Best Days of Your Life? Teachers

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We can all remember teachers from our past and their different “personalities”.  If we go further back in time, there were teachers from East Lothian who made their mark on their mark in ways that pupils would never forget.  There may be a similarity between Miss Halyburton of Haddington  and the fictitious Miss Jean Brodie.  However, the gentleman who was a teacher at Prestonpans was probably known more for his murky and dark deeds rather than educating his pupils in the three R’s.

In the early 1800s Miss Jenny Halyburton kept, in Bothwell Castle in Hardgate Street, the principal school for young girls, and most of the old Haddington ladies received their first education there.  The fact of having been at Miss Jenny’s school formed a bond of love and friendship in future years among her scholars.  Miss Jenny, by all accounts, was a good teacher and much respected, but she was a strict disciplinarian, and any great neglect of lessons or misbehaviour was punished by confinement for some time in Bothwell’s kitchen.

Dr John Fian, or Feane, who is also know by the name of John Cunninghame, (died 16 December 1591) was Master of the School at Prestonpans.  He was accused, along with Agnes Sampson and others, of raising storms to sink the fleet returning King James VI of Scotland, and his wife Anne of Denmark, from their wedding celebrations in Oslo.  He was arrested and put to torture, in what would become known infamously as the North Berwick witch trials.

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Dunbar Burgh School teachers, c 1911. The headmaster Mr Comrie is seated in the front row, but the most feared man in the school was the uniformed drill instructor, Sergeant Major Dann.




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