| doubt he was stimulated to the work by the expected visit
King James the following year to his old kingdom.
In 1616 thus Sir John Hamilton petitioned the Lords of Council:
—" That altho the Lords have taken great course for enlarging
and mending all highways and passages throu which his Majesty
will pass on his approaching visit to Scotland, there is a
very eminent and open place oversine, to wit, the high gait
throu the town of Preston which is so broken after a small
rayne and weit as hardlie is passible.
" Now it is quite a schame that the common streit of
a throu fairing toune so neir to the burgh of Edinburgh sail
not be mendit; and unless it is mendit in tyme, and a good
calsay made throu the same, it will be a grit discredit quhan
that the strangers that accompanie his Majesty sail sie the
Sir John seems to have been a bit of a diplomatist. See how
he in the first place tries to shame the Lords of Council
into mending the roadway through Preston, even before his
own tower, " lest the strangers with his Majesty should
observe its poverty strickeness. " Perhaps it lay outside
their province to repair the village street. This he would
know, but he does not give them a moment's time for reflection,
for with the very next breath he holds them up with a request
"that they should grant him permission to levy and uplift
a duty for the purpose of repairing the roadway, " and
this permission they granted.
The time limit was for three years and to this effect, "
that he should levy a duty of 2d. on any 'horse-load ' of
whatever goods should pass through the village, 4d. on every
'cart-load, ' 2d. on every 'ox or cow, ' and 4d. on every
'ten sheep' that should pass that way. " But an exception
was made on all green wood that was conveyed through the town,
on horse or cart, for use at Salt Preston.
From ecclesiastical history we learn that George Hamilton
of Preston, like his father David, was a staunch Reformer.
Further, that David Hamilton, though one of the most active
Reformers, was a sterling supporter otherwise of Queen Mary.
Perhaps it was owing to this impartiality of David Hamilton
that negotiations between the queen and the Catholic party
on the one hand, and her Protestant subjects on the other,
were held in 1559, during the Reformation period, at the village
"Negotiations, " says the MS. State Papers, "were
now entered into by commissioners from both sides, who assembled
at Preston, in Midlothian (? Eastlothian). These negotiations
resulted in no arrangement, as the principal condition proposed
by the Regent, that wherever her residence was fixed, the
Protestants should refrain from preaching, was evidently one
which could not be accepted. "
In 1617, during the reign of James VI. and through the influence
of Sir John Hamilton, Preston and Prestongrange became burghs
of barony. A dribbling burnie which flows down on the west
side of Bankton House, crosses the North British line where
Milligan's Mains was wont to stand, seeks its way through
Preston gardens, a few yards west of the ancient tower, and
finds its way across the streets of Prestonpans a short distance
east of Ayre's Wynd into the Firth of Forth, still shows the
divisional boundary of the ancient baronies of Preston and
WYGTRIG AND WYGTRIE HlLL.
Wygtrig Hill is mentioned in one of the earliest charters
relating to Tranent. It is now pronounced Wygrie or Wygtrie.
The lands cover several fields; but it is the hill we have
meantime in view.
Wygtrig Hill may best be described as a great high natural
mound, lying about equi-distant between the farm steadings
of Bankton on the east and Dolphinstone on the west. It overlooks
the village of Preston towards the north, while at its very
base, on the south side, lies Bankton Bog. There is a little
historical interest attached to this bog, as it happens to
form the western extremity of the great "Tranent or Winton
Peaterie, " mentioned in one of the state charters of
the twelfth century. Barely half a century ago this bog had
never felt plough or harrow. Many a time we have approached
it lying in all its primeval beauty, burdened with saugh-wands,
brambles, and rushes.
Facing Bankhead House, on the south, right over Wygtrig Hill,
runs an old stone dyke, and in this dyke, a little distance
down, may be found the very curious memorial stone shown elsewhere.
What may be termed its base or foundation stone, almost on
a level with the soil, is rounded at the corners, and has
the appearance of a heavy doorstep. Directly above the foundation
lies another stone, a little over four feet in length, and
about eight inches thick, reminding us of a sculptured window
lintel, but lying in a reversed position; it is of light sandstone.
Directly over this again, and in the centre of it,