Please note: due to the recent Covid-19 outbreak the Centre is currently closed, but our website is still open for business.

Archives & Local History

EL Archives Belhaven Brewer c1910

Taken at Belhaven Brewery c1910

Archives and Local History is an excellent starting point for all your needs relating to the history and culture of East Lothian and provides many exciting opportunities for research.

The Archives aim to inform, delight and engage. It is our responsibility to collect, care for and make accessible the historical records of the county. As a result we hold a large collection of original source material stretching back 700 years. The collection includes manuscripts, maps, books and images relating to many aspects of East Lothian’s history. We are also the repository for records of East Lothian Council and its predecessors.

The Local History area has a lovely large reading and study space, free wifi and computers as well as our team always on hand to help. We can assist with genealogy and local history enquiries from our collection of Old Parish Registers, Censuses, Monumental Inscriptions, Valuation Rolls, Sasines and newspapers.

If you want to find out about your community, your house, your family or a particular organisation in East Lothian, the Archives and Local History service is the place to come. We can also undertake research for you though there is a small fee for this to cover our costs. Please contact us if you’d like our help or browse our list of research guides.

Looking to the future as well as the past, we are also interested in continuing to add to our collections so please do get in touch if you have any items which you think may be of interest to us.

Contact details:

15 Lodge St, Haddington, EH41 3DX

Tel: 01620 820695

Email[email protected]

Or join us on Facebook or Twitter (@JohnGrayCentre)

40 thoughts on “Archives & Local History”

  1. Margaret Archibald says:

    Hi trying to connect with any of the kids that lived and played in and around Links Street, New Street Musselburgh in the 1950s into the 60s

    1. FrancesW says:

      Hi Margaret,
      I’m afraid this isn’t something we can help with but if you are on Facebook there are several Musselburgh pages that might be able to help.
      best wishes,

  2. Gavin Wilson says:

    I’ve visited the John Gray Centre a couple of times now, found staff to be a great help and support. They enabled me to find a lot of information on our family tree. Thank you.
    Due to health, distance and transport, I’m very limited to travel to the JGC, therefore wondered if there was means to access records online.
    I’ve found a couple of means to check cemeteries & inscriptions for 3 churchyards in East Lothian.
    I’ve now visited a few cemeteries in EL and added photos with information on people to ‘Find A Grave’ and ‘Billiongraves’ websites. Mostly our family, but also War Graves as a wee project.
    I’m researching Blair, Dickson, Golightly, etc and more than happy to share information.

    1. HanitaR says:

      Hi Gavin,
      Thank you for your comment. If you have specific names and dates, we could look up our references to see if the monumental inscriptions list them. Apart from the sources you already know about, we don’t think there are other online resources. There are the Registrars, of course, who will have grave information. If you wish us to do a search, please email the details to [email protected]. Best Wishes.

  3. Eileen Hamilton says:

    Hi does anyone have information on the Hamilton family that lived at 1 high st in the late 1800’s Archibold Hamilton. I believe he was a French polished. Thanks

    1. HanitaR says:

      Hi Ms Hamilton,
      Thank you for your enquiry. I’m afraid we do not have any information. You are very welcome to come in to our Centre (if possible) to research this individual via valuation rolls, census information, etc. Bring as many details as possible. Please do not hesitate to email us at [email protected] if you have any further questions.
      Best Wishes.

  4. Aidan Taylor says:

    Hi I am trying to find results of the Murrayfield Junior Club Sevens that feature local rugby teams and newspapers at the National Library don’t always have them. As local teams often featured in the final local papers might be a better option. The years I am looking for are 1948, 1954 and 1979-84.
    Do you hold these in easy to find microfilms? The final was always played late March or in April.

  5. Ron Sheridan says:

    Do you have any information re a place “Cloutses” near Elphinstone. I have a copy of an old map from NLS showing this name. It maybe an abbreviation of Clothhouses” or “Clothouses”. I have ancestors who come from there and wondered if there was industry of a sort there at one time. Any information would be gratefully received.

    1. HanitaR says:

      Hi Ron,
      Unfortunately, we do not have any info but we figure that your guess is right. Someone obviously dealt with cloths or cloth making in ancient times. This place was in Lord Elphinstone’s estate and so there might be some connection there too. There is no mention of such an industry as the surrounding area deals with coal mining and agriculture. The address was retained as ‘Clouthouses, Tranent’ in the Post Office Directory all the way into the early 1850s, as you probably know already.
      Thanks for your enquiry.

    2. Susan says:

      There was a farm called Clutses, just north of Elphinstone. I had an ancestor who worked as a Hynd and Ploughman there.

