View of St. Germains House from Adair's Map, 1660.
View of St. Germains House from the Adairs Map, 1660.
© National Library of Scotland



Pinkie House, early 1900's.
Pinkie House, early 1900's.



Ariel view of St. Germains House.
Ariel view of the Estate of St. Germains House, 2004.
© Peter Duncan 2005



Winter view of St. Germains House.
Winter view of St. Germains.
© Peter Duncan 2005

Traditionally the lands of St. Germains (or St. Germans) in Tranent were a possession of the head of the Seton Family, being a Templar-connected property for which the Seton's administered to.  The lands were named for the those in France, the famed St. Germains which later served the Scottish Monarchs while in exile and which were graciously awarded them for use, by the King's of France.  The estate was used originally as a hospital, which was founded by the de Quincy's for the Knights Hospitallers of the Order of the Star of Bethlehem, and it's foundation can confidently be assigned to the period 1170-1180 by Robert de Quincy.  It remained as a property for the Knights Hospitallers for another two centuries; not surprisingly so since the head of the Seton family was also part of the senior Templar organization in Scotland, and who had acquired the lands via marriage with the de Quincy heiress. 

In Scotland, the organization of the Templars was brought by those Knight-families who had been active in Rome and the Middle East-Jerusalem.  The Templars overall had been instituted by the Charlemagnic families, and more specifically by the flemish Boulognnaise - hence since the majority of the principle families of Scotland had been originally flemish-Boulognnaise, then it is only logical that they would have brought those activities and interests along with them.  The crusades of course only strengthened to maintain connections "back-home" in Flanders, and the ties into the Templarist organization.  The Seton's then, being senior bloodline of the Charlemagnic line were part of the trinity of the Templars in Scotland - the Seton, Sinclairs and Stewarts.
Therefore, as part of the organization there... they upheld the tradition of caring of the poor, the sick and the elderly, in a Knightly-sense.  Chivalry, the word, originates from the French-word, Chevalier, meaning literally, Knight.  It originally referred to the practice of these "knights" caring for the injured, the sick and the poor; or more specifically, those who were fortunate enough to be under the service and protection of the Templars and their hospitals, which incidentally you can still see the remains of this principle continuing in the Masonic-Templar Shiners Hospitals for Children.  Of course during the founding of the St. Germains hospital, the de Quincy family (who had founded it along with the Seton's) had implemented what was then called a "hospital" to care for the nobly-insane/injured knights serving in the organization.
To get a better picture in your mind, invision the movie Braveheart, and the battle scene's thereof.  Imagine the victims remaining after those battles, and more specifically the "ennobled" knights of prominent families who were severely injured, or who had become "unbalanced in mind"as a result.  This is what St. Germains served, and given that the main road into Scotland passed here, and still remains in the A198, this location was the scene of endless conflicts, where the Battles of Pinkie and Prestonpans come to mind.  The Seton "House" or Castle, was the main "guardhouse" into Scotland along this route, and of the Scottish monarch's.  Those castles and families before that point being look-outs, or advance-defense, with the Seton's being one of the "big guns" behind those positions protecting the capitol and seat of the King.  It only makes sense that the "hospital" be located there - hence, St. Germains.

However, important connection to note was that the Seton's had come to Scotland having originally settled in England and in the Whitby area in North Yorkshire, near to Staithes, where 'Seaton Hall' is. Sir Miles Cornet (Milone Corneth) was Prior of St. Germain's, Tranent, and who witnessed charters there between the years 1180-1220s.  He was a tenant of the de Quincys and witnessed Charters for them. Lands in Tranent, named Myles, (part of the gift given to Sir Alexander Seton after Bannockburn), was originally possessed by Sir Miles Cornet, and where 'Myles Farm' still exists today.

