Beggars Bush: A Perambulation through the Disciplines of History, Geography, Archaeology, Literature, Philology, Natural History, Botany, Biography & Beggary

East Lothian, Scotland Beggars Bush 1842

Beggars Bush House is now at 53 Haddington Road, EU21 7SZ, and all references appear to be to a house. The location of that is close to the boundary between Edinburgh & Haddingtonshire. An entry in the Edinburgh & Leith County Directory 1842 gives Andrew Elley, gardener at Beggars Bush. The name is not shown on the 1854 or 1898 OS Maps or Wm. Roy’s Military Survey of Scotland 1747-55. The name is referred to in The East Lothian (Electoral Arrangements) Order 1998, Statutory Instrument 1998 No. 2804 (S. 164) defining the boundary of Ward 5 Musselburgh East.

Although the Dublin, Donnybrook Beggars Bush is near Haddington Road, that place name pre-dated the road so no connection is likely. Milne, J., Gaelic Place Names of the Lothians, (McDougalls, London & Edinburgh, 1912, p.7) gives a derivation “Bushy place on a little shieling, Beggars for Beag Airidh, small shieiing, beag small, airidh, shieling”. This seems both unlikely and unnecessary. There is no good reason to assume that the name has Gaelic origins given or that the name was ever used, although an Anglicisation cannot be ruled out.

Andrew Ralton’s The Roads that led by Prestoungrange (2004) p.28 says “Edgebuckling Brae was where Somerset’s troops camped prior to the Battle of Pinkie in 1544 after ransacking Prestonpans. Blaeu, in his notes to his Atlas of 1654 calls this brae ‘Bush Hill’ separating the Shires of Edinburgh and Haddington. On the other side of this hill is nearby Ravenshaugh Road and also nearby is a house named Beggars Bush . . .” This suggests a possible development from Bush Hill to Beggars Bush, with the name being humorous rather than derogatory.

There was nearby a noted thorn tree, but this seems to be unrelated – there is no record that this was called Beggars Bush.  Similarly, although it is possible that this may have been the site referred to by Thomas Trotter in his poem dated 1829, or inspired it, I cannot show any direct connection.

OS Grid


Posted: April 25th, 2011 | Filed under: Places | Tags: , , | No Comments »

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