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Location: Haddingtonshire, Scotlandmap
Surnames/tags: Runciman Whapknow, Auldham, Auldhame, Aldham, Aldhame, Seacliff, Seacliffe
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Whaupknow was a cluster of farm cottages belonging to Aldhame Farm, Haddingtonshire, Scotland dating from at least the 1600s, quite possibly much earlier. The cottages fell victim to the building & development of Seacliff House on the Aldhame estate & farm sometime in the 1700s, thought to be around 1780.

The parish baptism register of St Baldred’s Church in Tynninghame records Richard Runciman & Jennet Gourlay living at Whaupknow(e), where they worked & brought up their family in the early to mid-1700s. They were among the last people to live there before the cottages were knocked down. This profile relates the research on lost Whaupknow - its location, what can be determined of life there & its eventual disappearance.


The Runciman Family at Whaupknow

Their eldest son William’s 1729 baptism record (above) is the first mention of Whaupknow in the family. It states:

'William S.L. [SL=Son Lawful, ie the child's parents are married] to Richard Runciman and Jennet Gourlay in Whaup know:

Witnesses James Williamson in Scohougal [Scoughall] & James Barrie in Muttonholl [Muttonhole] : March 23rd'

William’s parents had married in 1728, recorded in North Berwick parish church; the marriage entry describes them only as ‘of this parish’ with no additional description provided. The parish extended beyond the town so it may be that Richard was already living & working on the land. The couple had 9 children all born at Whaupknow between 1729 and 1746:

At some time between then & now Whaupknow slipped from Runciman verbal history, unknown to the recent generations. Current research has found only one male line of descendancy from Richard - ’Orphan John’ (OJ) was Richard & Jennet's only known grandson left to carry on the Runciman name (there are also descendants from their granddaughters). OJ lost his father when he was 2 and his grandfather Richard was already aged 64 when he took over the orphans’ welfare; it’s highly possible OJ was relatively young when he lost his grandfather. If so, perhaps OJ never really learned anything of his father’s upbringing, leaving him with no family stories of substance to pass on to his own children. Admittedly this theory is flawed by the fact he had sisters plus aunts & an uncle, most of whom we know very little. Whatever the reason, it appears that no descendant branch of OJ’s children carried down a family folklore connection to Haddingtonshire (East Lothian), far less Whaupknow, or indeed other family history before OJ himself [A]. This implies the break in knowledge started at OJ, but this is conjecture.

It took time to decipher from William’s baptism entry the actual birthplace recorded. Finally Whaupknow was found to be the correct interpretation, substantiated by its existence on a John Adaire map, redrawn in 1734 from Adaire's original graphics dated 1680. Old maps were not absolutely precise but it gives a reasonably good indication of its whereabouts.

Since that initial discovery the former site is now pinpointed precisely, making it the oldest specific location traced to an ancestor on the Crail lineage.

It seems it was not only the Runciman family who lost touch with the it. There is no evidence of Whaupknow's existence other than in some of the old maps of the time. Most present-day locals are unaware of the name.

What was Whaupknow?

In the old map a faint depiction of Whaupknow can be seen in which it could be interpreted as a small cluster of 4 or 5 buildings. They are farm cottages belonging to the farm at Aldhame whose ultimate landlord at the time was George Suttie (at some point his surname changed to Grant-Suttie) and the tenant farmer was Hugh Brounfield/Brownfield [1].

The typical farm cottage consisted of a 1 storey stone building with 1 fireplace and access to a small piece of land on which to eek out wages by growing vegetables at subsistence level. On this same small plot sheep were kept for wool and a cow to provide milk. Fish would have been caught to supplement the diet. The Aldhame tenant farmer Hugh Brounfield paid rent to the landlord George Suttie in kind, and in turn Brounfield would collect a rental in kind from Runciman & the other Whaupknow employees [1].