Milo Corneth was still prior of St. Germain's in 1222, and he had a son John Cornet, mentioned in a quit-claim, dated 1285. Although John had died, his son, Simon Cornet, resigned the lands of St. Germains ('resigned by rod and staff') to Sir Alexander Comyn, Earl of Buchan, as the heir to land named 'Mylis', after his grandfather. The land was then possessed by the Preston family (William, or John de Preston), and where the Prestons, were blood-relatives through Simon Cornet's paternal aunt, who married John de Preston. The Cornet family then seem to vanish from records.

St. Germains initially passed to the Seton's upon marriage with the de Quincy heiress, and sealed into Seton hands by the later de Quincy forfeitures.  The house-hospital was maintained and rebuilt by the Seton family, successively, in the manner of "knightly service", an honour, or responsibility and noble tradition.  Of course it was "leased" out in subsequent years following the reign of King James IV, used occasionally as a hospital much in the very same way that Pinkie House was used.  There were various disputes over usage of the property between descendants of the various Lords Seton of previous generations, and the later-tenants who leased the property from the then-present Lord Seton.

Although principally a Seton owned and managed-property, and part of the Barony, it's lease was passed by marriage out of the junior-Seton family lines to the Stewart and Lauder families, and was then re-acquired by the Lords Seton and bestowed upon a younger son who founded the original first branch of the Seton's called: "of St. Germains".  The older branches of the Seton family, descended from the 2nd and 3rd Lords Seton who were Baillie's of Tranent, descended from John Seton, Master of Seton and eldest son of George, 3rd Lord Seton, and who's descent made repeated claims to retain the lands and the house-castle.  One such famous occurrence is noted in the records of the National Archives of Scotland, where there is a transcript from the reign of King James V, of an Instrument of Renunciation by George Seton.

Archibald Seton of St. Germains (called also Alexander).  He was the first 'Seton of St. Germains', and was circa 1501, killed by robbers in Annandale at the Raid of Solway, with the Duke of Albany.  His son and heir, George Seton of St. Germains, and later of Lasswade and 'of Longniddry', was the noted Seton of St. Germains noted in a Transcript of an Instrument of Renunciation, "by George Seton, baker and burgess of Edinburgh, in presence of Lord Seton, of lands of St Germains lying beside the lands of Seton within the constabulary of Haddington, to Mr Henry Lauder king's advocate, and Agnes Stewart (of the Rosyth family) his spouse, because of great injury and wrong done to them in hurting of her at her own place of St Germains, dated 1 April 1544." On the 28th May 1546, he was noted in an Instrument of Sasine, in terms of a charter of feu-farm, and precept directed to Alexander Auldinstoun of that Ilk, and Mr. David Hamyltoun in  Prestoun, dated Edinburgh, 27th May 1546, by George, Lord Seton, in favour of his cousin or kinsman, George Seton, son of the late Archibald Seton in St. Germains, of the kirklands of Lasswade (which the late Thomas Giffert occupied), lying at the west end of the town of Dalkeith, in the regality of St. Andrews, barony of Kirkliston, and shire of Edinburgh.

The lands were returned to the useage Seton family by George, 7th Lord Seton, and were bestowed by his son and heir Robert Seton, 8th Lord Seton and later 1st Earl of Winton upon his own second son George Seton (later 3rd Earl of Winton) in a Charter dated 20th June 1602 (In this charter George Seaton is designed nostro filio secundo genito, and Sir Alexander Seaton, who has been referred to, as fratri germano juniori of George); to his third son Alexander Seton of Foulstruther (later 6th Earl of Eglinton); and finally upon his fifth son, The Hon. Sir John Seton, Knight, after his brother Alexander obtained the Earldom of Eglinton.  They remained with Sir John Seton's descendants for three generations, and for whom are named the branch of the family, "the Seton's of St. Germains".  The last Seton of St. Germains was George Seton, forfeit in 1715 and who died in 1718, and who never married having been too poor to support a family and his fortune sufficient only to stave-on as a gentleman; the descendants of this family branch continuing in his uncles' line.

