Lothians country, but a hard frost set in overnight, and hunting was found to be impossible.

Mr Hope possesses memorials of his term of office which probably outrival in completeness those of any other master whose reign falls within the scope of this history,—documents of every description, including even the cards intimating the fixtures and lists of the individual hounds taken into the field on each particular hunting day, having been carefully preserved. Of all these records, not the least interesting is Mr hope's hunting diary, in two volumes, neatly kept for him by the late Mr Alexander Scott who, for many years, was secretary at Hopetoun House and was himself a good sportsman. This, besides chronicling the sport during the seasons of 1869 and 1870, gives many interesting particulars. It shows that—exclusive of cub-hunting, of which there is no record—twelve and a half brace of foxes were killed in the first of these seasons and fourteen brace in the second; that notwithstanding the large pack in kennel, Mr Hope was somewhat short of hounds in the spring of 1871, and had to borrow five couples from Forfar- shire and the same number from Fife; and that on the 12th of April of the same year, the young hounds were judged by Lord Wemyss, Sir Thomas Erskine of Cambo, and Mr Andrew Fletcher of Saltoun. Other names, chiefly those of hunting visitors, occur from time to time, and in addition to Lord Queensberry, who has already been referred to, Lord Melville, Mr Adrian Hope, Captain Reynardson, Colonel Dundas, and Lord and Lady Morton are mentioned as having been out hunting on one side of the country or the other. The diary also speaks of the occasional use of the "Hunt special"; of not leaving off hunting till quite dark; and of Mr Hope's long rides to covert:-

1870. Feb. 8. Haddington.—Hounds by 7 A.M. train. Self rode from Edinburgh.
1870. Dec. 1. Bangour.—From Archerfield, 7.35 A.M., at Bangour, 10.45 A.M., with four hacks.
1871. Mch. 9. Westwood.—Self rode from Edinburgh and back.

When Mr Hope retired in 1871, he was presented with a silver and gold cup as a token of the appreciation felt by the subscribers to the Hunt of his management as master, for, although his term of office had been a short one and, according to his own statement, considerable help had been received by him from Mr James Hope, Mr T. E. 0. Home, and Mr Alexander Scott, he had hunted the country with much energy and success, and on a scale of liberality approaching magnificence. The presentation was made in Slaney's hotel in Edinburgh, on the 5th of April, when Colonel Shairp of Houstoun acted as spokesman for the subscribers.

The fact that Mr Hope had resolved to resign his mastership at the end of the season had been known for nearly a year prior to the date of the presentation, and for quite eight months before a meeting of the Hunt held on the 18th of January 1871, when, no new master having been found to hunt the whole territory as it had been hunted during the two preceding seasons, Mr Hope suggested that the district should be curtailed by giving up that part of it lying to the east of the eastern boundary of the Duke of Buccleuch's Dalkeith country, and that the remainder should be hunted under a committee of management three days a - week. This recommendation, although ultimately adopted, did not at first meet with general approval, and it was agreed to disjoin the two countries,—the Linlithgow and Stirlingshire and the East Lothian —and hunt them separately as before, Sir David Baird and Mr Hope being deputed to inform the Duke of Buccleuch of this resolution, and to request him to draw a line of boundary between the two Hunts in Mid-Lothian. Sir David and Mr Hope, however, considering that the Duke would probably prefer not to be asked to interfere, took upon themselves the responsibility of inviting the late Colonel Anstruther Thomson, then for the third time master of the Atherstone Hounds, to act as arbiter, and of laying the matter before him. The various points referred to Colonel Thomson may be gathered from his decision, which was couched in the following terms:-


The Linlithgow and Stirlingshire and the East Lothian were two distinct Hunts previous to 1869. They were then united under one master, who was bound to hunt the whole of both countries.

On his resignation (unless the union has existed twenty years) either Hunt is at liberty to make any new arrangement for itself.

According to the rule of Masters of Hounds' Committee at Boodles, twenty years constitutes a right of possession.

The boundaries of the respective Hunts are the same as they were before the union.

According to the boundaries marked on Mr hope's map, part of the old Dalkeith country lies between the Linlithgow and Stirlingshire and East Lothian countries. If this is to be divided, I think Stow and Carfrae Mill should belong to East Lothian, Penicuik, &c., to Linlithgow and Stirlingshire; but I am not sufficiently well acquainted with the country to define the exact boundary.