The area was rich agricultural land with good husbandry. It is said that Peter the Great may have visited Haddingtonshire specifically to learn from its agricultural success. Aldhame itself was a largely arable farm although there were probably also some sheep and/or 1 or 2 cattle kept. [1]


Old maps of the time

The Whaupknow cottages were built between Aldhame & Scoughall farms (pronounced Skoal), in what was originally Aldhame parish. Long before Richard & Jennet’s time, in 1618, the parish had merged with Tynninghame parish. Both these farms are recorded as locations of witnesses to Runciman family baptisms.

First mapped evidence of a Whaupknow location?

Possibly the earliest mapped reference is to be found in an engraved version in 1736 of John Adair's Map, in which 'Whapeknow' (circled in red, above) is depicted as 3 or 4 buildings where a faint boundary line can just be discerned surrounding them. The area indicated is noticeably smaller than those of the two neighbouring farms. A direct track appears to lead between Aldhame & Whaupknow in contrast to none to Scoughall, reinforcing the working relationship. However what looks like the path may just be the delineation of farm or other boundaries. [TD thoughts?]

Another community, the interestingly named Muttonhole, lies nearby to the west. It is not shown on Adair’s map. 'Halflongbarns', of possible interest in the schooling section, is depicted slightly north west of ‘Whapeknow’.

View of a larger surrounding area showing several locations of interest in Runciman history. From N to S, North Berwick (parish church R&J's marriage/orphan marriages, burials), Castleton (farm/orphans with Richard), Halflongbarns (children's school), Whaupknow (Richard's cottage), Tynninghame (parish church/baptisms & burials). The illustrated (fishing?) boat is of interest too - dated from 1730s, coinciding with era that William Runciman drowned at Crail. Drawings of boats from that time are virtually non-existent.

Views in Present Day

The following is an extract taken from an email exchange[2] plus the photographs mentioned in them.

'The first one is looking west (approx) - in the bottom right you can see the ruins of Seacliff Mansion House (the one built in the 1840s, on the site of the one built by the Colts) you can see across the actual hamlet of Seacliff, which I imagine is where Whaupknowe was, then over towards the stables - Auldhame Castle is in the woods beyond the stables. At the top left you can see the row of Victorian farm cottages of Auldhame, that is where the Seacliff farm road meets the public road (A198).

The general view including the ruin is a bit hard to follow - the farm roads are curved, which throws everything out. The modern (Victorian?) cottages and big house at Auldhame are top right of centre in the photo - that's on the public road, the A198.

I assume the Tyninghame church that William Runciman was registered at must have been the St Baldred ruin at Tyninghame House, since that was the site of the village then. This is about 5 or 6 miles walk from Whaupknowe, so they must have been fit in those days!'

Aerial view of Whaupknow location (the cluster to left of centre). Seacliff House, bottom half, to right. A ruin since 1907.

The second photo is looking north, over the Seacliff farm hamlet, with the beach in the background and the stables top left. Other than on old maps, Whaupknow's precise location has not been found in written records but it is believed to have been where the present quadrangle of terraced cottages is. The small allocation of their land would be here too, possibly in the 'D' shaped meadow. This plot became the kitchen gardens for Seacliff House. The nurseries were prolific, & later were nurtured with underground steam pipes.[3]

The square of cottages believed to be the Whaupknow location.

Rocks at the shore. Tantallon Castle ruins in background.

Whaupknow lies close to shore at what is now named Seacliff beach from which the ruins of Tantallon Castle can be seen. The view shown on the right would be just as the Runcimans would see it in the 1700s as the castle was already a ruin. This point lies at the mouth of the Firth of Forth where it meets the North Sea, at that time named the German Ocean. Rocky outcrops lie offshore.

Onshore, the rising ground reaches 100 feet above sea level in the space of less than a mile. In English, the Scots words ‘whaup’ means curlew (from the sound it makes) & ‘know, or knowe’ is a small hill, a hillock, so the literal meaning is ‘curlew hill’. Curlews are observed through much of the Scottish Highlands and around the British coastline. By nature curlews immediately take the opportunity to rest after an incoming flight over sea and seek out the nearest high ground.

