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Help and advice for Haddington

If you have found a problem on this page then please report it on the following form. We will then do our best to fix it. If you are wanting advice then the best place to ask is on the area's specific email lists. All the information that we have is in the web pages, so please do not ask us to supply something that is not there. We are not able to offer a research service.

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"HADDINGTON, a parish, containing a royal burgh of its own name, and the hamlets of Abbey and St Laurence, in the centre of Haddingtonshire. It is bounded by Aberlady, Athelstaneford, Prestonkirk, Morham, Yester, Bolton, Salton, and Gladsmuir ... Its superficial area is about 22 1/2 square miles."

"HADDINGTON, a royal burgh, a town of great antiquity, and the metropolis of East Lothian, is pleasantly situated within a bend of the Tyne, and on the left bank of the river, surrounded on all sides by a landscape rich in the beauties of nature and of art, and overlooked at a little distance to the north by the soft sylvan declvity of the Garleton hills ... Though comparatively small in bulk, and though, for a long time, mean or indifferent in appearance, it is now one of the neatest, best-built, and most cheerful towns of Scotland"
[From the Imperial Gazetteer of Scotland, edited by John Marius Wilson, 1868]

A lengthier description is available.


Archives and Libraries

Many local records may be consulted at the East Lothian District Library's Local History Centre at Newton Port in Haddington.



"Haddington: Royal Burgh: A History and a Guide"
compiled by Haddington's History Society and Haddington Remembered
published by Tuckwell Press in 1997, ISBN 1862320004 (188 pages)

"Street Biographies of the Royal Burgh of Haddington"
David Dick
1997, ISBN 0 9530274 0 6


Business and Commerce Records

See The records of a Scottish cloth manufactory at New Mills, Haddingtonshire, 1681-1703, edited by W. R. Scott and largely based upon original manuscript material. It was published by the Scottish History Society (volume 46) in 1905 in Edinburgh and consists of 366 pages. This publication is also available through the LDS family history centres catalogue.

See also Occupations .


Church History

St Mary's Parish Church in Haddington has a website, as does the West Church.

Street Biographies of the Royal Burgh of Haddington by David Dick (see the Names,Geographical section below) includes an account of the churches of Haddington.

The following quotation comes from the Imperial Gazetteer of Scotland , edited by John Marius Wilson and published in 1868. This reference was found in volume II, page 25:

"The parish church is supposed to have been built in the 12th or 13th century, and was last repaired in 1811, and contains 1,260 sittings. There is also a church connected with the Establishment, called St John's; but it is not at present used for public worship. There are two Free churches - St John's, with 862 sittings, and Knox's, with 385 sittings ... There are two United Presbyterian churches, the East and the West, with respectively 549 and 450 sittings. There are also an Independent chapel, with 240 sittings, an Episcopalian chapel, with 279 sittings, and a Roman Catholic place of meeting; and there were formerly places for Methodists and for Baptists."

Some photos of the churches of Haddington are now available. More to follow!


Church Records

The parish church (Church of Scotland) has registers dating from 1619. Old Parish Registers (before 1855) are held in the General Register Office for Scotland in Edinburgh, and copies on microfilm may be consulted in local libraries and in LDS Family History Centres around the world. Later parish registers (after 1855) are often held in the Scottish Record Office as are any records of non-conformist churches in the area (often unfilmed and unindexed, and only available there).

Registers for the East United Presbyterian Church are available in LDS family history centres around the world. These include christenings for 1851-1885 and marriages for 1851-1895.


Civil Registration

Registration of Births, Marriages and Deaths began in Scotland on 1st January 1855. For details of these and other records held at the General Register Office in Edinburgh, see the GRO tutorial .


Description and Travel

See the Haddington website created by the Haddington and District Community Council.

John Woods 1819 series of town maps, including Haddington, was accompanied by a book describing the towns he mapped. This is available from the internet archive. The map itself can be found on the NLS website.

You can see pictures of Haddington which are provided by:



Extracts for this parish from the 1868 National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland are available.

Ask for a calculation of the distance from Haddington to another place.

Click here for a list of nearby places.



