The Massacre Of Tranent 1797

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Date: 29 Aug 1797
Surnames/tags: Scotland Tranent Massacre
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The Massacre of Tranent, 29 August 1797

Statue of Jackie Crookston,
Civil Square, Tranent, East Lothian

The goal of this project is to identify and honour those who were victims in the Massacre of Tranent in 1797.

While much has already been written regarding the Massacre of Tranent itself, the aim of this project is to concentrate on the people as opposed to the events of the day, to identify those who were involved and find a link to their families, rather than leaving them as only footnotes to a tragic page in Scottish history. The political and historical context of the massacre has not been well studied, so this will also be examined.


On 29 August 1797, following a protest in Tranent against the 1797 Militia Act, at least 22 people were killed. [1]

The East Lothian archives at the John Gray Centre in Haddington note: It's clear that the authorities were unprepared for the scale of the protest, that they attempted to press ahead after dismissing the populace’s appeal out of hand, that the military on hand was out of control very quickly, and that most of those killed and injured had taken no part in the events in Tranent itself. [2]

On the 18th anniversary of John Cadell's death, his son, Hew Francis Cadell. Esq, wrote in his diary: "20th January 1832.... I have had little time to pay thought to my father, John, who died this day 18 years ago. However he is likely not best remembered by the poor souls of Tranent, who will not look fondly on his actions during the riots and killings in 1797. A shameful moment and I never felt the same about him after that." [3]

The Political Background

Before the Great Reform Act of 1832, [4] the political system in the British Isles was unrepresentative and undemocratic with the outcome of general elections decided solely by the influence of the nobility and landed classes. Following the French Revolution of 1789, [5] pamphlets began to circulate stressing the requirement for reform to move towards a representative parliamentary democracy and Thomas Paine's 'The rights of man', published in 1792 also raised the awareness of the people. [6] Meanwhile, in Scotland in July 1792, The Friends of the People Society was formed and attracted a wide membership. [7] However, those in power had no wish to relinquish it and on 24 August 1793, one of the champions of the reform movement, Thomas Muir of Huntershill, was arrested and later sentenced to 14 years transportation. [8] Amongst this background, discontent began to grow amongst the ordinary non-enfranschised classes.

Militia in Scotland before 1797 and the Auld Alliance

In 1698, although in personal union with England under King William II of Scotland and III of England, the Kingdom of Scotland was still an independent country. It was feared by many that Scotland was in danger of being invaded by England, its more powerful southern neighbour and Andrew Fletcher of Saltoun, a Member of the Scottish Parliament, recommended that a Scottish militia be created to aid in the country's defence. [9]

The Franco Scottish Alliance
The oldest alliance in the world
General de Gaule, 23 June 1942.

Scotland had been a friend and ally of France for centuries. In 1942, while in Edinburgh, General de Gaule described the alliance between Scotland and France as "the oldest alliance in the world" and added: In every combat where for five centuries the destiny of France was at stake, there were always men of Scotland to fight side by side with men of France, and what Frenchmen feel is that no people has ever been more generous than yours with its friendship. More recently, in 2011 an academic suggested that the alliance may never have formally ended. [10]

Even after the Union of 1707 and the creation of the Kingdom of Great Britain, [11] the British Militia Act 1757 did not apply to "that part of the Kingdom of Great Britain named Scotland". The close ties between Scotland and France and the possibility of a revolutionary French landing in Scotland receiving local support made the raising of militia regiments throughout Scotland an urgent priority.

The Militia Act of 1797

The Militia Act of 1797 empowered the Lord Lieutenants of Scotland to raise and command militia regiments in each of the "Counties, Stewartries, Cities, and Places" under their jurisdiction. [12]

However, the attempt to impose the act in one district of Haddingtonshire (East Lothian) was handled so badly that it is recalled to this day as the Tranent Massacre. The militia was intended for home service but as this could include deployments to the south of England or even Ireland desertions and failure to deploy were endemic: the Haddington(shire) Local Militia didn’t form until 1808. [13]

In 1797, the County of Haddingtonshire (East Lothian) was split into four districts. District Four was a mining area and comprised the parishes of Pencaitland, Salton, Humbie, Ormiston, Tranent, Prestonpans and Gladsmuir. [13]

Men between the ages of 19 and 23 were to be balloted for militia service. Lists of those eligible were complied by local officials, often the parish schoolmaster and those concerned were summoned to appear before the Deputy Lieutenants of the County at Tranent by means of notices posted on the doors of the parish churches. Those who wished to express their opposition were also invited to attend. [1]

The Petition

An Uncooperative Person
Jackie Crookston.