Richard’s Employment

Richard’s employment is not recorded. His family baptism entries suggest, by what has not been recorded, that Richard was probably a farm labourer. Before the introduction of statutory records in 1855 there were no strict requirements to record-keeping. In church records it was customary to record a person’s occupation if he had ownership or tenancy of land or perhaps if he had a specialised farm skill eg a hind, or if he worked for himself in a trade such as a mason or a baker (scots: baxter). Agricultural labourers generally did not merit such cap-doffing in the records although, since there were no rules, there are exceptions throughout some parishes. It was very much at the whim of the record-keeper, usually the minister or the session clerk. Sadly, no mention of an occupation is made in any of the 9 Runciman baptisms so the possibility that Richard had land rights as an owner or tenant at Whaupknow or that he had a trade is unlikely. But there is a modest possibility that he was more skilled than a labourer, such as a groom. (A groom looked after the horses.)

The evident stability in the couple’s circumstances over a number of years does provide a clue about Richard:

Farms recruited labour at annual or bi-annual hiring fairs. Labourers, hinds, grooms etc were contracted for, usually, 6 months or a year. Farmers tended to know each person’s capabilities & worth either from previous employment or by local reputation. Reliable men were contracted quickly for the upcoming year. Those less favoured picked up work as farm day-labourers at busy periods such as harvest-time or a large planting project etc. A contracted period of employment usually granted a family roof over their head, courtesy of the farm cottages built on the farm land. That Richard’s family can be tracked for at least 17 years of family baptisms at Whaupknow's farm cottages suggests he was a reliable employee recruited by the same Auldhame farmer every year.

Did previous Runciman generations live at or near Whaupknow?

This is difficult to determine as the family events of preceding generations were contained in records affected by a turbulent period in Scottish history. Records were intentionally damaged or destroyed and others hidden away for safety from possible damage or destruction, never to see the light of day again. For a period of 50 years from mid-1600s many baptisms and marriages took place unrecorded at Covenanter conventicles (field meetings/sermons) and in dissenting Presbyterian churches away from the Authorised Church (The Church of Scotland) and were recorded in discreet, closely guarded records - or even not at all - for fear of recrimination. Also of course, some authorised records were lost by natural deterioration and damage due to ageing.

Tyninghame Church's Register of Baptisms only survive from 1695, a date which provides little value in answering the 'previous generations?' question. Fortunately between 1615 to 1650 their enterprising minister, John Lauder, maintained detailed Kirk Session records[4] including BMDs. Thereafter the Session Clerk took responsibility. But an examination of the scant 1600 session records reveals no Runcimans were recorded either as baptised infants, parents or witnesses in the Tynninghme parish. In addition to the absence of earlier recordings, the only Runciman baptisms after 1700 until the church closure in 1761 were Richard & Jennet's own children, suggesting no other branches from earlier generations were around the parish. (There are many examples of 1600s Runciman baptisms in surrounding parishes such as North Berwick.)

If not from local knowledge, Whaupknow was almost certainly known to Richard & Jennet through its proximity to Muttonhole where James Dicksone & his wife Margaret Runciman had lived since at least 1719. They were recorded there in that year for the first of two baptisms of their children. James was later a witness at two of the Runciman children’s baptisms at Whaupknow – Jennet in 1732 and Jean in 1736 so it is a reasonable conclusion that there is a family connection between James’ wife Margaret at Muttonhole & Richard, less than a mile away at Whaupknow. Presently this is an undiscovered connection deserving further research. The lack of any other Runciman connections as baptism witnesses is another pointer to the possibility of a family with no/few wider relations.