      1. Andrew Ralton says:

        It’s referenced in the Newbattle Abbey Charters:

        Innes, C; 1849; Registrum S. Marie de Neubotle. Abbacie Cisterciensis Beate Virginis de Neubotle chartarium vetus. Accedit appendix cartarum originalium. 1140-1528; The Bannatyne Club; Edinburgh.

  6. lesley young says:

    Hi.I am looking for some Info regarding the old bowling alley situated between Peter Potters and nungate bridge in Haddington.We have a gold bowling medal presented to my great grandfather Thomas Wilson inscribed ‘cree bowling club’.So far we haven’t been successful .Many thanks.

    1. HanitaR says:

      Hi Lesley,

      Bill Wilson, our Local History Officer, has given the following response:

      Below is a link to the John Gray Web site about bowling in East Lothian mentioning the bowling green at the Nungate Bridge dating from 1660.

      I’ve also inserted a link to the National Library of Scotland Map Images which shows Haddington in 1819 and if you zoom into the Nungate Bridge you can clearly see the bowling green.

      Bill has also attached a couple of articles taken from the Courier and has sent it to your email address. The letter is from 29th May 1891 and the other article is from 17th July 1891.

      I hope this helps with your enquiry.

  7. Sheila MacLennan says:

    Hi I’m looking for any information regarding Catherine Brown Bird, who was born 1899 in Prestonpans. She died 6/9/1992 and her grave is in Prestonpans cemetery. I believe she was a nurse but not sure from when and where. Would there be anything in the obituary columns or any newspaper items, which would give me any information on her life?
    Thanks Sheila

    1. Stella Macdougall says:

      Hi Sheila
      I’m pretty sure this is the same person though can’t confirm her first name. Nurse Bird was a very well known and respected nurse/midwife in Prestonpans for a long time. Right now there is a picture of her on the Pans Folks page on Facebook, put up by a niece, Liz Bell who I believe still lives locally. This is a closed group, but I could get you access if you were interested in chasing it up.

  8. Connor stibblea says:

    Looking for someone to help with some insight into Gifford and some things I may be able to re discover I have managed to find a bomb shelters and underground bunkers also been to Yester castle but however me and my friends think we are maybe missing some good information on what could be about ect we are just few mates who are extremely in all east lothian history as far back as possible

  9. Neville Bougourd says:

    During WW2 the Polish Army had a training school for Officers, which also ran courses for Air Force Officers. It moved Auchtermuchty, Fife to North Berwick (area) in mid-December 1943 and moved on to Crieff, Perthshire around May/June 1944. I believe it shared premises with a cadet school and an ATS school. Likely places are Gullane, Dirleton or North Berwick itself. Do you have any idea where it was?

    Many thanks

  10. ClaireP says:

    Hi Stephen,
    Thanks for your enquiry. Any items we have in the museum collection are not for sale or exchange and we don’t have a pink one that you could visit us to see, I’m afraid.
    Good luck collecting.
    Best wishes,

  11. stephen says:

    Hi , I am trying to get hold of any stoneware bottles from the company of Telfers who operated in Musselburgh supplying ginger beer / fizzy drinks. They supplied their ginger beer in coloured topped stone bottles – dark blue, light blue , green , pink and brown. I would particularly like a pink one but any would be appreciated – or any advertising they used .
    Many thanks
    East Lothian

  12. George Lewis says:

    Hi My father DONALD C B Lewis born 1 Jun 1904 went to Dunbar school in about 1914 after his father died in Edinburgh abou 1913 and his mother moved back to Dunbar with his mother Esther Lewis (Nee Thomson) to be with her mother

    My father and mother were married in Belhaven church in 1931 they returned to Edinburgh because he had a medical condition and which caused him to go blind told me various things about Dunbar and we often went to visit my grand mother in Parsonspool who had remarried a Dunbar fisherman George Marr( Widower) in the 1920,s he never mentioned anythingabout his school days Would any record of him at school still be around today


    George Lewis

  13. Lockerkasten says:


    Are there rany volunteer tasks at the moment?

    1. HelenB says:

      Hi, if you’re interested in volunteering with us, we’ve got some projects listed on this site (, or why not join our Friends, who do loads of interesting projects with the archive and local history team? Email [email protected] to find out more, or search for ‘Friends’ in the search box above.
      Hope this helps!

