A section of old wall at Papple has been interpreted as the remains of a convent however it may actually be all that is left of an old tower.
The wall measures around 7.6m in height by around 4.6m in length and is around 0.9m thick. There are several dressed stones including the remains of a window frame, while on the inside edge is a step which may once have supported the springing for a vaulted basement. It occupies a position on rising ground to the north of the Whittinghame Water, along which are strung a series of towers.
The belief that the wall was once part of a convent seems to stem from a 14th century donation of land at Papple to the Cistercian abbey at Haddington, however there is no evidence of a religious establishment on the site. The abbey were granted numerous parcels of land across East Lothian, much of it farmland which would have provided food and an income for the abbey.
Alfred of Papple is on record in the late 12th or early 13th century when he was a witness to an agreement between the monks of Melrose and Robert of Stenton regarding the marches between Stenton and the grange of Hartside, and again when he witnessed a grant by Robert of Stenton to Melrose Abbey of five acres of land with the pasture of Elwaldescalesloningge in the territory of Stenton.
Later in the 13th century Papple was owned by the family of Lauder of the Bass, probably held from the Earl of March. In 1270 Alexander de Lavedre de Popil, son and heir of John de Lavedre de Popil, granted a charter to Gilbert Cockburn for 16 years’ possession of various lands in return for a loan. It would seem that Papple was sometimes given to the second son of Lauder of the Bass, the eldest son receiving the Bass itself, and sometimes served as the home of the eldest son whilst his father was still alive.
Around 1318 two charters were issued concerning lands at Papple. In one charter Alexander, son and heir of John of Popil, presumably the Lauders mentioned above, granted Gilbert of Chockeburn two oxgates of land in the territory of Popil which included two acres near the croft of the nuns of St. Boythane towards the east. Amongst the witnesses was Sir Hugh Gurlay, a steward of Patrick de Dunbar, 9th Earl of March, Patrick, son of Roger de Lawdre of Popil, and Rannulf, son of Patrick Savtemarays of Popil. The surname Savtemarays may refer to a saint, more of which later.
The nuns of St Bothans were another Cistercian order who were based near Gifford. The charter notes that Gilbert already held four acres of lands in Popil from Alexander, perhaps ones from their earlier arrangement.
In the other charter Hugh de Gourley, lord of Merkil, granted to Robert de Lawedir, the carucate of land with toft and croft within the town and tenement of Popil which Roger de Gurlay, his brother, held of him. Amongst the witnesses was Radulph Sautmarays de Popil.
William de Landallis, Bishop of St Andrews, confirmed to the nuns of Haddington in 1359 a toft and garden with eleven acres of land in Popil, which Patrick, son of Roger de Lawdre de Popil, had earlier granted to them. It is this grant which seems to have mistakenly been taken for the establishment of a convent at Papple. Roger was the eldest son of Sir Robert de Lawedre of the Bass and Edrington.
In 1373 George de Dunbar, 10th Earl of March, granted a charter to Henry de Ogoul of the lands of Popille. Whether these were the same lands as those owned by the Lauders or a subdivision is not clear.
The Earl of March was a powerful noble and a rival of the Douglas family. In 1395 his eldest daughter, Elizabeth, married David Stewart, Duke of Rothesay, son of Robert III and heir to the throne, however they married before the Papal mandate granting them permission arrived and two years later, under pressure from Archibald Douglas, 3rd Earl of Douglas, the marriage contract was cancelled.
Rather than remarry his wife of almost two years, the Duke of Rothesay was persuaded to marry Marjory Douglas, daughter of the Earl Douglas. As a consequence the Earl of March went to England in exile, joining the court of Henry IV. In 1398 the Earl of March, Sir Henry Percy, known as Hotspur, and Lord Thomas Talbot invaded Scotland with two thousand men, passing through the lands that formerly belonged to the Earl. They laid waste to the land including the village of Popill and twice attacked Hailes Castle.
In 1420 Adam of West Nisbet, son of Henry de Ogoul, was granted a charter of the lands of Popille. The Ogill family seem to have held positions of some influence as in September 1430 Alexander de Ogil de Popil witnessed an instrument on perambulation of the lands of Gladsmure. Henry Ogyll of Popill was part of a jury under Thomas de Cranstoune, Justiciar of the King, regarding a dispute over the boundaries of the two parts of Morhame in March 1450 or 1451.
In April 1450 James II granted to David de Lawder, uncle of Robert de Lawder de Edringtoune, and Mariote, his wife, the lands of Popill. Payment was two pairs of gilt spurs to the King, as Earl of March, to be paid at Popill on the feast of St. Michael the Archangel.
The Exchequer Rolls of Scotland show payments to the Earl of March, Patrick Hepburn of Halis, from Robert Lawedre for the lands of Popill in 1451. From 1454 to 1457 the payments are from David de Lawedre, however in 1458 William Hatlie paid 4 shillings to the Exchequer as the annual rent of his land and tenement in Popil.
In July 1458 Henre of Ogyl of Popil was one of several people given authority in a dispute between Dame Marioun of Dowglas, prioress of Haddington, and David Hay, Lord of Lochorwort and Yester, regarding the boundaries of the lands of West Hervystoun and the lands of Nwn Hervystoun and also of Oxtoun.
At the end of the following month James II confirmed the nunnery of Haddington in various possessions which included the toft with garden with eleven acres in the territory of Popil which had been given by Patrick, son of Roger de Popil.