Whaupknow & Tynninghame Church

That the family worshipped at Tynninghame Church rather than at Whitekirk is initially surprising. Whaupknow to Tynninghame Church is a walk of between 5-6 miles in each direction whereas Whitekirk is much nearer, at about 3 miles each way. Why would a family with young children make such a decision? How much of the day would be taken up just getting there and back! It’s not credible Richard could afford a horse & cart. Or perhaps every family in Whaupknow squeezed into a farm horse & cart? That too is barely credible. The Horse Tax records of the 1790s – a generation or two later – show that even at Aldhame, the sitting tenant farmer John Rennie had only 1 horse. Likewise Robert Colt at Seacliff. However they got to church, there would be many a winter Sunday when the journey would feel considerably longer than its actual distance!

The reason for this apparent Tynninghame / Whitekirk anomaly lies in local religious history. Whitekirk was part of the old Holyrood diocese. On the other hand the villages of Tynninghame & Aldhame, which included the cottages at Whaupknow, belonged in the diocese of St Andrews. The Aldhame village church was destroyed in 1562 and eventually the parish of Aldhame joined with Tynninghame in 1618[5], observing the historical diocese link. Only when Tynninghame Church itself was demolished would the farming community around Seacliff, Aldhame, Scoughall etc worship at the much closer Whitekirk.

There is no confirmatory evidence of where Richard & Jennet worshipped immediately after they left Whaupknow – or indeed, where they then lived & worked. Or even if Jennet was living.

Schooling for Whaupknow children

A by-product of strict Scottish Presbyterianism is that in the 1700s Scotland was better developed in the provision of education for its children than any country in Europe and its population was by then the most literate on the continent[6]. This provision was initially driven by a desire by ministers and parents to ensure children could read their bible. Schooling was usually provided by local churches & often funded by local landowners. Each had their schoolmaster. The children in the Tynninghame area received a formal school education, evidenced by William Runciman, of school age between the mid-1730s to the early 1740s, who could read, write & had at least a basic grasp of arithmetic as, when a fisherman in Crail, he signed off the Box-Master’s (Treasurer) accounts as being true.

At some point it’s understood North Berwick & Tynninghame churches combined resources to provide a school at the small community of Halflin(g)barns[1] (now Halflandbarns). This location was a much more convenient midway point for the children in the outlying areas of the North Berwick & Tynninghame parishes than the existing locations of their church schools. In Tyninghame parish for instance, the local Pilmuir & Peffer burns were prone to flood in winter preventing a crossing from Aldhame, Whaupknow, Muttonhole etc to the parish school at Tynninghame. As well as being more accessible, Halflinbarns was much closer, being only about a mile from Whaupknow whereas Tynninghame required a good 5-mile walk (each way).

Halflinbarns School[7] has existed since at least the late 1600s. Entries from around that period appear in the records of the Factor to Sir Hew Dalrymple so, at that time, Sir Hew was involved in its provision:

  • In 1696 Margaret Watt received 10 shillings ‘for a poor scholar at Castleton’ [8]. (The reference to Castleton is assumed to be the location of the poor scholar, rather than the location of another school.)
  • Feby 1696 the factor records a payment £6:13:4d salary to ‘Mgt Watt for teaching of female school’[9].
  • Aprile 1697 The factor records ‘To the School Master for his salary £13:6:08d’ plus an additional £4 ‘for his school mail’[10]. This is probably his annual salary paid retrospectively. It is exactly double the amount paid to Margaret Watt in the February of the previous year so the likelihood is she left the school then and the School Master was recruited almost immediately, resulting in the retrospective payment a year later[B].
  • 1704 Discharge to the School master at Halflinbarns £6:13:4d.

The Old Schoolhouse

It’s understood[11] the old school consisted of a single room, a schoolmaster’s house and space for a playground. This layout was continued in the new school rebuilt in 1860, shown above, now converted to a private home. The dormer extensions in the loft area and the porch extension were later additions under private occupancy. Otherwise externally the building is the original 1860 replacement school but with internal conversion to several rooms. The small window on the upper floor was the space which housed the school bell. In winter each child had to bring a lump of coal to keep the schoolroom heated throughout the day[12]

The school eventually closed in 1929. For a period of time thereafter it was used as a library and Sunday School and for Saturday dances with the local blacksmith Mr Mason playing the fiddle. Mr Ian Ferguson of Woodlea Byre, ?xxxx and the late Mrs Mary Dale taught the Sunday School.[13]. 'The Smiddy' (the blacksmith's workshop) and house still stand in front of the Old School building, and are occupied semi-detached houses.