The summonses led to protests against the Act that were led by Jackie Crookston and included the wives and families of those who were to be balloted. [1]

On 29 August 1797, a petition was delivered to four Deputy Lieutenants of the Country who were assembled at John Glen's Inn at Tranent to draw ballots to select local inhabitants for service in the militia. The document was signed by about thirty people in circular or "Round Robin" format and read:

Prestonpans, 28th August 1797.

To the honourable gentlemen assembled at Tranent for the purpose of raising 6000 militiamen in Scotland.

Gentlemen,—The following are the declarations and resolutions to which the undersigned do unanimously agree :

  1. We declare that we unanimously disapprove of the late Act of Parliament for raising- 6000 militiamen in Scotland.
  2. That we will assist each other in endeavouring to repeal the said Act.
  3. That we are peaceably disposed ; and should you in endeavouring to execute the said Act urge us to adopt coercive measures, we must look upon you to be the aggressors, and as responsible to the nation for all the consequences that may follow.
  4. Although we may be overpowered in effecting the said resolution, and dragged from our parents, friends, and employment, to be made soldiers of, you can infer from this what trust can be reposed in us, if ever we are called upon to disperse our fellow-countrymen or to oppose a foreign foe. [1]
First page of the Riot Act, (1715).

The petition was summarily dismissed by the four Deputy Lord Lieutenants, who threatened the bearer of being guilty of a flagrant breach of the law. [1]

John Cadell then proceeded to read the Riot Act. [1] This proclamation ordered the dispersal of any group of more than twelve people who were unlawfully, riotously, and tumultuously assembled together and gave them one hour to disperse, otherwise they would be guilty of a felony punishable by death. [14]

The Massacre

When the news that their petition would not be considered had spread, the women and children, who had been leading the protest retired to the back of the crowd, but they were not quick enough. After a stone had been thrown at the assembled troops, Captain Finlay of the Cinque Ports Light Dragoons ordered his men to draw their swords and ride down the crowd. This brutal order was most cruelly performed. Old men, women, and children, unable to get out of the way, were savagely crushed beneath the hoofs of the chargers. [1]

Meanwhile, a group of Pembrokeshire cavalry, all apparently the worse of liquor, rode up to the inn where the balloting had been taking place. The sergeant was so drink-taken that he fell off his horse. Seeing the drunken sergeant hit the ground, Major Wight assumed that his fall had been due to a thrown stone and shouted at the troops "Why don't you fire?" The soldiers immediately started firing on the crowd and at least six people were killed. [1]

The protestors dispersed from Tranent to the surrounding countryside but were pursued by the Cinque Port Light Dragoons, who went on a rampage through the area and attacked people randomly, including several who had not been involved in the protest and were simply going about their daily business. One eye-witness wrote to his wife that six people were killed in the town, and another 15 corpses had been discovered in the fields. More bodies were expected to be found after the corn was cut and many people had been injured. [1]

The Aftermath

The relatives of those murdered, backed by the Court of Justiciary, lodged a case for the prosecution of those responsible for the massacre, before the Lord Advocate. [1] He took no action, describing those who had been killed as such a dangerous mob as deserved more properly the name of an insurrection. [15]

In 1835, the Rev. Adam. Blair, minister of Ferry-Port-on-Craig and one of those attacked wrote: I was examined by the sheriff-substitute in Haddington, along with many others, with a view to the prosecution of the Lieutenancy. This is said to have been set on foot by some of the Whigs of the time; but the matter was dropt.

On the other hand, the common people were, at the insistence of the Lord Advocate, indicted and accused in his Majesty’s interest, for the crimes of mobbing, riot, and others.

The then Lord Advocate of Scotland was none other than Robert Dundas of Arniston (1758 – 1819), grandson of William Grant, Lord Prestongrange (1701–1764) and nephew of Henry Dundas, 1st Viscount Melville (1742 - 1811) "The Uncrowned King of Scotland".

