- SALTON, a parish, in the county of Haddington; containing, with the villages of East and West Salton, 770 inhabitants, of whom 261 are in the village of East Salton, and 167 in the village of West Salton, respectively 6 miles (S. W. by S.) and 7 (S. W.) from Haddington. This place, which is of considerable antiquity, is supposed to have derived its name from Nicholas de Soulis, who was proprietor of some land here in the 13th century, and from whom it was called Soulistown, since corrupted by abbreviation into Salton. The earliest authentic notice of the place occurs in the 12th century, when it formed part of the possessions of the family of the De Morvilles, constables of the kingdom, of whom Henry de Morville in the year 1190 granted the lands of Herdmanston, a portion of the manor, to his sheriff, Henry de St. Clair, ancestor of the present proprietor. The De Morvilles, having taken part with the English in espousing the cause of Baliol, during the disputed succession to the Scottish crown, were, on the accession of Robert de Bruce, deprived of their estates, which were bestowed on the family of St. Clair. Great part of the manor subsequently became the property of the Abernethy family, one of whose descendants, in the middle of the 15th century, was raised to the peerage by the title of Lord Saltoun; the lands were afterwards purchased from that family by Sir Andrew Fletcher, created Lord Innerpeffer, and ancestor of Andrew Fletcher, Esq., the present proprietor. The parish is about three miles and a half in length, varies from two to three miles in breadth, and is bounded on the west by the river Tyne, which separates it from the parish of Pencaitland; it comprises about 3220 acres, of which 2600 are arable, 420 woodland and plantations, and 200 in permanent pasture. The surface rises gradually from the river towards the south and east to a considerable elevation, of which the highest point, called the Skimmer Hill, and nearly in the centre of the parish, is 600 feet above the level of the sea: from this point the lands slope southward to the Salton river. The scenery is strikingly diversified, displaying in some parts the most luxuriant fertility, enriched by stately timber and flourishing plantations, and in others a pleasing variety of hill and dale; some of the farms are inclosed by hedges of thorn interspersed with wild roses, and are separated by good roads bordered on each side with rows of trees. The Salton water, which skirts the parish for nearly three miles previously to its junction with the Tyne, abounds with trout of excellent quality, and, in its winding course through the grounds of Salton park, is crossed by two handsome bridges of stone.The soil is various, but principally a strong deep clay; on the higher grounds, of a lighter quality, and in parts intermixed with sand; in some places, a loam of great fertility; and on the slope of the hill descending to the bank of the Tyne, a mixture of clay and loam remarkably productive. The farms vary in extent from 120 to 600 acres; the system of agriculture is in a highly improved state, and the five-shift course of husbandry generally prevalent. The crops are, grain of all kinds, potatoes, and turnips, which last are but of comparatively recent introduction; bone-dust and rape manure are used extensively, and with so much benefit as nearly to supersede lime. The farm-buildings are substantial and well arranged, the lands inclosed, and the fences, partly stone dykes and partly hedges of thorn, kept in good condition: the furrow-draining is effected by drains in some parts constructed of stone, but generally of tiles. A society for the encouragement of agriculture, instituted by the late General Fletcher, has merged into the East Lothian United Agricultural Society, who hold a meeting annually at Salton, for the distribution of premiums. The woods are of fir, birch, and oak, with some elm, beech, and larch, which are well adapted to the soil; the plantations are of Scotch fir, with larch and spruce. The substratum is principally limestone, in which various species of fossil shells are found imbedded; and between the strata are veins of freestone and whinstone. It is generally believed that seams of coal lie under the limestone; but from the proximity of collieries in the vicinity, affording an abundant supply at a very moderate cost, no attempt has hitherto been made to ascertain the fact. There are two limestone quarries extensively wrought; and adjoining each is a kiln constructed on the best principles, for burning the produce into lime. On the lands of Salton is also a quarry of freestone, chiefly worked for the tenants of that estate; the stone is of good quality for building, but of a reddish colour. The rateable annual value of the parish is £5031.Salton Hall, the seat of Mr. Fletcher, to whom nearly four-fifths of the lands in the parish belong, is an ancient castellated mansion formerly strongly fortified, but partly modernised and greatly improved and embellished by the present family. It is surrounded by an extensive park, well wooded, and comprising many fine specimens of stately timber; the lawns, pleasure-grounds, and