The name Oldhamstocks has Anglo-saxon origins (meaning the farm of or by the old homestead); it had a priest in the 12th century and a church was consecrated 1242. A branch of the Hepburns acquired superiority of the parish by the 16th century but later the principal landowners were the Halls of Dunglass.
Oldhamstocks Parish is the easternmost parish of East Lothian. It has a short coastal strip to the north and is bordered by Innerwick on the west and Berwickshire on the east and south. In the 19th century a scant six landowners held most of the 6000 acres in the parish. The parish is long and thin, trending southwestward from the northern coastal portion, and terminates in a southeasterly oriented ‘dogleg’; at one time a detached portion was in Berwickshire. Fertile arable land borders the coast but the trend is to pastoral on the higher, inland parts of the parish. Dunglass Dean on the eastern edge provides a ‘green corridor’ between coastal and lowland portion and the Lammermuirs to the south. The population peaked at over 700 in the 1830s but is under 200 at the present time. John Broadwood, a significant early piano manufacturer, was born in the village and the radical and campaigner Alexander Somerville knew it well.
The coastal strip is traversed by the A1 Trunk Road and the main east coast railway but the village itself is well hidden, lying on the south facing flank of a ‘hidden valley’, and reached only by minor country roads. No shops remain in the village, the school is long closed and the Church is now part of the united Dunglass Parish which also takes in Cockburnspath and Innerwick.
The economy of the parish remains mostly agricultural and there is little trace remaining in the village of the rural industries (smiths, farriers, wrights, and masons) that supported the parochial farms. Timber plantations and grouse moors predominate in the inland parts where also wind turbines are an increasingly common sight.
East Lothian Fourth Statistical Account 1945-2000: The parishes of Dunbar, Innerwick, Oldhamstocks, Spott, Stenton. vol 6
Sally Smith, Cockburnspath: a history of a people and a place: including: Cove, Dunglass, Old Cambus, Oldhamstocks, Bilsdean, Tower and Pease, Cockburnspath, 1999
Keith Snell, The whistler at the plough, Alexander Somerville 1811-1885, London 1989