Those Who Were Killed

According to Archibald Rodger, who wrote to his wife in Edinburgh on 30 August 1797, at least 21 people people had been killed including his sister. He wrote:

There were 6 persons shot dead on the spot, of which my sister was one, and she was shot within a door of a house in the town. The number of the wounded is not yet ascertained, but I am just now informed that fifteen corpses were found in the corn-fields, and it is not known how many more may be found when the corn is cut, as the Cinque Ports Cavalry patrolled through the fields and high roads to the distance of a mile or two miles round Tranent, and fired upon with their pistols, or cut with their swords, all and sundry that they met with. Several decent people were killed at that distance, who were going about their lawful business, and totaly unconcerned with; what was going on in the town.

I am informed that this was unprovocked on the part of the people, for they assembled peaceably by public intimation from the Lord Lieutenant and his deputies to state their objections, if they had any, to the roll ; but when they presented their petitions and certificates they were totaly rejected, especially by Mr Cadell, who told the people he would receive none of them, as they were determined to enforce the Act, and as the people insisted on being heard, he with his own hands pushed them from the door ; upon which some boys and women threw several stones at the windows. The assistance of the cavalry was immediately called for, and ordered to charge with sword in hand; and then followed the bloody business above related. But my hand can scarcely hold the pen longer to give you any further details.—I am, your loving husband, (Signed) A R . Tranent, August 30. [1]

Those who were killed include:

  1. John Adam, a collier, killed on the Haddington road while walking to Tranent to purchase necessities for his wife who was sick in bed after giving birth. [1] John Adam was the great (x6) grandfather of Crown Princess Mary of Denmark.
  2. Stephen Brotherston, killed when walking on the Ormiston road, about a mile from Tranent. [1]
  3. Joanna or "Jackie" Crookston(e), married to William Ross and the mother of four young children. She led the women protestors crying "No Militia!" and beating a drum. She also confronted Captain Finlay of the Cinque Ports Dragoons. [1] She was killed, but her body was not found until some time later, bringing the death toll to at least 22 people. There is a statue to her in the Civic Square in Tranent.
  4. George Elder, killed in the street in Tranent. [1] He is difficult to identify as there were six people named George Elder born in East Lothian between 1745 and 1777, five of whom could have been alive at the time of the massacre.
  5. William Hunter, shot on a house-top, adjoining to the inn. [1] William Hunter was a very common name in East Lothian, with 54 births between 1730 and 1797.
  6. William Kemp, aged 11, killed while walking on the road to Ormiston, a mile from Tranent. [1] He may have been the William Kemp who was baptised on 31 July 1785 in Pencaitland, the son of Charles Kemp and Janet Richardson.
  7. William Laidlaw, a farmer's servant, shot while working in the fields. [1] He may have been the William Ledlaw who was baptised on 26 October 1770 in Yester, the son of William Ledlaw and Elizabeth Wilson.
  8. William Lawson, a carpenter killed on the road from Ormiston to Tranent. [1] William Lawson was a common name with fifteen being born in East Lothian between 1748 and 1790.
  9. Alexander Moffat, servant to William Hunter, brewer in Pencaitland, killed in a field by the Pencaitland road. [1] There were five people named Alexander Moffat born in East Lothian between 1739 and 1790.
  10. Peter Ness, killed in a field to the south of Tranent. [1] There were five people named Peter Ness born in East Lothian between 1754 and 1789.
  11. Isabel Roger, Pursued by a dragoon into the passage of a house in Tranent, and there shot dead by him. [1] There were five people named Isabel, Isabell or Isobell Roger born in East Lothian between 1749 and 1788, three of them in Tranent.
  12. William Smith, killed on a stair in Tranent, opposite the inn. [1] There were 25 people named William Smith born in East Lothian between 1731 and 1790.