William & Fishing

Before Whaupknow was recognised, far less understood, by Runciman family researchers Richard's son William’s choice to make his living as a fisherman was a puzzle. Not so now the location & lifestyle is known. With the force of necessity driven by a hand-to-mouth subsistence of an agricultural labourer’s family, it’s clear how a young lad could be drawn into fishing as part of the family necessity to put food on the table. Perhaps his father Richard took him on his early fishing experiences or possibly an older friend or a Whaupknow neighbour? Though one has to bear in mind there was very little leisure time and this was a pursuit driven by necessity.

An aerial photograph above illustrates how close to the sea William was brought up. Fishing had been employed off his local beach for generations before him, the favoured catch being crab & lobster[14] and herring. Historically, for centuries, the beach had been much used as a landing place for friend & foe[15]. Small fishing settlements were dotted all along the coastline.

Beach close to the Whaupknow cottages where William possibly dragged his first boat to & from the high water mark. The cliffs on the right rise to 100 ft providing the local name Whaupknow.

Many a young boy had his early introduction to a lifetime of fishing from that very beach a half-mile from his home. From a young age still at school William would be learning skills he would carry with him into adulthood. As a young school-leaver he was possibly proficient enough to earn a living alongside the men. In any event it was a lifetime of fishing he chose and we can see how the opportunities would have been available on his doorstep. By the age of 19 he was sufficiently immersed in the fishing fraternity to have met & married a lass from the fishing community on the Isle of May lying opposite Crail.

Demise of Whapknow

In 1750[C] Robert Colt, who by this time owned the Aldhame estate which included Whaupknow, set about building an imposing country house in preference to maintaining the rather expensive run down property[1] which was by then subject to subsidence & erosion[15]. He named the new house Seacliff and in due course Seacliff’s landscaping & building works encroached onto the land where the Whaupknow cottages stood. The project took some years; there is evidence in the Tyninghame church records the cottages were inhabited until at least 1759. On 10 September 1758 John Cowie 'fisher in Whaupknowe' & Marjory Reid had their son John baptised at St Baldred’s Kirk[16] followed by James Thane & Janet Sutherland 'in Whaupknowe' baptising their son in May,1759[17]. With no occupation stated, could James Thane still be labouring for Aldhame farm?

The burial records[18] of the new combined parish of Whitekirk & Tyningham reveal that there were 3 later burials in that churchyard, in 1765, 1773 & 1774 which record Whaupknow as the location of the deceased. Conversely no entries appear showing Seacliff as a location for a person buried at Whitekirk until much later, when George Sligo died in 1846. This is possibly accounted for by gaps in the records; certainly there are too many references to Seacliff existing much earlier than this latter date to attach any relevance to it.

After Whaupknow

It is not yet known what course Richard & Jannet’s family life took immediately after Whaupknow. The first re-appearance is in 1765, the year son William drowned, when Richard is recorded living at Castleton – presumably employed as an agricultural labourer for him to be provided with one of the farm cottages there.

Given his steady employment & reliability record at Aldhame it’s possible he was hired at Castleton immediately on the demise of Whaupknow. The baptism of a Whaupknow resident indicates the cottages were still in use in 1759 and if Richard had not arrived at Castleton just before the drownings in January 1765, the intervening period is fairly short but equally there is no definitive evidence he moved on immediately to Castleton.

Family baptism records make no mention of witnesses with Castleton links in their early married years. Although Richard himself was baptised in North Berwick parish church (in which parish Castleton lies) and, on joining the 3rd Regiment of Foot Guards, his brother William b1712 declared himself to be born 'near North Berwick' which defines Castleton (as it does all the neighbourhood).

