The History of Leith

May 30, 2012

The Somerville family

Gilmerton was long characterised simply as a
village of colliers of a peculiarly degraded and brutal
nature, as ferocious and unprincipled as a gang
of desperadoes, who rendered all the adjacent roads
unsafe after nightfall, and whose long career of
atrocities culminated in the execution of two of
them for a singularly brutal murder in 1831. Its
coal—which is of prime quality—was vigorously
worked in 1627, and is supposed to have been
famous a century earlier ; but its mines have been
abandoned, and the adjacent lime-works—the
oldest in Scotland—were worked from time immemorial.
Half a mile to the eastward lies the ancient
estate and manor-house of Drum, the residence of
old of the Somerville family, secluded from the
highway and hidden by venerable trees—a Scoto-
Norman race, whose progenitor, William de Somerville,
came into Scotland during the reign of David
I., who made him Lord of Carnwath, and whose
descendants figured in high places for several
generations. His son obtained from William the
Lion a grant of Linton in 1174, for slaying—according
to tradition—a monstrous serpent, which
was devastating the country. William, fourth of that
name, was a commander at the battle of Largs;
Thomas, his son, served under Wallace; and his
son Sir Walter, the comrade of Bruce, married Giles,
the daughter and heiress of Sir John Herring, with
whom he obtained the lands of Drum, Gilmerton,
and Goodtrees, in the parish of Liberton.

source-Old and New Edinburgh

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