Those Who Were Injured

  1. Mary Allan, aged seventeen years of age, was chased through the streets and shot at. She fainted and was left for dead. The bullet missed her, but she received a severe wound on her forehead as a result of her fall. [1] She might be Marrion Allan baptised on 22 January 1782 in Humbie, daughter of John Allan and Christian Brown. They had an elder daughter of the same age, baptised on 28 May 1780, who presumably died in infancy.
  2. Adam Blair, a school-boy and native of Penston, who was stabbed when walking peaceably through a field to the north of Tranent and left for dead. He later became the Rev. Adam Blair, minister of Ferry-Port-on-Craig. [1] He died on 28 November 1840.
  3. John Blackie, a carter, shot and slashed by dragoons while walking peaceably along the Haddington road, near Annfield. [1] There were eight people named John Blackie born in East Lothian between 1736 and 1790.
  4. Mrs Carnegie of the house named Haldane's. Mr Carnegie was absent and Mrs Carnegie was assaulted by dragoons. [1]
  5. Janet Forsyth, aged sixteen years was returning to her father's house after working in a field near the village. She was pursued by dragoons and shot in the shoulder. The bullet remained there all her life. She was aunt to a later postmaster at Tranent, Mr John Forsyth. [1] She is believed to be the Janet Forsyth, daughter of Robert Forsyth and Janet Nielson, who was baptised in Tranent on 04 February 1781.
  6. William Kedzlie, who was working in a field at the back of Glen's Inn was shot through the ear. Kedzlie was the grandfather of Mrs Andrew Wilson, Tranent. [1] He may have been the William Kedzlie, son of John Kedzlie and Helen Brook who was baptised at Prestonpans on 10 June 1764.
  7. William Montgomery, aged over 70, was attacked while working close to where John Adam was killed on the Haddington road. An officer intervened and saved his life. [1]
  8. David Reid who lived for many years at Elphinstone, but spent the latter part of his life in Tranent. He was a baby on the day of the massacre. A number of miners from Elphinstone with their wives and little children had taken refuge in Peggy Robertson's dwelling, Wallace's two-storied block in the Coal Neuk. A dragoon burst into the house and seeing a lump hidden under the bed clothes, plunged his sword several times into the bed. One of the child's little fingers was severed at the second joint. [1] Not identified.
  9. Alexander Robertson, servant to James Clark, farmer at North Winton, attacked by dragoons while in a field on the southeast of Tranent. [1] There were 11 people named Alexander Robertson born in East Lothian between 1736 and 1781.
  10. Robert Ross, mason in Pencaitland, attacked when walking upon the high-road near Buxle. [1] There were six people named Robert Ross born in East Lothian between 1742 and 1781, two of them in Pencaitland.
  11. William Tait, aged seventeen, shot at and stabbed by four dragoons. [1] He is difficult to identify as there were five people named William Tait born in East Lothian from 1779 to 1780.
  12. An unnamed child was sitting on its father's shoulders clapping its hands when it was shot at and grazed on the head by the passing bullet, which hit the door lintel next to the coal office of Durie & Nisbet. [1]
  13. The unnamed farmer's wife at Adinstone was shot at by dragoons. While the ball missed her, the powder flash singed her face and nearly put one of her eyes out. [1]

Those Arrested

Thirty-six people were arrested and imprisoned in the tolbooth of Haddington. However many were subsequently released as the only witnesses against them were soldiers whose evidence was often contradictory. [1] Those arrested included:

