| CHAPTER XIX.
PRESTON TOWER AND THE HAMILTONS.
Preston Tower—Its Restoration—Raids and Forays around it—Sir
James Liddel of Preston—First of the Hamiltons—History of
the Second, Third, and Fourth Hamiltons wanting—David, the
Fifth Hamilton, marries a daughter of Sir William Bailie of
Lamington—George Hamilton marries Barbara Cockburn of Ormiston—John
Hamilton—Church Squabbling between the Hamiltons and Setons
at Tranent—People of Prestonpans will not attend Church—Sir
Thomas Hamilton—Burning of the Tower— James de Preston—Thomas
Hamilton—Sir William Hamilton under Argyll —Sir Robert Hamilton,
the Covenanter, at Drumclog—The Last Male of the Race—His
Dying Testimony—The relative Oswalds—Obtain and Lose the Lands
of Preston—New Sir William Hamilton—How he obtained the Baronetcy—The
present Sir William—A Bright Career—At the Siege of Delhi,
THE Tower at Preston is supposed to have been built during
the 14th century (1365). The original height of the Tower,
from the ground to the battlement, was 46 feet, and from the
battlement to the extreme top other 20 feet, making over all
a total measurement of 66 feet. The grand Tower stands directly
above the great whinstone dyke, which takes its course westward
through Morrison's Haven, and eastward into the German Ocean.
A number of years ago a movement was set on foot to have the
quaint old fortalice partially restored, especially the top-work,
which, being exposed to the elements, was beginning to crumble.
For this a sum of £350 was sought by subscription, and
was speedily forthcoming. About. £500 was expended on
the ruin at that period.
Now, as we behold in the distance the fine old ruin standing
in all its solitary yet picturesque grandeur, amidst
the old grounds over which it has stood a weary but watchful
guardian for so many past centuries, how grim, and strong,
and defiant-like it still appears, and as we approach the
venerable structure curious are the thoughts that arise.
There stands the aged tower, with the great wide space all
around which, according to tradition, has borne witness in
the ancient days to many a fierce tournament for honours at
the hands of some fair maiden; which has given ear to the
shrill trumpet sound at the dead of night when preparing for
the foray, perhaps against their neighbours at Fawside; or,
more alarming still, to the hoarse shout of the leaders to
battle, and to the wild yell of the accompanying horsemen
as they rushed upon horsemen, to the murderous clang of sabre
upon sabre, the shouts of the warriors and the groans of the
wounded, when perhaps these neighbouring opponents were furiously
retaliating upon the chief and his retainers at Preston. But
the days of these murderous forays, if they ever existed at
Preston, are happily departed for ever; and, leaving such
speculations behind, how very different are the feelings which
now pervade the soul when, casting the eye around, we behold
not trampling steeds and rnail-clad warriors, but only the
deep drooping fruit-laden trees of the husbandman.
THE HAMILTONS OF PRESTON.
The first of the name of Hamilton in Scotland was a Sir Gilbert
de Hamilton, who flourished during the early part of the 13th
century. The elder son of this Sir Gilbert was Sir Walter,
and he was the founder of the family of Cadzow; while the
younger son, Sir John, was the immediate ancestor of the Hamiltons
of Rossavon, Fingalton, and Preston.
The Hamiltons of Preston are thus the eldest of the junior
branches of that name. Originally in possession of the lands
of Ross, or Rossavon, this branch of the Hamiltons had its
earliest seat in an old "Peel Tower, " perched on
a wooded promontory, and encircled by the river Avon, where,
after a long descent from the upland moors of Drumclog, it
pours its tribute into the Clyde.
To their lands of Rossavon were soon added the barony of Fingalton
in Renfrewshire, and at a later period that of Preston in
The foregoing is an historical fact, but at what period