The second family of Seton at St. Germains then, (the first being of younger descent of George, 4th Lord Seton), was the Hon. Sir John Seton, who rose to become a Captain in the Royal Regiment for King James VI, and fought against the Parliamentary forces, whereupon he was Knighted.  He was provided with the estate of St. Germains after his two older brother's who each had held it obtained the earldom's of Winton and Eglinton and inherited those estates: "fifth, and youngest, son of Robert, first Earl of Winton, ' gott the lands of St. Germains after his brother, Sir Alexander, obtained the Earledome of Eglingtone." On the 14th of January 1617 a charter of Aldingstone and Greendykes was granted to Sir John Seton and his mother ; and three and a half years later (3rd July 1620) he and his 'affidate spouse,' Margaret Kellie, had another charter of the lands of St. Germains from his brother George, third Earl of Winton.

Again, on the 15th of February 1621, there is a charter by the King to ' John Seytoun of Sanct Germains ' of the lands and barony of Foulden, in the shire of Berwick, apprised from William Arnote of Cokburnespeth, and sold to the said John Seytoun for 2500 merks, due to Mr. William Kellie, W.S.. Some nine years afterwards (31st December 1629) we find a registered discharge by Alexander, Earl of Eglinton, George, Earl of Winton, and Sir William Seton of Kylesmure, in favour of their 'beloved brother,' John Seton of St. Germains, from the obligation which he had granted to them and the late Margaret, Countess of Winton, in June 1620, not to sell his lands, in consideration that he was now of age to manage his own affairs. Sir John Seton 'dyed in good age [July 1638], and was buried in the buriall place of Seton.' * This appears from the record of his ' Testament Testamentar' in the Edinburgh Register dated the 4th of July, 1638 written partly by himself and partly by Margaret Kellie, his relict spouse, wherein he constitutes Dame Margaret Kellie, his spouse, his only executrix and tutrix to his children. The free gear amounted to v°xxxiij lib , and Robert Seton of Monkmylne is a witness. He was buried at Seton Collegiate Church.

A ' Testament dative and inventory of the goods, etc., pertaining to the deceased Francis Seton, brother to the Laird of St. Germaines, who died in the month of June 1666, given up by Helen Inglis, his relict, only executrix-dative decerned to the deceased, on 3rd November 1666. Free gear . £3.965. 4S- ' The Earl of Winton was owing to the said Francis, by bond, for the sum of 4000 merks ; and the said Francis was due to George, Earl of Winton, for the crop 1666, the sum of ,£686, 2s. 2d.' Confirmed 7th December 1666, David Halyday, Chamberlain to the Lady St. Germains, elder, being cautioner.

George Seton, heir at law of his cousin, also George Seton, was apprenticed to Robert Blackwood mt, 14, Apr. 1675, in Edinburgh.  He succeeded to the Estate of St. Germains following the death of his cousin George Seton of St. Germains.  There is noted an entry for his succession to St. Germains, in the Calendar of the Laing Charters as entry number 3126, dated the 26th July 1732: Charter by King George the Second, in favour of James Campbell, merchant, clothier in London, granting to him, whom failing, to his eldest son, George William Campbell, the lands of Tofts, as in No. 2594 supra, in the parish of Eccles and shire of Berwick, erected into a barony in favour of the late John Belsches of Tofts on 25th May 1625 ; also the lands of Aldingstoun or Greendykes, Chesterhall and St. Germains in the parish of Tranent, constabulary of Haddington, and shire of Edinburgh, the lands of Tofts having been adjudged from the late Mr. John Belsches of Tofts, and Mr. John Belsches, advocate, his son, while the lands of St. Germains, etc., Avere adjudged from George Seton of St. Germains, son of the late Francis Seton, who was brother-german of the also deceased George Seton of St. Germains: To be held blench. Edinburgh, 26th July 1732. Cf. also No. 1833 supri. [1891, Box 48.