  1. John Connel, coallier in Penston. Took refuge in the house of Francis Wilson, merchant until taken away by Captain Finlay and his troops. [16] Not identified.
  2. Francis Donaldson, coallier at Fallside. Took refuge in the house of Francis Wilson, merchant until taken away by Captain Finlay and his troops. [16] Possibly the father or brother of William Donaldson, below.
  3. William Donaldson, coallier at Fallside. Took refuge in the house of Francis Wilson, merchant until taken away by Captain Finlay and his troops. [16] He is believed to be the William Donaldson who married Margaret Howie on 02 April 1797 in Tranent. He named his eldest son Francis, so the Francis Donaldson above may have been his father or brother.
  4. Alison Duncan known as Elly, servant to John Davidson, coalier in Elphingston. Taken prisoner by Captain Finlay, imprisoned in the tolbooth of Haddington and tried in Edinburgh. [16]
  5. David Duncan a miner, father of Alison Duncan and one of the leaders of the protesters. He is referred to as "John" Duncan in McNeill's account but simply as "a man named Duncan" in others. [1] He attempted to have a discussion with Major Wight but was chased by the Major and their troops and arrested. He was outlawed for not appearing at his trial in Edinburgh, and his bailbonds declared to be forfeited. [16]
  6. Edward Henderson, from Penston. Took refuge in the house of Francis Wilson, merchant until taken away by Captain Finlay and his troops. [16] Not identified.
  7. James Henderson, from Penston. Took refuge in the house of Francis Wilson, merchant until taken away by Captain Finlay and his troops. [16] He is difficult to identify as there was more than one James Henderson living at Penston at that time.
  8. John King, coallier from Penston. Took refuge in the house of Francis Wilson, merchant until taken away by Captain Finlay and his troops. [16] He is believed to be John King, born 03 October 1770 in Penston, son of John King and Janet Duncan. On 05 April 1791 he married Janet Wilson, whose eldest sister had married Matthew Smith, who was another member of the party that had taken refuge in Francis Wilson's house.
  9. Robert Mitchell, servant, or late servant to Andrew Blair, corn-dealer, in Tranent. [16] There were 14 people named Robert Mitchell, or variants thereof, born in East Lothian between 1733 and 1788. According to his testimony, he declared that he was above the age (19 - 23) ascertained by the act for service in the militia. This would mean that he was 24 or older and on this basis he may have been either Robert Mitchell, baptised on 02 July 1773 in Gladsmuir, the son of James Mitchell and Marrion Burn, or Robert Mitchell, baptised on 21 June 1772 in Pencaitland, the son of John Mitchell and Margaret Lawson.
  10. John Nicolson, servant to Mr. Park, at Windymains. He stated that he had been summoned to appear at Tranent as his name was on the list of people to be balloted on the door of Humbie church. After arriving in Tranent and seeing what was happening there, he took shelter in the house of James Irvine, a cow-keeper, and only left after the sounds of shots had ended. He was arrested and taken prisoner when on his way home. [16] There were 14 people with variants of the name John Nicholson born in East Lothian between 1734 and 1786.
  11. William Reid, coallier. Took refuge in the house of Francis Wilson, merchant until taken away by Captain Finlay and his troops. [16] There were 12 people named William Reid, or variants thereof, born in East Lothian between 1732 and 1790. He may have been a brother-in-law of Francis Wilson, in whose house he took refuge.
  12. Neil Reidpath, servant, or late servant to George Dickson, tenant in Lampockwells.[16] Not identified.
  13. Mathew Smith, coallier from Penston. Took refuge in the house of Francis Wilson, merchant until taken away by Captain Finlay and his troops. [16] He may be the Matthew Smith who married Elizabeth Wilson on 03 August 1775 in Gladsmuir. Elizabeth's youngest sister Janet Wilson had married John King, who was another member of the party that had taken refuge in Francis Wilson's house.
  14. Francis Wilson, merchant in Tranent. He declared that he had given shelter to William Reid, coallier; John King, coallier, in Penston; John Connel, coallier in Penston; Mathew Smith, coallier in Penston; James Henderson and Edward Henderson, both from Penston ; William Donaldson, coallier at Fallside, and Francis Donaldson, also coallier at Fallside. He declared that they all entered his house an hour before the troubles began, and remained there until taken away by Captain Finlay and his troops. [16] It is possible that Francis Wilson was the brother-in-law of John King and Mathew Smith - their wives Elizabeth and Janet Wilson had a brother named Francis, born 03 August 1763 who was living in Tranent in 1794. Francis Wilson's wife was named Margaret Reid, so William Reid may also have been a brother-in-law. However, this Francis Wilson had been a Coalier on 04 February 1787. Could he have changed from digging coal to selling it?
  15. The farm at Adinstone was attacked by dragoons and the farmer, his wife, his brother, two servants, and two children, who were all completely unaware of events at Tranent, were carried off as prisoners. [1]

In addition:

  1. John Johnstone, the printer of the Scots Chronicle, had an action raised against him by the Lieutenancy of the County of Haddingtonshire (East Lothian) for a libel after he published an account of the events that did not agree with the official version of those in authority.

Others mentioned

  1. Andrew Blair, corn-dealer, in Tranent. His servant, Robert Mitchell, was arrested. [1]
  2. James Clark, farmer at North Winton. His servant, Alexander Robertson was attacked by dragoons while in a field on the southeast of Tranent. [1]
  3. John Davidson, coallier in Elphingston. Alison or "Elly" Duncan, one of those arrested, was his servant. [16]
  4. George Dickson, tenant in Lampockwells. His servant, Neil Reidpath, was arrested. [16]
  5. John Glen. Proprietor of the inn at Tranent where the balloting took place. [1]
  6. William Hunter, brewer in Pencaitland. His servant, Alexander Moffat was killed by the road near Pencaitland. [1]
  7. James Irvine, a cow-keeper. John Nicolson, servant to Mr. Park, at Windymains took shelter in his house.
  8. Mr. Park, at Windymains. John Nicolson, one of those arrested, was his servant. [16]
  9. Mr. Pringle, shop-keeper at Tranent. Alison or "Elly" Duncan, one of those arrested, had been sent by her mistress, Mrs Davidson, to get some sarken cloth. [16]
  10. Elizabeth Selkirk is believed to be the Tibby Selkry, whose house in Tranent Elly Duncan said she spent her time while the massacre was taking place. [16]
  11. William Symington, coal-grieve in Pencaitland. Was with Robert Ross, mason in Pencaitland, when the latter was attacked upon the high-road near Buxley. A dragoon rode up to William Symington, and threatened to kill him, but he was saved by an officer. [1]
  12. An unnamed brother of William Smith who was killed was pursued by dragoons and hid in some bushes, escaping with nothing but bruises. [1]
  13. Three unnamed people were watching the events from an upper flat when a dragoon fired at them. The shot missed them but the bullet hole remained to be seen for many years. [1]