gardens are tastefully laid out, and embellished with the winding waters of the Salton river. The house contains numerous stately apartments, and is enriched with a well-assorted library of more than 5000 volumes. Herdmanston, the property of Lord Sinclair, and lately the residence of the Honourable Adam Gillies, one of the senators of the College of Justice, is a handsome mansion of considerable antiquity, and still retains many of its original features. It was also a fortification of great strength; parts of the battlements and some of its turrets are still remaining, and the fosse with which it was surrounded, though nearly filled up, may yet be traced. The village of East Salton is situated nearly in the centre of the parish, and on the brow of the hill, commanding an extensive view of the finest and most richly cultivated portions of East Lothian, with the sea, the coast of Fife, and the adjacent country; it is neatly built, and inhabited by persons employed in agriculture and in the various trades that are carried on for the supply of the parish. The weaving of Holland cloth, on its introduction into Britain by the lady of Henry Fletcher of Salton, who had visited Holland for that purpose, attended by two experienced mechanics disguised as servants, was established here in 1750, and conducted for a time on a very extensive scale, supplying the whole of Scotland. In the same year the British Linen Company formed their first bleachfield, under the patronage of Lord Milton; and various other manufactories were established here, all of which have long ceased to exist. The only manufacture worth notice now carried on is that of bricks and tiles for roofing and draining, established in 1834 by the present proprietor on his own lands. The village maintains facility of intercourse with the neighbouring market-towns of Haddington and Dalkeith, by means of good roads, of which the road from Edinburgh to Dunse passes for three miles through the parish; and at West Salton is a post-office, which has a daily delivery. The village of West Salton is a mile to the west of East Salton, and nearly on the margin of the Salton water; it has a bridge over the river, and in its general character and appearance, though situated on much lower ground, differs but little from East Salton.The parish is in the presbytery of Haddington and synod of Lothian and Tweeddale, and patronage of Mr. Fletcher: the minister's stipend is £271. 6. 10., with a manse, and the glebe is valued at £15 per annum. The church, situated in the village of East Salton, is an ancient structure enlarged and almost rebuilt in 1805; it is in the later English style, with a square embattled tower surmounted by a handsome spire erected at the expense of General Fletcher, and is adapted for a congregation of 400 persons. The parochial school, also at East Salton, affords a liberal education to about seventy scholars; the master has a salary of £34. 4. a year, £20 fees, and £6 from Bishop Burnet's augmentation fund, with a house and garden. There is likewise a school in the village of West Salton, of which the master has a salary of £20 from Bishop Burnet's fund, with £20 fees, and a house and an acre and a half of land given by General Fletcher, who also erected a spacious schoolroom. A library in the manse for the use of the minister, originated by a Mr. Norman Leslie, has been greatly augmented by an appropriation of part of Burnet's fund; and there are a good library for the use of the Sunday scholars, and a branch of the East Lothian Itinerating Library. In the south-west portion of the parish are the remains of an ancient camp of elliptical form, consisting of two concentric intrenchments; the inner area is about 500 feet in circumference, and between it and the exterior is a fosse ten feet in breadth, now nearly filled. It is supposed to be either of Pictish or Danish origin. Within the park of Herdmanston are the remains of a chapel erected by John de St. Clair in the 13th century; it is now used as a burial-place by the Sinclair family, and in it are two tombs inscribed to William de St. Clair and Sibilla, his wife. A little to the north are some slight remains of the ancient castle, consisting of one arch, on the key-stone of which is the date of its erection. William Dunbar, the poet, has been generally thought to have been a native of this place, but on very questionable authority. Patrick Scougal, afterwards Bishop of Aberdeen, was incumbent for about five years till 1664; and Henry Scougal, his son, author of The Life of God in the Soul of Man, and professor of divinity in King's College, Aberdeen, in which office he died, in the twenty-eighth year of his age, was born here in 1660. Gilbert Burnet, Bishop of Sarum, was presented by the crown, in 1665, to the incumbency of this parish, which he held till 1669, when he was appointed professor of theology in the university of Glasgow: he died in 1715. Andrew Fletcher, distinguished for his opposition to the Union of Scotland; and his nephew, Andrew, Lord Milton, chief justice, were both natives of Salton.
A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. Samuel Lewis. 1856.