Either Hunt, whether they have hounds of their own or not, may lend part of their country, on the express undertaking that it is to be restored when required.

ATHERSTONE, February 22, 1871.

Soon after Colonel Thomson's verdict had been received, it was ascertained that there was no prospect of the Lothian Hunt being reorganised, and then, but not till then, the Duke of Buccleueh was formally applied to for a loan of the Dalkeith country. This, under reservation of Dalkeith park, which had never previously been included in lending the country, was readily given by his Grace, and arrangements were accordingly made for the hunting of the Lothians Hunt territory as curtailed in the manner suggested by Mr Hope. Under these arrangements a committee, consist- big of Mr Hope, Colonel Shairp, Colonel Gillon, Colonel M'Barnet, Captain Wauchope, younger of Niddrie, and Mr James Hope, Easter Duddingston, was formed for the purpose of carrying on the Hunt for the next two seasons or until a master willing to take the sole responsibility could be obtained,—Mr James Hope agreeing to act as master both in the kennel and in the field, and to hunt the country three days a- week, with a subscription of 1500 and relief of covert-rents, damages, &c.

During the existence of the Lothian Hunt, first under the mastership of Mr Fletcher, and afterwards under that of Sir David Baird and Sir Alexander Kinloch, Mr James Hope had taken an active interest in the hunting of the }Iaddingtonshire country, and when the union with the Linlithgow and Stirlingshire Hunt was effected, he increased rather than diminished his efforts on behalf of the Runt and in the cause of sport. Throughout these changes Mr Hope had "bided his time," as he expresses it, and now that this time had come, put his shoulder to the wheel more strenuously than before in order to accomplish in a satisfactory manner the work he had undertaken. His term of office, which lasted for six seasons, may be characterised as a reign of sport; and although he derived considerable assistance and support from his fellow members of committee, and at first doubtless reaped no little benefit from the labours of his predecessor in office, Mr Hope of Luffness, who had initiated the system of hunting the three Lothians as one country, it is probably no exaggeration to state that the ultimate success of his mastership was entirely clue to his own energy, good management, and sportsmanlike conduct of affairs.

As has been indicated, Mr Hope of Luffness had been at some pains in getting together a good working pack of hounds. This he generously placed at the disposal of the Hunt committee until the following spring (1872), when the hounds were purchased from him by Colonel Shairp, Colonel Gillon, Colonel M'Barnet, Captain Wauchope, and Mr James Hope.' To endeavour to keep the pack up to a proper standard was a pleasure to the new master as well as a duty, and in addition to the hounds bred at home, many useful drafts were procured by him from time to time, although none proved to be of more value than that which year after year found its way from Badminton to Golfhall—a present from the Duke of Beaufort to his brother sportsman in the north.

Unlike Mr Hope of Luffness, Mr James Hope has preserved no records of his time. Fortunately, however, there were several sportsmen, such as Mr William Blackwood, Mr T. E. O. Home, and Mr Charles Murray Barstow who, through the medium of the newspapers, helped to chronicle the sport enjoyed at this period. Both Mr Blackwood and Mr Home had good horses, and when the former was riding Lady Emma, Captain Hicks, or Primrose, and the latter Bondy or Jumbo, they were generally there or thereabouts when hounds ran. After any particularly good day's hunting they would dine together for the purpose of writing an account of it, in order that this might appear in print on the following morning; and Mr Thomas Horne, Mr T. E. 0. Home's son, tells how the composition of these accounts used to amuse him, for on such occasions both sportsmen were generally tired and sleepy. Mr Blackwood usually took the pen, but seemed to have considerable difficulty iii beginning, for after looking thoughtfully at the paper before him for some time, he would ask, "How shall I start?" "Well, wouldn't you mention where hounds met?" "All right, I've got that; what shall I put next?" " Oh, then, I think I'd say where they found"—and so on to the end; a result satisfactory to both being arrived at only after a long sederunt.

During the spring of the year 1872, Mr Barstow contributed to 'The Edinburgh Courant' a series of Letters, afterwards reprinted in book form. These, as the preface to the reprint bears, were written merely with a view to amusing the author and his younger compeers, but they are none the less interesting as records of sport; while the following passage, which occurs in the last of the series, reveals divertingly the writer's sense of satisfaction with his own performances in the field:-

"It was now put to me by the master why, celebrating the deeds of others, I have hidden myself so entirely. My answer was, 'Of their own merits modest men are dumb.' But this should not close my mouth against a word in favour of my brown mare, Lady Lorne. . . . She made good her character to the admiration of many, and refreshed mine, though it was never much tarnished by long tear and wear. She kept me in first flight from find to finish, as was well seen and much remarked."