Those Who Compiled The Lists Of Persons To be Balloted

  1. Robert Paisley, schoolmaster in Tranent. He compiled a the list of persons in the parish of Tranent who were liable do serve under the 1797 Milita Act. [1]
  2. David Graham, schoolmaster of Salton. He compiled a the list of persons in the parish of Salton who were liable do serve under the 1797 Milita Act. [1]
  3. Alexander Thomson, schoolmaster of Ormiston. He compiled a the list of persons in the parish of Salton who were liable do serve under the 1797 Milita Act. [1]
  4. Hugh Ramsay schoolmaster of Gladsmuir. He compiled a the list of persons in the parish of Gladsmuir who were liable do serve under the 1797 Milita Act. [1]
  5. Unknown schoolmaster of Pencaitland. He compiled a the list of persons in the parish of Pencaitland who were liable do serve under the 1797 Milita Act.
  6. Unknown schoolmaster of Humbie. He compiled a the list of persons in the parish of Humbie who were liable do serve under the 1797 Milita Act.
  7. Unknown schoolmaster of Prestonpans. He compiled a the list of persons in the parish of Prestonpans who were liable do serve under the 1797 Milita Act.

The Officials and Military Leaders Who Were Involved in the Massacre of Tranent

George Hay (1753-1804),
7th Marquis of Tweeddale.
George Hay, 7th Marquis of Tweeddale, the Lord-Lieutenant of the County of Haddingtonshire (East Lothian). He was not present, but on the night of 28 August 1797, the Marquis sent a message to Mr Anderson of Saint Germains commanding Major Andrew Wight to send his troop of yeomanry cavalry from at Port Seton to Haddington, and to attend at the balloting at Tranent. The 7th Marquis was the great-grandson of the 2nd Marquis and had inherited the title on 16 November 1787, succeeding his first cousin once removed who had died without an heir. [17] The 7th Marquis of Tweeddale had been appointed as Lord-Lieutenant of the County of Haddingtonshire (East Lothian) on 17 March 1794. [18]

Mr David Anderson of Saint Germains (1750 - 1825), Deputy Lieutenant of Haddingtonshire (East Lothian). [1] The family were descended from lawyers and clergymen in Edinburgh and Perthshire, but only became landed gentry at the time of his father, David Anderson (1707 - 1786) who was able to purchase Inchyra in Perthshire. This David Anderson's second son, David Anderson of Saint Germains (1750-1825) served in the East India Company. He was a close friend of Warren Hastings, the first de facto Governor-General of India from 1772 to 1785, who was accused of corruption and impeached in 1787. David Anderson returned from India in 1785 with £50,000 which he used to purchase the Saint Germains estate in East Lothian, a house that had originally been owned by Lord Seton. Saint Germains passed to his son, David Anderson (1791 - 1869) and then to his grandson, Lt-Col. James Warren Hastings Anderson (1836- 1896). He sold Saint Germains in 1874 and purchased instead Bowerhouse near Dunbar. The childless David Murray Anderson (1867 - 1944), who inherited Bowerhouse, sold it in 1939. In 1911, his younger brother, Major Robert Warren Hastings Anderson (1875 - 1969) purchased Northfield House in Colinsburgh, Fife, which remains in the family. Saint Germains was purchased by the Scottish brewing family, the Tennents, before being used an convalescent home for RAF airmen during the WWII. [19][20]