  14. HelenB says:

    Dear Mr Hamilton,
    Thank you for your enquiry. I’m afraid we do not have any records relating to Lennoxlove House for that period. However, I did check the 1841 census (which I’m sure you did too) and your ancestor was listed as Georg Hamelton. He was listed as 8 years old so the birth year is correct. In the 1851 census his surname is spelt ‘Hamilton’ though.
    If his birth was indeed registered then my suggestion is for you to visit the ScotlandsPeople website at to see if they may have a birth entry for both ‘Hamelton’ and ‘Hamilton’.
    Please do not hesitate to contact us again at [email protected] should you have any other enquiries relating to East Lothian.
    Best wishes,
    Hanita (Local History Officer)

  15. John Hamilton says:

    I have relatives who were born and worked at Lennoxlove House in the mid 1800’s. I have found 6 out of 7 birth records but one for George Stuart Hamilton (b. c1833) cannot be found. He was also born at Lennoxlove. I have visited from Middlesbrough and searched the parish registers at the John Gray Centre. Apart from the old parish registers, are you aware of any records held from that period about Lennoxlove House that might help? Or any other advice that might be of help? Many thanks

  16. HelenB says:

    Hi Claire, thank you for your enquiry.
    We do have some photos, mostly of staff at the hospital. You are most welcome to view these photos here in Haddington, if it is possible for you to visit the Archives & Local History department. Our opening times are subject to change at the moment, but you can see the current hours here:, so you can check when to come.
    You could also visit the Scran website at and search for East Fortune Hospital or Sanatorium. They have a couple of ward photos that can be viewed online. You can use your library card to get full access to the resources on that site.
    Please do not hesitate to contact us again should you have any further questions.
    Hanita (Local History officer)

  17. Claire says:

    Hi, I worked in ward 2 of East Fortune hospital in the early 90s- I’ve seen aerial views of the hospital and internal views of how it looks these days but keen to find photographs of internal ward etc views from the 50s up until 1997. Any help appreciated, thank you.

  18. Hello folks – I hope all is well. I am a keen collector of Scottish bricks and travel the country looking for some to rescue and preserve. There are many I still have not recovered personally – 2 from east Lothian are an MB Sheriff, Dunbar and a Gladsmuir. I wonder if you know of anyone who has a similar interest in your neck of the woods who may know where an an example of such bricks may be lying around waiting to be saved!

    If you are able to reply could you please copy the reply to my personal email please.

    best wishes


    1. Judy Newton says:

      We have some Dunbar bricks you can have

      1. Bill Hall says:

        Hi Mark
        there are bricks from the’ Prestongrange’ brickworks which can be found on the foreshore of Morrison’s Haven which is opposite the Prestongrange Museum on the coast road going east from Musselburgh to Prestonpans. You can find details of the brickworks etc under the archaeology part on the John Gray Centre site. Hope this helps.

        1. HelenB says:

          Thanks Bill and Judy!

  19. Ellen E says:

    I would appreciate it if you can tell me where to find information about the hospital at Gullane in the late 1940-early 50’s.
    A family member, a child, spent almost a year time there when he was ill. I think it was nearly a year, and I think it was rheumatic fever.
    Thank you, Ellen

    1. HelenB says:

      Dear Ellen,
      I’ve had a look through our archive and, unfortunately, I couldn’t find any documentation about the hospital. However, I dug deeper on the Internet and came up with the following information.
      First of all, I found a map of Gullane from the years 1938 – 45 showing the location of the Convalescent Home in Gullane and I’ve inserted the link to that web page:
      I also found some information about the home on the Lothian Health Service Archive web page:
      Another source for the home is the Dictionary of Scottish Architects which a few more details:
      I also managed to find a photograph on another web site, which I’ve added as an attachment in an email.
      I hope these sources will be of some use to you.
      Many thanks for your enquiry.
      Bill Wilson

  20. David says:

    Hello Valerie

    This might be a tricky one. Many ‘places names’ in local use never made it onto maps or street plans. ‘Donaldsons land’ sounds like it may be an individual property within Cockenzie from a period before formal street naming and, importantly, numbering. If you can provide a context and date for the use of the name, we could suggest lines of inquiry. In their absence a check of our indexes has drawn a blank.

  21. valerie coyle says:

    Can you tell me where Donaldsons land is in Cockenzie?
    Valerie Coyle

  22. valerie coyle says:

    How do I go about joining Dunbar and District History Society
    Many Thanks
    Valerie Coyle

    1. David says:

      Hello Valerie

      Contact them on 01368 683734 or on weekend afternoons at Dunbar Town House Museum.

  23. HelenB says:

    Thanks Chris – I’m so glad it turned out to be useful and we were able to help. Welcome back any time! (Except Wednesdays! 😉 )

  24. Chris carroll says:

    Thank you.
    I travelled from Aberdeen to visit the John Gray centre, only to find that the centre is closed on Wednesdays. The staff who were in the centre were brilliant – understanding that I had travelled for 3 hours and they accommodated me on what was already going to be a busy day for them ( with school trips expected that day ) .
    The centre is a fantastic source of information and I have scratched the surface of the archives held.

    I will certainly be returning to continue my research ( will make sure not to plan for Wednesdays next time )

    Thanks again to the lady and gent (Alex) for your time and understanding.

  25. How can I find out if my brother-in-law lived and died in N. Berwick after
    the war? What sources can I search?

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