The words in italics are underlined in the Minute- book, and opposite them, in the handwriting of Mr T. E. O. Home, is the amusing comment "Oh Barstow, you Trumpeter!" But it is might to mention that although the "Old Sportsman" plumed himself in this way, he really rode to hounds very well considering his years, and did generously commemorate the doings of others. Thus he tells of Mr Blackwood's well-known leap on Lady Emma over the railway gates near Drumshoreland, describing the circumstances as follows:-

"This [a branch railway] was enclosed by a high and strong wire fence utterly 'unnegotiable.' There was a level crossing, but shut off by a high and strong white-painted gate on either side of the rail. Not probably thinking of the danger, one of our very determined riders went at the gate over on to the rails. His mare flew it beautifully —many anticipating a heavy fall; but over again he went the opposite gate also, landing from both safely. Had the mare touched the gate either with fore or hind legs, she must have brought herself as well as rider to grief. But he had confidence in his mare and she did not disappoint him."

In point of fact, Mr Blackwood dismounted after jumping the first gate, hoping to be able to open the second, but finding this impossible, remounted, and then jumped it also after the delay thus occasioned—a circumstance which very much enhances the performance. Mr Barstow also graphically relates how on one occasion, when both Atkinson and the first whipper-in, Harry Wells, were laid up, George Tait, the kennelman, acted as huntsman.

"This day [25th January, 18721 commenced with a very amusing turnout. Atkinson, having a careful wife, had been vaccinated to preserve his good looks. His arm swelled the size of his leg, and he could not get upon his horse. Harry, the first whip, was laid up with a bad cold and sore throat, caught looking after the lost hounds amongst the Moorfbot hills. The second whip was to the fore, but as no one was there whom the hounds would recognise, George, the kennelman, was mounted. A capital figure! A very tall man, clad in grey, wearing a hunting cap to distinguish his calling. He rode with long legs and very short stirrups, his knees up to his nose, and his heels spurring almost the back of his horse, instead of its flanks; and spur away he did to try to keep the hounds together, who very soon discovered their chief was wanting. What a splendid caricature might have been drawn of 'Ye Lothians Hounds and their Huntsman!'

Towards the end of the year 1874 Mr Hope intimated his resignation. The following letters' which he received at the time from Colonel Anstruther Thomson and Lord Haddington indicate the high estimation in which he was held by these well-known sportsmen, and perhaps tended to induce him to reconsider his decision:-

6th December [1874].

MY DEAR HOPE,—I am sorry to hear that you meditate resigning at the end of the season. I hope you won't, for you do more for sport than any master I have seen there, or am likely to see. . —Ever yours truly,

December 10th, 1874.

MY DEAR HOPE —I am extremely sorry to hear that you have determined to give up the mastership of the Lothians Hounds, and I only hope that you may still change your mind and go on a "bit" longer. . . .—I remain, Yours very truly, HADDINGTON.

Eventually Mr Hope did change his mind, for he continued in office until the end of the season of 1876, the only alteration in the previous arrangement being that the subscription was increased to 1800 -1700 guaranteed,—and that the Stow country was given up to a great extent.

It is almost impossible to tell from the perusal of a number of descriptions of runs with hounds, which represents what was really the best hunt, for an inferior run may be "puffed" in such a way as to make it appear equal to or even better than a superior one simply and truthfully recorded. As regards the many runs chronicled during the seasons 1871 to 1876, - a time when sport was above the average, and second only perhaps to that which signalised the mastership of Mr W. R. Ramsay,—Mr Hope, who is well qualified to speak, states that he considers that those after described or referred to may be classed among the best. In his first season, on the 29th of February 1872, hounds met at Ecclesmachan, and, finding in the covert near the village, went away at once and at a great pace by Drumforth to the Braes o' Mar. Touching the covert there they bent westwards, crossed the road leading to Bridge-end, and ran as if for the badger-earths at Champfleurie, but, just skirting the young covert on the side of the Haugh burn, wheeled almost at a right angle, and leaving Wester Ochiltree on their left, reached the base of Riccarton hill. The pace up to this point had been very severe, and the fox, instead of facing the steep incline in front of him, turned towards Beecraigs,—hounds thro\vb ig their tongues freely as they drove forward on the old grass. From Beecraigs they stretched away over the plough to Hillhouse quarries, and running the farm-road down to the Preston park-wall, continued along the northern side of Coekleroi, through Williamscraig, the Kettleston plantations, and Belsyde, to Woodcockdale cottage, where they crossed the Avon. On the Stirling- shire side of the river they dwelt a little in the wooded banks of the Union canal, but almost immediately ran on, threading the Muiravonside policies from east to west, and going away again on the far side from Bowhouse, over the farm of Redford, and thence to Torphichen bridge, where the first and only check occurred. But Atkinson was at hand to help his hounds, and when he cast them, they recovered the line and carried it up the banks of the river to the old steel or spade mill at Crawhill, beyond which they could no longer own it, and a fine run ended somewhat unsatisfactorily. The distance from point to point is stated to have been about nine miles, and at least twelve as hounds ran ; the time, from the find to the check at Torphichen bridge, one hour and ten minutes.

