A Short History of Stonyhill or Stonihill

The following text was transcribed from the book (per Google Books) History of the Regality of Musselburgh: With Numerous Extracts From The Town Records. by James Paterson, Published in 1857 by James Gordon, 15 Bridge St., Musselburgh.

Pages 186-189.


"The houses upon the west side thereof," according to Macfarlane, "were Newtoun, Monktoun, Monktounhall, Stoniehill, and the toun of Fisherrow."

Newton is not within the parish as its boundaries are now settled. Monkton House is situated at the southern verge of it. It is a modern mansion; but attached to it, as farm-offices, is an old structure, which, according to Dr. Moir, tradition says was built by General Monk while in Scotland, and which was his favourite residence: hence the name of Monkton. This, however, is mere gossip. Munketun is mentioned in one of the early charters of the Abbey of Dunfermline, of the lands of Pontekyn, to "Willio filio Ingeram, filii Edmundi, filii Forn, et suis heredibus," &c. The name, as in other places, was no doubt derived from its being the residence of some of the clergy in Roman Catholic times. It is mentioned, together with Monktonhall, in the rental of Dunfermline in 1561, a century before General Monk's time.

Monktonhall is a cluster of houses, about a mile south of the old bridge, on the road to Dalkeith. When the Scottish army lay encamped, at the Raid of Musselburgh, in 1547, a Parliament was convoked at Monktonhall, wherein it was enacted that the nearest heir of any person who should fall in the battle, if an ecclesiastic, should receive a gift of his benefice, and if a layman, have his ward, non-entresse, relief, and marriage, free. The village is pleasantly situated on the rising ground overlooking the Shirehaugh. A lane at the west end of Market-gate, southward, is called Campie-lane, from its having, we should suppose, led either to the old Roman or more modern Scottish encampment. Monktonhall belongs to the Earl of Wemyss.

STONYHILL, a short distance south-west of the Old Bridge, is also the property of the Earl. "The last remains of the original mansion," says Dr Moir, "were taken down during 1838, and the materials exhibited every mark of a hoar antiquity. The wood work in the walls was literally reduced to must, and some curious stones were exposed which had been built in over one of the mantel-pieces. The present occupant, Mr Park, caused a large block then found, and which exhibits a striking petrifaction of the roots of a tree, to be placed for the sake of preservation in the garden wall, where it is now to be seen."

The earliest proprietor whom we find mentioned is Jacobi Hammilloun, who had a charter of Stanehill from the Abbot of Dunfermline between 1555 and 1583. Next Joanis Fairlie had a charter of confirmation of Stainehill, 3rd July 1598. Richardi Dobie et Mariote Weir, sue sponse, had a charter, "terrarum de Staniehill," dated 10th July 1600. Richard and Robert Dobie had a charter of Staniehill, 8th August 1609. In 1626 Robert Dobie, "hasres Domini Roberti Dobie de Stannyhill, militis, patris," was retoured in the lands of Stonyhill and Monktonhall. On the 8th September 1647, Robert Dobie of Stainyhill won the silver arrow of Musselburgh for the third time. The same gentleman apparently had service of heirship of "sixteen oxgates of land in Monktonhall."

According to Dr Carlisle, Stonyhill was acquired from the Dobies by Sir William Sharpe, son of [other published documents say brother of] the Archbishop of St Andrews, who was murdered on Magus Muir on his way home from a visit to his son. In 1668, there is a disposition by Mr William Sharpe of Stonyhill, in favour of the Magistrates of Musselburgh, of a property near Newbigging, called Hallis Wallis; and in 1670 (25th August) there is a precept of sasine in his favour of the same property.

Nearer our own times, it belonged to the notorious Colonel Charteris. In the inventory of the town's papers, though the document itself has been lost, there is "a declaration and oblidgement by Col. Charteris's factor, concerning the settling the marches betwixt the lands of Stonyhill, on the one side, where a bridge is built on the Col.'s expenses, and the community of Musselburgh, on the other," dated 13th December 1728. The Colonel was a gambler and libertine of the most unblushing character. He was tried at the Old Bailey, London, on the 25th February 1730, for deforcement of one of his servant girls, and condemned to be executed. His friends interfering, the King pardoned him upon his settling a handsome annuity on his victim. He found it necessary, however, to retire from the public, and lived chiefly at Stonyhill, where, it is said, he indulged in all licentiousness till his death in 1732. Notwithstanding his gallantries, he was miserly in his disposition, and acquired a princely fortune, chiefly by gambling. Dr Pitcairn wrote a severe epitaph upon him.

At the death of Colonel Charteris, says Dr Moir, "it is traditionally recorded here, that the populace assembled in the avenue down which the funeral procession of that wretched person had to pass, and bespattered the hearse with filth and garbage." The avenue, though interrupted by the railway, is still spacious, and exhibits some fine old trees.

"The existing mansion-house of Stonyhill," continues Dr Moir, "appears to have been originally the offices of the ancient villa; * and behind it are the garden and orchard, enclosed by a gigantic buttressed wall, apparently of great age. A mulberry tree in one of the walks may well have been coeval with that of Shakspeare."

Colonel Francis Charteris of Amisfield and Gosford -- an old family in Haddingtonshire -- married a daughter of Sir Alexander Swinton, and had an only daughter, Janet, married, in 1720, to James, fourth Earl of Wemyss, whose second son assumed the name of Charteris, and inherited the maternal estates. In this way the properties of Stonyhill and Monktonhall came into the Wemyss family.

"The gardens of Stonyhill and Monktonhall," says Dr Moir, "appear to have been among the earliest in this part of the island; and entries in the household books of Dalkeith Palace shew that vegetables and fruits were procured from the latter upwards of two centuries ago."

There is a curious entry in Arnot's Criminal Trials on the breaking of gardens:-- "John Rait and Alexander Dean were indicted at the instance of his Majesty's Advocate for breaking into the gardens of Barnton, Pilton, Banbrugh, Greycrook, Craigiehall, and Carlowrie, and stealing thence herbs, artichoke plants, sybous -- i.e., young onions -- and bee-hives. They had formerly been convicted before an inferior judicature for breaking gardens in the neighbourhood of Musselburgh; and by warrant of the Privy Council they were sentenced to be taken to the Burgh Muir of Edinburgh and there hanged, 1623."

* Since the Doctor wrote a new house has been built near the old site.


Pages 213-214:
  1. Sacred to the memory of Andrew Dobie, born in the parish of Tinwald, Dumfriesshire, June 21, 1850; died at Hallcross House, Fisherrow, Aug. 27, 1837. Also Elizabeth Lawson, relict of the above, born in Bellingham, Northumberland, Sept. 5, 1750; died at Edinburgh, April 23, 1839.