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The Scottish Nation

EDMONDSTON. – A branch of the Edmondston family, settled in Shetland, trace their descent from one Andrew Edmondston, a Protestant clergyman, who, in 1560, fleeing from persecution, took refuge there. He had one son, John, who was a minister in Mid Yell, but, having resisted, on behalf of his parishioners, some oppression of a family of the name of Niven, he was summarily turned out of house and living, and fled with his son, Jasper, to Holland. Another son, Andrew Edmondston, remained in Shetland, and acquired property in Yell and elsewhere, by marriage with a Shetland lady, of the name of Hendickson. He had two sons, Laurence and Gilbert. The latter went to Holland. The former became laird of Hascussay, and had 3 sons, 1. Charles, who had 1 son, Laurence, died young. 2. William, a surgeon in Leith, who left 2 daughters. 3. Arthur, who bought from his eldest brother part of the Hascussay property, and continued the family, having married a daughter of Sir Andrew Mitchell. His only son, Arthur, married, 1st, Martha Sinclair, and 2dly, Mary Sinclair, cousins, and had by both, 6 sons and 3 daughters. The sons were, Laurence, William, Arthur, Thomas, Gilbert, and James. William, Arthur, and Thomas, died abroad. Gilbert emigrated.. James, a merchant in Lerwick, died unmarried.

Laurence, the eldest of these, a surgeon in Lerwick, continued the family. He married in 1775, Mary, eldest daughter of Thomas Sanderson, Esq. of Buness in Unst, the most northerly of the Shetland islands, and had, with three daughters, five sons. 1. Arthur, author of ‘A View of the Zetland Islands,’ published in 1800, and quoted by Sir Walter Scott in ‘The Pirate.’ He died at Lerwick, unmarried, in 1841. 2. Thomas, who, by his maternal grandfather’s will, succeeded to Buness, and died in Nov. 1858, unmarried. 3. Henry, a surgeon in Newcastle-on-Tyne, author of a work on Cowpox, and many valuable contributions to medical science in periodicals of the day. He died, unmarried, in 1831. 4. Charles, merchant in Charleston, South Carolina, to which place he emigrated about 1800. He died in 1861. 5. Laurence, M.D., a medical practitioner in Unst, and a well-known naturalist, particularly in the department of ornithology, to which science he has made valuable additions. He married in 1824, Eliza MacBrair, granddaughter of Dr. David Johnston, 60 years minister of North Leith, and founder of the Blind Asylum, Edinburgh. Dr. Laurence Edmondston has a surviving family of 3 sons and 4 daughters. The eldest son, Thomas, published, in 1843, a ‘Flora of the Shetland Islands.’ In 1845, he was elected to the botanical chair in the Andersonian university, Glasgow, but resigned previous to delivering his introductory lecture, having been appointed chief naturalist of H.M.S. Herald, on her voyage round the world. He died, by a lamentable accident, on the coast of Peru, before he had completed his twentieth year. The Rev. Biot Edmondston, another son, born in 1827, was ordained in 1858 assistant and successor to the Rev. Dr. Gray, minister of the parish of Kincardine in Monteith. Mary Sanderson Edmondston, the eldest daughter, was married in 1860 to Andrew James Symington, author of ‘The Beautiful in Nature, Art, and Life,’ ‘Pen and Pencil Sketches of Faroe and Iceland,’ ‘Harebell Chimes,’ &c. She contributes both prose and verse to periodicals. Mrs. Edmondston published, in 1857, a small volume of ‘Sketches and Tales of the Shetland Isles.’ Buness, the family seat, in Unst, stands near the head of Balta Sound. It was here the French philosophers Biot and Kater, in 1817-18, conducted their experiments for determining in so high a latitude, the variation in the length of the seconds pendulum.

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