Meeting at Torwood in Sirlingshire, on the 11th of January 1873, Mr Hope was told that he might find a fox, but that it would take him all day to get him away from the covert, a wood of some five hundred acres in extent. Nevertheless, a fox was found at once, and before man and horse were well away, the pack was racing, with a burning scent, over the open towards West Plean. The country being strange to all and strongly fenced, it was no easy matter to live with hounds at the pace at which they were travelling, and after twenty minutes hard riding they were completely lost sight of. Information received from a ploughman, however, enabled Atkinson to get to them, and put them on the line, when, after a little slow hunting, they again ran at a good pace over a beautiful although stiff line of country, until, at the end of an hour and ten minutes they pulled their fox down, in the open, close to the historic plain of Bannockburn.

From Cliftonhall to Torebanehill cannot be said ever to have been a usual line, and it is one which would now be almost impossible; yet on the 13th of November 1873, hounds accomplished the journey at a fair pace over all, while at times they ran fast. In Sir Alexander Maitlands coverts, three foxes were on foot, and after one of these had been run to ground, another, which had been seen to cross the Almond, was pushed up from a gorse on the western bank of the river. The line,—to which hounds settled well,—lay by Illiston, Amondell, Drurnshoreland wood, Pumpherston coverts, Bustoun wood, Howden, Livingston coverts, Cousland, Blackburn House, over the moss below Starlaw and South Inch, across the Blackburn and Bathgate road, down to and up the banks of the Almond near Reddock, and thereafter, with many twists and turns, to Torbanehill, where the fox got to ground. "Point about thirteen miles; as hounds ran, nearly double," is perhaps a liberal computation, but the run must have been a long and severe one for both hounds and horses,—one horse is stated to have died at Bathgate from the effects of it,—for the country rode deep, and the fences were numerous.

In the Stow country, which generally produced stout foxes, much good sport was enjoyed, and on the 16th of March 1874, a fine hill run, with a point of some seven or eight miles, took place. From the crags at Craigend the pack went away at best pace straight to Little Catpair, and crossing the Cockum water, breasted Catpair hill. Lauderdale seemed to be the fox's point, for a mile and a half farther on hounds entered Berwickshire near Iiichkeith, and leaving Inchkeith hill on their right, turned away from Pilmuir, over Bowerhouse, towards Collielaw. With the pace unabated, Airhouse, Butterdean, and Channelkirk were in turn reached and passed, and pressing on by Kirtonhull and Gleng&t, hounds pulled down their fox in the open opposite Turflaw, "after a splendid run of one hour and twenty minutes over the stiffest and steepest of these hills, the pace throughout, tremendous." The brush was presented to Mr Milne of Faldonside, the oldest sportsman present, who, it is stated, rode capitally on his white mare, while Messrs Bertram, White, Harpers, and Marks also went well, and after the run, guided Atkinson and his hounds back over the hills to Stow.

Owing to the frost of the two previous days, it seemed doubtful whether it would be possible to hunt at Crookston on the 24th of November 1874, but those who attended the fixture did not regret having done so, for hounds ran well for two hours, and although the distance traversed is not recorded, the point could hardly have been less than ten miles. Finding in Mr Borthwick's young covert, hounds went away to Hoppringle, but doubling back, ran through Crookston and by Glints hill to Brotherstone. Then turning north over Soutra hill, they ran on as if for Blackshiels high covert, but not entering it, bore away towards Cakeinuir Castle, which they passed on their left, and continued by Frosty Nob, over Saughland and Crichton Mains to the village of Pathhead. There the fox was so hard pressed that he took refuge on the roof of one of the houses, but being dislodged, was pursued to the banks of the rfTne where he was rolled over in the open.

