Created in 1692, Gladsmuir parish originally stretched to the Firth of Forth – about 10 square miles. It contained the villages of Gladsmuir, Longniddry, Macmerry, Elvingston and Samuelston.
Originally called ‘Gledsmuir’, its name meant ‘the moor of the kite or hawk’. It had limestone and coal deposits, and was also rich in clay and iron.
In the 19th century the parish was an industrial area. Samuelston and Longniddry were weaving villages, and there were iron works at Macmerry and limeworkings at Harlow. Bricks and roof tiles of a distinctive white colour were produced locally, while coal mines employed 50 colliers, 30 women and 36 boys in 1836. By 1924, however, mining had largely disappeared from the area, although open-cast mining continued at Blindwells until the 1970s.
The main road to London once ran through the parish, and later the railway lines to North Berwick and the south also passed through. During the 1900s the villages of Longniddry and Macmerry expanded greatly, overtaking Gladsmuir village in size and importance.
In the 19th century, the inhabitants of the parish looked to their community for support and entertainment. The period saw a flourishing of specialist societies – many people served as committee members or were otherwise involved. This list has been compiled from almanacs, guides and the pages of the Haddingtonshire Courier – more detail might be found by consulting our records.
|Itineratiing Library (Brown’s) (three units)||Library|
|Private Friendly Societies’||Mutual|
|Gladsmuir and Elvingstone Friendly Society||Friendly or mutual|
|Militia Friendly Society||Friendly or mutual|
|Association for Churchyard Protection aka Frame Society||Burial|
|Long Niddry Old Friendly Society||Friendly or mutual|
|Long Niddry New Friendly Society||Friendly or mutual|
|Court Menzies Longniddry AO Foresters||Unity mutual friendly|
|Penston Friendly Society||Friendly or mutual|
|Penston Mortcloth Society||Burial|
|Penston Coffin Society||Burial|
|Penston Yearly Society||friendly or mutual|
Today Gladsmuir is mainly agricultural. Its land is good for cereal production and arboriculture.
Statistical Accounts for 1793 and 1850s
East Lothian 1945-2000: Fourth Statistical Account, vol. 3, 2005
Jean Shirlaw, A Short History of the Parish of Gladsmuir, 1988/9
D.M. Robertson, Longniddry, 1993