Mr John Cadell of Cockenzie (1740 - 1814), Deputy Lieutenant of Haddingtonshire (East Lothian). [1] Like David Anderson of Saint Germains, the family of John Cadell of Cockenzie was Nouveau riche. He was a younger son of William Cadell who founded the Carron Iron works in Stirlingshire along with two English partners. His grandfather William Caddell (with two "d"s) was first recorded as a journeyman glazier who was employed by James Hogg, a burgess of Haddington. The first William married James Hogg's daughter Anna Hog on 13 July 1701. William Caddell became a freeman of the town of Haddington on 26 June 1704. By the time he died, aged 59, on 20 May 1728, he was described as a "merchant". William Caddell is buried in Saint Mary's Church yard in Haddington. [21] Following Sir Walter Scott's bankruptcy, Robert Cadell, the fifth son of John Cadell of Cockenzie, purchased the copyright to Sir Walter's novels jointly with the author and they produced a new edition of the Waverley novels which including new material penned by Scott. [22] One of John Cadell of Cockenzie's grandsons was Col. Thomas Cadell, who won a Victoria Cross during the during the Indian Mutiny. [23] The Scottish actress Jean Cadell (13 September 1884 – 24 September 1967) [24] who is possibly best known for her role in Whisky Galore, was the great (x2) granddaughter of John Cadell of Cockenzie, while her actor grandchildren Simon Cadell [25] (Hi-di-Hi) and Selina Cadell [26] are his great (x4) grandchildren.

Mr Andrew Gray of Southfield, Deputy Lieutenant of Haddingtonshire (East Lothian). [1]

Major Andrew Wight, Deputy Lieutenant of Haddingtonshire (East Lothian). He was the commander of the troop of 22 Yeomanry Cavalry from the barracks at Port Seton who accompanied John Cadell from Saint Germains to Tranent. The Major himself was from nearby Ormiston. [1]

Robert Jenkinson, Lord Hawkesbury in the 1790s
later 2nd Earl of Liverpool & Prime Minister.
Robert Jenkinson, Lord Hawkesbury was the commander of the Cinque Ports Light Dragoons but, the town of Tranent appearing to him to be peaceful, he rode off to Haddington, leaving his troops under the command of Captain Finlay. It was believed that had he taken the trouble to remain, his presence might have prevented the outrages committed by his dragoons. [1] At the time of the Peterloo Massacre 22 years later, where 11–15 were killed and 400–700 injured, Jenkinson was 2nd Earl of Liverpool and Prime Minister. His government declared its support for the actions taken by the magistrates and the army and ordered a crackdown on reform. [27] Although twice married, the 2nd Earl of Liverpool had no children and upon his death, the title went to his younger half-brother Charles Cecil Cope Jenkinson, 3rd Earl of Liverpool. The 3rd Earl only had daughters, so upon his death the Earldom of Liverpool (first creation) became extinct.

Captain David Finlay of the Cinque Ports Light Dragoons. He was accompanied by 24 troopers from Haddington. [1]

Captain John Price with eighty members of the Pembrokeshire cavalry from Musselburgh. Some of them were apparently the worse of liquor. [1]

The Legal Officers

  1. The Lord Advocate, Robert Dundas of Arniston (1758 – 1819), nephew of Henry Dundas, 1st Viscount Melville (1742 - 1811) "The Uncrowned King of Scotland". He took no action against the perpetrators of the atrocity but insisted on prosecuting in his Majesty’s interest the common people who he stated were guilty of "the crimes of mobbing, riot, and others".
  2. Alexander Ritchie, W.S., was employed to take precognitions, with a view to prosecuting those responsible for the massacre. Alexander Ritchie laid the precognitions before the Lord Advocate who lodged a complaint against him, but the complaint was dismissed by the Court of Justiciary as incompetent.

Map & Contemporary Account

A map detailing where some of bodies were found was recently discovered in the East Lothian County Archives at the John Gray centre in Haddington. [2] Follow this link to view the map: Map showing were bodies were found around Tranent,

The Archive also holds a contemporary account, written from the point of view of the authorities. Narrative of the Proceedings at Tranent on Tuesday the 29th of August.

Jackie Crookston as The Mockingjay?