  • A Short History of Haddington
    by W. Forbes Gray
    First published in 1944 by East Lothian Antiquarian & Field Naturalists' Society.
    Reprinted in 1995 in paperback by SPA Books Ltd., PO Box 47, Stevenage, Herts., England. ISBN 0-907590-5403.
  • The lamp of Lothian: the history of Haddington
    by James Miller
    published 1905 at Edinburgh.
  • Reminiscences of the royal burgh of Haddington and old East Lothian agriculturists
    by John Martine
    published at Edinburgh, 1883 (413 pages) Republished in 2000, and avaialable through East Lothian Libraries.
  • Recollections of a Haddington octogenarian, 1793-1815
    by John Richardson
    published at Edinburgh, 1905
  • Old Haddington
    notes on the layout of the town written in 1830 by Peter Martine (1775-1865), postmaster there, and edited by T.C. Martine
    published in the Transactions of the East Lothian Antiquarian and Field Naturalists' Society, 12th volume (1970), pp. 57-60.

See also the Names,Geographical section.


Land and Property

The burgh registers for Haddington include several records relating to land and property, in particular the sasine registers which record changes in ownership of land. These cover the years 1671-1874 and the originals can be consulted in the Scottish Record Office in Edinburgh. Copies can also be consulted on microfilm in LDS family history centres around the world.


Law and Legislation

Burgh registers for Haddington are held in the Scottish Record Office in Edinburgh. Copies of these can also be consulted on microfilm in LDS family history centres around the world. The records include sasine registers, burgess and guild books, and many craft books.

For early charters and writs for Haddington, see Charters and writs concerning the royal burgh of Haddington, 1318-1543, compiled by J.G.Wallace-Green and published at Haddington in 1895 (48 pages). Copies will be available in local repositories in Scotland, and this item is also included in the LDS catalogue, so it may be possible to order it through your nearest LDS family history centre.


Military History

The names recorded on the Haddington War Memorial have been transcribed.


Names, Geographical

See Street Biographies of the Royal Burgh of Haddington by David Dick, published in 1997 by Clerkington Publishing Company, Haddington, ISBN 0 9530274 0 6. This 238 page book gives the history behind many of the streets and mansion houses in Haddington, including the people who gave them their names, and the people who lived there. The appendices cover the history of churches and education in Haddington, and also include a list of Provosts from 1296 to 1975.



The burgh registers of Haddington include a lot of occupational records e.g. records of burgesses and also the minute books of crafts such as baxters (1582-1684), cordiners (1605-1755), fleshers (1741-1836) and the wrights and masons (1616-1783). The original records are held in the Scottish Record Office in Edinburgh, and microfilm copies of the records can be viewed in LDS family history centres around the world.

A number of additional records survive including: (source of info: National Register of Archives ):

See also Business and Commerce Records .


Poor Houses, Poor Law etc.

A poor house was established in Haddington by 1855. This initially had accommodation for around 10 men and 10 women. Records may be available from the John Gray Centre.

The location can be seen on old maps from the National Library of Scotland, for example, the 1895 Ordnance Survey map.



Here are some figures showing the parish's population through time:

Year Population
1755 3975
1801 4049
1831 5833
1841 5452
1861 5548
1871 5735
1881 5660
1891 5216
1901 5125


Street Biographies of the Royal Burgh of Haddington by David Dick (see the Names,Geographical section above) includes a history of education in Haddington.


Social life and Customs

An article giving a glimpse into late 18th century Haddington life is The Bell Inn and the Fairbairns of Haddington by Margaret Elliot, published in the Transactions of the East Lothian Antiquarian and Field Naturalists' Society, 14th volume (1974), pp.29-36. The Bell Inn was one of the coaching inns in the town and a number of account and note books from the 18th century have survived to this day. The article gives an account of the Fairbairn family which owned the inn but also describes a lot of the local patrons and includes extracts from the surviving records.



For a social and economic record of the parishes of East Lothian together with considerable statistical material, see Sir John Sinclair's Statistical Account of Scotland, which was compiled in the 1790s. Follow-up works to this were the New Statistical Account (also known as the Second Statistical Account) which was prepared in the 1830s and 1840s; and more recently the Third Statistical Account which has been prepared since the Second World War.

Thanks to a joint venture between the Universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh the First and Second Statistical Accounts can now be accessed on-line at The Statistical Accounts of Scotland, 1791-1799 and 1845.