In snow and sleet a goodly number of sportsmen met hounds at Westwood on the 3rd of February 1876. The previous night had been one of high wind and pelting rain, and it was therefore not surprising that several of Captain Steuart's coverts were drawn blank. But neither did this nor a continuance of the stormy weather depress Atkinson, whose spirits were wont to rise under difficulties, and whose countenance, when throwing his hounds into "the Wilderness" near Belisquarry on this occasion, beamed as with a consciousness of the thorough manner in which they were to acquit themselves throughout the impending fine run. The cry with which the covert resounded only died away as the pack broke from it and settled to the line of their fox, which—big, wiry, and grey—had gone eastwards by the village. The few intervening fields were quickly left behind, and from the wood at Bellsquarry hounds ran south across the Caledonian railway and through the Murieston strips; then bending by Hermand and again by the Limefleld glen, they ran on to Westwood, where they crossed the flooded Breich water near the railway bridge. From this point they stretched away by Foulshiels across the Morningside and Coltness railway, and so to Polkemmet, where the fox, which had gone to ground in a rabbit burrow, was dug out and given to them, and in the absence of Sir William Baillie, his brother, who had taken part in the run, refreshed the sportsmen present. The distance from Belisquarry wood to Polkemmet—nine miles as the crow flies, and perhaps half as much again as hounds ran—was accomplished in an hour and forty minutes, during which hounds were neither lifted nor cast, nor was there the semblance of a check.

The 10th of February 1877 was celebrated by another fine run, and although the span from find to finish was less than in some of the runs already described, the distance which hounds travelled was probably greater. Oatridge was the fixture, and a very large field, including the master (Mr Hope), Lord Hopetoun, afterwards Marquis of Linlithgow, Colonel Shairp and Colonel Gillon, received a kindly welcome from the well- known and popular tenant-farmer and good sportsman, Mr Thomas Young. Hounds found quickly in the covert on the Braes o' Mar and as quickly went away, running almost straight to Kings- cavil, and thence, after a short check, over Nancy's hill and by Ochiltree Castle and Mochrie's whin as if for Longmuir. Leaving that on their right, they passed Ochiltree mill, crossed the old grass of West Binny at a great pace, and ran on by Blackcraig and Bangour towards Dechmont, but swinging right-handed, continued by Drumcross, Whitelaw and Gala Braes to Ballencrieff wood. From this two fresh foxes went away, and an exchange might have taken place, had not Lord Hopetoun, who viewed the hunted fox, holloaed hounds oil his line. Recovering it, they streamed away by Bishopbrae, Hilderston, Walihouse craigs, and Wallhouse to Wallace's cave, and hunting down the banks of the Avon, crossed it at Wallhouse Desert and went on as if for Muiravonside. Recrossing the river near Carribber however, they doubled back towards the Desert, just outside which they had the satisfaction of breaking up their fox after a chase of fully two hours.'

At Houstoun, on the 24th of February 1877, Mr Hope carried the horn, for, a few days before, Atkinson had met with a serious accident, breaking his collar-bone, three ribs, and a toe, through his horse falling with him when galloping. Again "the Wilderness" near Belisquarry held a good fox, and again a long run from it ensued, the pack and the master, in his capacity of huntsman, acquitting themselves with much credit. Rattling out of covert, hounds crossed the West Calder road and ran by Brucefield to Blackmire, through Lime- field to Dovitshill, and, after a short check, by Parkhall, Muirhouse, Slateheugh, Birniehill, and Hartwood, to Kiprig. Wheeling from that to Mid Hartwood, they stretched away over the moorland, through rain and mist, to Baadsrnill, and from that, across the Longhill burn to Whole- stock, and from that again to Blaweary on borders of Lanarkshire. Then turning eastwards, they repassed Baadsmill, and hunting steadily over Hartwood Mains and by Torphin, entered Harburn park, where, unromantically, in one of the steadings, this staunch fox breathed his last.

