People in the History of Ormiston
In 1127, Robert; Bishop of St. Andrews, claimed that “all the churches of the whole of Lothian in common owe obedience to the Bishop of St. Andrews,” and among those present on the occasion of this declaration was Orm, Priest of Houm (Hume). Orme was a well known name in Scotland being borne by people of some importance.
From the Orm family the lands of Orm passed into the possession of the Lindsays until 1368, the only daughter of Sir Alexander Lindsay (Laird of Ormiston), Joan (Jonata or Janet), married John, the second son of Sir Alexander Cockburn of Cockburn (Langton) and this historical family was then vested in the lands and barony of Ormiston by King David Bruce in 1368. The father of ‘Jonata’ in his youth was a friend and companion of Wallace and in 1311 lost his Estate of Byres (within the Parish of Ormiston) for supporting Bruce in the fight for Scotland’s Freedom.
The Cockburns held power as landowners of Ormiston well into the 18th Century. The then John Cockburn, a celebrated agriculturalist born in 1685 and sat as a member of the Scottish Parliament and took an active part in the proceedings connected with the Union of Scotland and England.
In 1726 he erected a brewery and distillery in Ormiston with the works continued by a tenant, Mr Wright.
They promoted the growth of flax and at the same time established a school for teaching young girls to spin linen yarn. To complete the process a bleachfield was established with the help of an Irishman and made the bleachfield the first in this part of the country and perhaps the second in Scotland, for before 1730, fine linens were sent to Holland to be bleached and dressed.
In 1732, a plan was furnished by Mr Lewis Gordon, a land surveyor, brought up from England specifically for the purpose of surveying the forming tenured lands.
John Cockburn died in 1747.
John, second Earl of Hopetoun succeeded the family of Cockburn by purchase in 1747. John was strictly religious and started each day by reading a portion of scripture and recommend himself to the protection of the Almighty. The was ever ready to help those that were distressed but not to those that were so due to idleness or extravagance. As such he had a lot to do with the greatness of Edinburgh’s Royal Infirmary by mark of his generosity. John only spend part of the year residing in Ormiston, spending at least eight months away residing in Hopetoun House. His family and descendants lived and influenced the Parish and is still in the hands of the Earl of Hopetoun.
Robert Moffat the great African Missionary was the father in law of David Livingston and was born in the village.
One of the tenants of the old Schoolhouse on the Main Street was a nephew of Robert Burns, whose mother Isobel (Isabella) Burns was the poets sister. The old graveyard at the Byres homes the gravestone erected by Isobel in memory of her children, the nieces and nephews of the great Scottish Bard.