As Castleton lay in North Berwick parish no doubt he/they worshipped at North Berwick church. Certainly there’s ample evidence of the grandchildren, ie the orphans, having their marriages recorded by North Berwick parish church.

Aldhame & Scoughall

The local farms of | Aldhame & Scoughall played a large part in the couple’s life. Not only did Aldhame provide steady employment to the family from their early married days into middle age but the kirk records reveal that in addition to their employer, Richard & Jennet’s circle of friends lived around these farms. Fortunately the history of the farms and the local area is well preserved (refer to section 'Local Area & History').

Farm/Estate Ownership

At Aldhame, before Richard & Jennet’s time:

  • Aldhame existed for centuries during which little written evidence of ownership survived. In AD 854 Aldhame (and Tyninghame) appears in the list of manors belonging to the Bishopric of Lindisfarne. Later, the land may have been ‘unofficial’ mensal land owned by the Bishop of St Andrews, used to sustain the clergy’s family & followers, as two of the first documented owners were closely associated with the archdiocese of St Andrews[15].
  • Sir Adam Otterburn & descendants from late 16th century (built Aldhame Castle)
  • John Auchmuthie family (1599, also bought Scoughall, uniting the parish under single ownership by 1615[15].

When Richard & Jennet lived & worked there:

  • George Suttie (tenanted the farm to Hugh Brounfield. On Hugh's death tenancy transferred to George Rennie, husband of Hugh's sister as he had no male heirs. These two farmers were witnesses at various Runciman baptisms. )
  • Robert Colt of Gartsherrie (left subsiding Aldhame House to ruin, built Seacliff House)

After demise of cottages at Whaupknow:

  • Robert Colt, continuing ownership
  • John Brodie, then George Weir (both short-term)
  • George Sligo (from 1816, extensive works to Seacliff House c 1841)
  • John Watson Laidlay
  • Andrew Laidlay (inherited, built Seacliff Harbour, lost in 1907 fire)

After loss of Seacliff House:

  • John R Dale (bought 1919 - tenants at Auldhame since 1834 & Scoughall since 1848)

The 3 estates continue in Dale family ownership.

Present Day

Sadly no evidence remains of the original cottages at Whaupknow although the location has seen much activity since their demise. The following observations, substantially as told in the first person by TH[19], describe the site & its modern history.

'The present cottages in the hamlet at Seacliff probably started out as Victorian too, though there would be earlier buildings there before that. The square of cottages used to partly be used as farm offices, and a granary. My own house was built in 1960 as dairymen's cottages to go with the new dairy building (which is at Auldhame) - we extended the house in 2005 - at some time before that (1980 or so?) it was owned by the parents of the wife of the then farm manager, Neil Knox, and it had already been modified then, and a big garden laid out on what was previously the common drying green for the hamlet. The cottages are mostly privately owned now, a few remain farm property. I've been here since 2000.

Latterly Seacliff farm was mostly a sporting estate for a while during the ownership of the Laidlay family who imported dyestuffs from India. Andrew was an eldest son, an advocate, who inherited the House and used to entertain his business associates to shooting weekends. He died in the 1907 fire which has left the mansion house in ruins. Mr Laidlay is buried in Whitekirk churchyard.

The D-shaped walled garden opposite my house is now just a pasture. It was at one time a garden to grow vegetables and exotic fruit for house guests, with heating underground by steam pipes. There are the remains of a boiler house for the steam pipes just across from my house - bizarrely, it seems it was destroyed by a stray jettisoned Luftwaffe bomb in WW2! The walled garden was ploughed up and converted to pasture long before my time. The Walled Garden pasture is thought to be the most likely location of the plots of land allocated to the Whaupknow farm labourers.

There has always been an important stables business at Seacliff - they used to breed Welsh Cobs (maybe they still do), and there's an ambitious riding school and livery business - horses everywhere.

The main crop-growing areas are at Scoughall and Auldhame farms, which are much bigger than Seacliff. One feature here is that the gable wall of cottage #2 in the Square has been engraved with the initials AL and the date 1900. One oddity is the cottages are numbered in apparent random fashion as numbers were allocated over a number of years in the order that each farm outbuilding was converted to a house & occupied. Cottage #10 has a couple of the windows from the original Seacliff House.