Notwithstanding the good and at times even brilliant sport which was being shown, contributions to the Hunt funds came in slowly, and at the end of the season the receipts were, as a rule, insufficient to meet the expenditure. Thus a millstone, in the shape of a yearly increasing deficiency, began to hang heavily round the neck of the committee, and although more than one appeal for additional subscriptions was made, there was no satisfactory response. Therefore money had to be borrowed, and it would seem that in the long-run the debt was of necessity wiped out by those who should not have had to bear the burden. Under such circumstances, it is little to be wondered at that payments to account of the sum guaranteed to the master could not always be made when these were most required, and frequently Mr Hope had to lie out of his money for a considerable time. On one occasion when he happened to meet the honorary secretary and treasurer, he took the opportunity of asking for an instalment, but all that he got at the time was a good-natured slap on the shoulder, and "Damn it, man, Jimmie, we haven't collected it."

In the course of his mastership, Mr Hope, as was only natural, had through his hands a large number of horses. These, when sold, generally realised good prices, and Mr Hope says that one spring "the Hunt twenty" fetched an average price of 135 guineas, the highest among the various hunt sales of the year with the exception of the Cheshire. Snowdrop, Mullingar, Kilkenny, His Grace, Sir John, John Peel, and Moscow stand out pre-eminently in Mr Hope's recollection as good performers in the field, and the first named, which was purchased from Mr John Brady, Red- barns, Armagh, in the summer of 1871, carried Atkinson so well in a good run from "the Wilderness" covert at Belisquarry in the following December, that she shortly afterwards became the property of Colonel Gillon, who, not unmindful of some golden moments on her back, arranged that her likeness as well as his own should appear on the canvas painted by Gourlay Steel some years later. One other horse is perhaps worthy of mention, not so much because of his good qualities as a hunter as on account of his having been the subject of one of the few bets which Mr Hope ever had. This was Volary by brother to Bird on the Wing darn by Barbatus, which as a three-year-old had run at Newmarket, but while Mr Hope's property usually carried a whipper-in. Possessed of a fair turn of speed, he was entered in the National Hunters Stakes at the Liverpool Spring Meeting of 1874, and at the price of six to one was well backed by his owner and many of his friends, among whom were several officers of the First Royal Dragoons then quartered at Piershill and hunting with the pack. To make a long story short, the whipper-in 's horse won, and over his victory Mr Hope alone pocketed 600.

It need hardly be said that when Mr Hope's resignation was intimated to the Hunt committee in the beginning of the year 1877, it was received with the greatest regret. That his mastership should close without some outward sign of the approbation with which his labours were viewed was not possible, and at East Barnes, whither he removed some years later and now lives, there is a much-valued piece of silver plate bearing this inscription: "Presented by the Members of the Lothians Hunt to JAMES HOPE, Esq., Duddingston, in remembrance of the pleasant and excellent sport they enjoyed during his Mastership of the Lothians Fox-Hounds for a period of six years, 1871 - 1876." This and some other mementos of his term of office were banded to him at a luncheon which was given in his honour in the Balmoral Hotel, Edinburgh, on the 31st of October 1877, when the presentation, which was undertaken by Colonel Gillon, was witnessed by many approving and familiar faces, including those of the Earl of Haddington, Sir Arthur Halkett, Mr W. W. Anderson, Norton Mains; Mr Barstow, Mr Blackwood, Mr Tait Burton, Captain Carmichael, Mr Christie, Mr Craig, Dalkeith; Mr Drybrough, Mr Fletcher, Bangour; Mr Ford, Hardengreen; Mr Gibson, Cliftonhall; Mr Gray, Braehead; Colonel Hare of Calderhall, Mr Harper, Bridge-end; Mr T. E. O. Home, Mr Hunter, Haugh; Mr George Mitchell-Innes, Mr Kerr, The Bloom; Mr Paterson of Bankton, Mr Riddell, Mr Arthur Robertson, Mr Alexander Robertson, Hoebridge, Melrose; Mr John Swan, Mr Usher, Captain Wauchope, Mr Wilson, Cowden; and Mr Thomas Young, Oatridge.

Soon after Mr Hope's retirement it became apparent that it would be impossible, mainly owing to the insufficiency of the subscription, to continue to hunt the same extent of country as before, and it was accordingly resolved that in the future the Dalkeith and Stow district should be relinquished, and that the remainder—the old Linlithgow and Stirlingshire country—should be hunted alone as it had been prior to the Union. Thus ended the Lothians Hunt and with it the many bright days by which its comparatively short existence was gladdened; first under the reign of Mr H. W. Hope of Luffness, and afterwards under that of Mr James Hope, Easter Duddingston.

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