Some fans of The Hunger Games [28] have pointed out striking similarities between fact and fiction. They note that in both The Hunger Games and The Massacre of Tranent, young people were balloted upon the orders of a remote and autocratic government in order to be taken away from their families and fight for a cause that was not their own. In both, the figurehead for the resistance was a strong young woman; in the Hunger Games, it was Katniss Everdeen, the Mockingjay, while in Tranent, it was Jackie Crookston crying "No Militia", beating her drum, and confronting Captain Finlay of the Cinque Ports Light Dragoons. In both, the government had divided the area into Districts. Katniss Everdeen was from District Twelve while Jackie Crookston was from District Four; District Twelve and District Four were both mining districts. However the endings to the stories were very different. In the Hunger Games Trilogy, those responsible paid for their crimes, whereas none of those responsible for The Massacre of Tranent were ever prosecuted.


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 1.16 1.17 1.18 1.19 1.20 1.21 1.22 1.23 1.24 1.25 1.26 1.27 1.28 1.29 1.30 1.31 1.32 1.33 1.34 1.35 1.36 1.37 1.38 1.39 1.40 1.41 1.42 1.43 1.44 1.45 1.46 1.47 1.48 1.49 1.50 1.51 1.52 1.53 1.54 1.55 1.56 Tranent and Its Surroundings. Ecclesiastical,Historical & Traditional. By P. McNeill, Tranent. Author of "The Battle of Preston and Other Poems and Songs." - "The Parish Beadle" - "Sandy Glen" - "Adventures of Geordie Borthwick" &c, &c. Second Edition. Edinburgh & Glasgow. John Menzies & Co. Tranent: Peter McNeill. 1884. p138-158.
  2. 2.0 2.1 John Gray Centre Blog, Making Connections
  3. Hew Francis Cadell. Esq, personal papers held at Inveresk House, Musselburgh
  4. Wikipedia, entry on The Representation of the People Act 1832
  5. Wikipedia, entry on The French Revolution
  6. The Rights of Man by Thomas Paine
  7. Wikipedia, entry on The Friends of the People Society in Scotland
  8. Wikipedia, entry on Thomas Muir of Huntershill
  9. A Discourse of Government with Relation to Militias, Andrew Fletcher (1698) ISBN 0-521-43994-9
  10. Franco-Scottish alliance against England one of longest in history
  11. Wikipedia entry on Acts of Union 1707
  12. Anno Tricesimo Septimo George III Regis. CAP. CIII. An Act to Raise Militia in that part of the Kingdom of Great Britain named Scotland 19 July 1797
  13. 13.0 13.1 John Gray Centre Blog, The Military System in East Lothian 1790–1850
  14. Wikipedia entry on Riot Act
  15. Robert Dundas letter to Portland, 26 December 1797 (Logue)
  16. 16.00 16.01 16.02 16.03 16.04 16.05 16.06 16.07 16.08 16.09 16.10 16.11 16.12 16.13 16.14 16.15 16.16 16.17 16.18 The Edinburgh Magazine, or Literary Miscellany for September 1797, p314.
  17. Wikipedia, entry on the 7th Marquis of Tweedale
  18. Wikipedia, entry on the Lord Lieutenants of East Lothian
  19. Saint Germains House
  20. Landed families of Britain and Ireland - Anderson of Saint Germains and Bowerhouse
  21. The Cadells of Grange & Cockenzie (entries sourced using ScotlandsPeople)
  22. Wikipedia, entry Robert Cadell
  23. Wikipedia, entry for Thomas Cadell
  24. Wikipedia, entry for Jean Cadell
  25. Wikipedia, entry for Simon Cadell
  26. Wikipedia, entry for Selina Cadell
  27. Wikipedia, entry on the Peterloo Massacre
  28. Wikipedia, entry on The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

Also see:

"The Tranent Massacre" by Sandy Mullay (East Lothian District Library, 1997).

John Gray Centre, Map showing were bodies were found around Tranent

John Gray Centre, Narrative of the Proceedings at Tranent on Tuesday the 29th of August

Electric Scotland, Sketches of Tranent in the Olden Times. By J. Sands (1881) Chapter V. The Massacre

Scottish Mining Site Dreadful Riot and Military Massacre at Tranent, on the First Balloting for the Scots Militia for the County of Haddington. Chapter from The Lamp of Lothian, or, The history of Haddington: in connection with the public affairs of East Lothian and of Scotland, from the earliest records to the present period. By James Miller, 1844.

Wikipedia entry on The Massacre of Tranent

The National Scotland Back in the Day: The ‘battle’ of Tranent was really a massacre published 29 August 2017

ScotlandsPeople This site is used for sourcing records.

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