At risk of digressing wildly, a quick word about Tyninghame. The original village, complete with church, was where Tyninghame House now stands, near the mouth of the Tyne. Sometime in early 18th Century the Earl of Haddington extended the House and its gardens, and a new village was built on the other side of the main road - this village is still going strong today, but there was never a new church - there was a school in new Tyninghame, but after 1761 when the old church was removed the parishioners were then expected to trek up to Whitekirk church (formerly Hamer, or Great-Ham to distinguish it from Auld-Ham). The original Tyninghame church still stands as a ruin in the gardens at Tyninghame House. It is a very important Christian site, since it was founded by St Baldred in the 8th Century - I believe the present ruined kirk dates from 12th Century. Baldred also built a timber church at Auldhame - it is under the farm fields now, but it was excavated by Edinburgh University around 2002 or so.'

Associated Profiles

There are WikiTree profiles covering other aspects of the Runciman line whose ancestors lived at Whaupknow:

  • The Early Generations. contains known facts and comments about the early Runciman ancestors of the Crail line.
  • Crail Fishing Disaster. Richard's son William drowned with 7 others in the 1765 Crail Fishing Disaster. This profile details the historical research & the 250th anniversary commemoration in 2015.
  • Scotland and Beyond. In 2004 a family history of the William Runciman of Crail line was published. The latest research & continuing updates are now published on WikiTree & several other online genealogy sites rather than in print. As Scotland and Beyond has been out of print for some time Jen Jelley & Diane Middleton, compilers & publishers of the 2004 book, originally had kindly agreed to make their publication available in PDF format. But increasing sensitivity over the security of personal information for living relatives halted that intention. This link provides further information from which it's possible to email a specific query about an ancestor.
  • The Runciman Cradle Tour provides the reader interested in seeing some of our ancestral locations around East Lothian with a suggested itinerary and their association to the family.
  • The Crail Trail for those who wish to visit where William of Crail spent his married/working life and eventually to meet his early death from drowning.

Unanswered Question(s)/Further Research

Some facts learned generate more questions.

  • Was Whaupknow the name of the locale (as opposed to the name of the cottages)? It's strange the Whaupknow name disappeared, apparently at or around the same time as the cottages.
  • When was Seacliff Beach so named? Was the beach named after the house or vice-versa? It seems the beach was used by landing parties (pilgrims, Vikings, English, traders for centuries.)
  • What drove the removal of the cottages - a loss of farm jobs at Aldhame or the encroaching development of Seacliff House - or were the two events intertwined?
  • Who was the Margaret Runciman, wife of James Dickson(e) who was witness to the baptisms of 2 of Richard & Jennet's children? The answer to this may bring us closer to a shared DNA lineage.

Local Area & History

Whaupknow is surrounded by beautiful countryside and evidence of dramatic Scottish history laced with remarkable fiction & legends. Suggested locations & subjects to explore in person or online include:


[A] In September 2020 one notable exception to family folklore failing to carry down the generations was introduced into our Runciman research by Steven Wilson of Kansas, USA. Steve descends from Peter Whitecross & Margaret Runciman (ie not through OJ). Researchers have questioned & debated who Margaret's parents were & never found validation between two possible candidates. However Steve advises there's been a story handed down in his family line by his father's grandmother that as a young girl standing on shore she waited for her father's safe return in a storm, which he never did. Despite some inconsistencies through the telling over the generations - this starts further back than his father's grandmother - this is very possibly the tale of Orphan Margaret, who was then aged 9, waiting for her father William of Crail. (No-one else on his line lost their father to drowning). In due course more complete detail will be included in Margaret's Wiki profile of & on the profile of the Crail Fishing Disaster.