The Estate passed out of the Seton family's hands following the forfeiture's of the tumultuous rebellion-event's of 1715, sometime after 1732, and was then and for a time the residence of the Menzies family of the Coulterallers line, who had a lease of St. Germains, before it was acquired by the Earl of Wemyss during the sale of Winton Estate which was broken into lots; the Wemyss' being a female-line cadet of the Seton family.  It was later acquired for use from the Earl's of Wemyss by Warren Hastings via David Anderson senior (lawyer and factor to the Earl of Wemyss) and his wife Mary Mitchelson; David Anderson senior eventually retired to a house on the Wemyss estate at Inveresk as David Anderson of Stoneyhill and the St. Germains property was later purchased by his son, David Anderson junior from his now-friend whom he served in India, the Governor General Warren Hastings.  David junior and his brother James had studied at the University of Edinburgh like their elder brother Francis, and later entered the service of the East India Company, David as a writer or clerk, and James as a cadet in the HEIC army.

They became assistants to and close friends of Warren Hastings, Governor-General of Bengal (India), for whom David was a major political diplomat, and James a Persian interpreter.  David returned to England with Hastings in 1785, and gave evidence for the defense at Hastings’ impeachment; James returned to England the following year.  David helped Hastings prepare his defense for his impeachment, and was one of the few witnesses who refused to be browbeaten by the managers of the prosecution, Edmund Burke, Charles James Fox and Richard Brinsley Sheridan.

Anderson bought St. Germains from Hastings in 1782, and after extensive renovations to the ageing property, finally moved there in 1804. The house was visited frequently by Hastings and also by another friend of his from Edinburgh, the novelist Sir Walter Scott, and the estate remained in the Anderson Family until about the turn of the 20th Century when it was bought by the Tennent Family, famous in Scotland for its lagers and beers.  Last used as a complete house by the RAF as a convalescent home for injured airmen during WW2, and afterward was converted into apartments in 1947 rather than face demolition.

Gone are the tall chimney's of the Seton's work (similar to that at Seton Palace and Winton House), and of the Seton-armorial adornments and out-buildings and garden walls, some noted in Hailes' Historical Account, where Nisbet mentions "that the arms of Seton and Kellie were yet to be seen on a stone above the gate of St. Germains".  The seven-bay N front of St Germains was refurbished in the late 18th century using the older foundations, from an addition to the earlier 17th and 18th century house which can still be seen behind it, and a further addition was made about 1820.  The house was subdivided internally about 1950 and converted into more modern flats in recent times.

The Coachman's House, Stables and Granary (The Cottage), West Lodge (now demolished) and East Lodge were also later converted to residential use in the 20th century.  The Dovecot at St Germain's which still remains is a cylindrical dovecot, 50ft 10 ins in external diameter; the rubble walls are 3ft thick and have a single wide string course about 9ft 8 ins from the ground.  The entrance is on the W. and there is a circular battlemented parapet round the top. The roof is of stone and internally, there are 501 nests.  This dovecot is mentioned in 1780 (Edinburgh Advertiser, 11 April 1780), when St Germains (NT47SW 1) was sold (A N Robertson 1952; D C Bailey and M C Tindall 1963).

There has also been a discovery of an Iron Age ring-fort at St. Germains.  The site noted as a cropmark on aerial photographs (flown 1976 and 1978), and excavations were carried out throughout 1978-80, and are continued in 1981, in advance of opencast coal mining.  The aerial photographs show a subcircular penannular ring with probable antenna ditch, and an external system of linear earthworks to the S, situated in a flat area which has long been used for arable farming.   The excavations to date would indicate that, discounting a possible Beaker settlement or encampment in the same area, evidenced by finds of sherds of AOC Beaker, a barbed and tanged arrowhead, and small waste flint chips, there were three main periods of Iron Age occupation.

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