[B] British currency pre-decimalisation:

  • Guinea (Gn)= 21 shillings (written 21/- or £1:1:-)
  • Pound (£) = 20 shillings (written £1)
  • Crown = 5 shillings (written 5/-)
  • Half-Crown = Two shillings and sixpence (written 2/6d)
  • Florin = Two shillings (written 2/-)
  • Shilling = 12 pennies, or pence (written (1/-)
  • Penny (often pence in plural) = 2 halfpennies or 4 farthings (written 1d)

£13:6:8d, as in the schoolmaster’s salary, is spoken as 13 pounds, 6 shillings and 8 pence (colloquially 13 pounds, 6 and 8). 6/8d is exactly 1/3 of £1. If the school year was split into 3 terms, which is common practice now, this may suggest that the schoolmaster’s salary was £40pa, receivable in 3 equal amounts at the end of each term. But this seems a high salary for the time (not researched). Further examination of the Factor's original record may provide the answer.

[C] According to another source[15]it may have been as late as 1770-1780 as it was then the ruins of the Aldhame church were removed 'for some domestic purpose'....'at the same time as the abandonment of Auldhame Castle and the erection of Seacliff House.'


Researching this particular aspect of Runciman family history Alan Runciman Jr received invaluable help from the undernoted people :

Rosy Runciman (RR), a 4th cousin, who joined me in the initial paper & physical hunt for William of Crail’s birthplace and at the SGS discussion (see Joy Dodd).

Joy Dodd, (JD) a Hon Vice-President, Scottish Genealogy Society, Edinburgh with whom RR & I had an enlightening discussion at SGS premises on 6 February 2020.

Tony Howard (TH), a keen historian who lives in a cottage built on the former site of Whaupknow.

Tommy Dale (TD) Seacliffe farmer, business man & family/local historian whose family tenanted & later owned the farmlands of Auldhame, Scoughall & Seacliffe since the early 1800s. Lives in a cottage built on the former site of Whaupknow.

Frances Cohen (FC) who lives at the converted Halflingbarns School House, part of the Art & Pottery studio there.

Also thanks to the innumerable Runciman family researchers past & present who contributed painstakingly to the early research framework & results, providing the spark for all that has followed on.

Finally if you descend from any of Richard’s children (or think you may) please participate in the Runciman DNA project at FTDNA by testing or contributing financially.

Alan Runciman Jr,

7th generation son of Richard & Jennet


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Discussion Notes 6Feb2020 AR/RR/JD
  2. email exchanges TH/AR 2020
  3. TD/TH/AR conversation 2020
  4. NRS Filing Ref CH2/359/1
  5. An Old Kirk Chronicle:Being a History of Auldhame, Tyninghame, and Whitekirk in East Lothian. From Session Records, 1615-1850 by P Hately Waddell
  6. Source to be re-established, awaits confirmation
  7. All info on Halflinbarns is from discussion with Alan R/FC on 13 Aug 2020.
  8. noted from factor’s records of Sir Hew Dalrymple by relative of FC, currently residing at The Schoolhouse
  9. noted from factor’s records of Sir Hew Dalrymple by relative of FC, currently residing at The Schoolhouse
  10. noted from factor’s records of Sir Hew Dalrymple by relative of FC, currently residing at The Schoolhouse
  11. Discussion, Aug 2020 AR/FC, currently residing at The Schoolhouse
  12. As recounted to FC by her mother/grandmother(?) who had met a former pupil who reminisced with her
  13. Discussion, Aug 2020 AR/FC currently residing at The Schoolhouse
  14. TD/TH/AR conversation 13Aug2020
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 15.4 Living & Dying in Auldhame. The Excavation of an Anglian Monastic Settlement and Medieval Parish Church (Page 149) ISBN 978-1-908332-01-1
  16. https://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk Filing Ref Whitekirk & Tynninghame 723/10/136
  17. https://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk Filing Ref Whitekirk & Tynninghame 723/10/137
  18. Whitekirk St Mary's Church Mortcloth & Burial records, published by Scottish Genealogy Society
  19. email & conversations between TH/AR Aug2020


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