In the Exchequer Rolls of 1460 William Hatelee again paid 4 shillings for his land and tenement in Popil and in 1461 he is described as holding land in the “villa de Popil” while David Laudre is also listed as owning the lands of Popil.
In May 1465 Robert Lauder, son and heir apparent of Sir Robert Lauder of Edryngtoun, asserted that David Lauder of Popil had given sasine and heritable possession of a certain piece of land in the town and territory of Popil to his eldest son, James Lauder, and his wife, Janet, at Robert’s expense. Robert threw “earth and stone outside the house belonging to the piece of land, and by breaking a plate with his foot, broke and annulled the said sasine and possession by James Laudre and his wife. Done at Popil, at 7 a.m. on 13th May 1465, before Henry Ogil of Popill, James Ogil, his eldest son” and other witnesses.
In March 1466 or 1467 Henry of Ogil of Popil was a member of an inquest which ruled that Sir William of Hay was heir to his father, Edmund Hay of Thalow, in the quarter lands of Lynplum. Henry was a witness in July 1469 regarding an instrument on perambulation of the marches of the lands of Waulchtoun and Estfortoun belonging to Sir Patrick Hepburne of Waulchtoun and the lands of Estfortoun belonging to the monastery of Houstoun.
Henry’s son and heir apparent, James Ogil, was summoned along with various others to answer their error on a breve of inquest procured from Alexander Stewart, Duke of Albany, Earl of March and Lord Annandale and Man, by Laurence Oliphant, 1st Lord Oliphant, regarding the lands of Cranschawis.
In 1483 both David Lauder of Pople and James Ogill claimed ownership of the mill dam of Pople and the following year James Ogill appeared before the lords auditors regarding the dispute, the mill dam having been destroyed in 1484. In 1493 James Ogill, Alexander Ogill, John Millar and Robert Henderson were accused of destroying the mill dam of Pople which belonged to David Lauder of Pople. They were ordered rebuild the mill and to pay him £3 a year for each of the previous 9 years to cover the mails and profits of the mill which Lauder had lost due to its destruction. As part of the evidence of his ownership Lauder presented a letter of gift and assignation from Richard Whitelaw and Janet Inglis, his spouse, for the third of the said mill and profits of it.
Also in 1493 the lords auditors decreed that David Lauder of Pople and Richard Whitelaw had illegally occupied, worked and manured the two parts of two ploughlands and half of the lands of Pople, which should have been worked by Archibald Boyd of Narston.
Lauder was luckier in his litigation the following year when the lords auditors decreed that John Leslie, son and heir of the late Alexander Leslie of Wardis, should pay to him 10 Scottish merks for each of the past 12 years, money owed to him by the aforementioned Alexander for handing over his rights to the lands of Balcolmie.
In January 1497 or 1498 Henry Ogill, son and heir apparent of James Ogill of Popil, was on a jury of inquest regarding a retour for Sir David Home of Wedderburn as heir to his father, George Home, in various lands in Berwickshire.
Robert Lauder de Bass received a grant of the lands of Popil, called Lauederislandis, which David Lawder had resigned, from James IV in January 1511 or 1512. A year later he received a new grant of the same lands when they were styled as the lands of Popil, called Lauderislandis, and Haitel-landis then called Quhitlawis-landis. The Whitelaws seem to have acquired the Haitlie lands in Popill prior to this time, hence the alias.
In May 1514 there was a sasine to Patrick Ogill of the lands of Popill also known as Sanctmawrislandis. Given the name it may be that these were the lands that were previously granted to the nuns of Haddington. The name has been interpreted as “St. Maurice’s land” but may actually refer to Saint Maura. It is however also possible that a saint’s name has become attached to the site mistakenly, as two individuals with the surnames Savtemarays of Popil and Sautmarays de Popil witnessed the charters of 1318. Individuals with similar surnames seem to have had something to do with Tynemouth Priory in England, so perhaps there is a saint connection there after all.
Sir Robert Lauder of the Bass died in 1518 and his estates, including Popill, passed to his son, also Robert Lauder. The younger Robert married Margaret, daughter of Sir Oliver Sinclair of Roslin, and they had nine sons and three daughters, the eldest of whom was Sir Robert Lauder of Popill.
William Ogill received a sasine of the lands of Popill, also known as Sanct Maurislandis, in April 1546 and in July of that year a sasine of the lands of Popill, also known as Sanct Maris landis.
The tower at Papple may have been destroyed or damaged by William Grey, 13th Baron Grey de Wilton, in 1548 while on his way to or from the siege of Haddington.
In April 1552 Henry Ogill received a sasine of the lands of Popill, known colloquially as Sanct Mawris landis, with the mill, multures, annexes, and so on. It would seem that the nunnery at Haddington may have still held these lands or some nearby as in October 1560 Elizabeth, prioress of the nunnery, granted the lands of Garvald Grange to Patrick Home, son of the late Agnes Hepburn. The boundaries of the lands are described in the grant as being “bounded by the Brighill, extending to the Kirkpeth and lands of Garvald on west, those of the laird of Popill on north, Quhitcastell alias Nunraw on south, and lands of Popill, Stanipetht, Hyndhewch on east”.
William Ogill of Popill was writer to the chancellery and clerk of the chancellery depute in 1563 and resident in Haddington.
In February 1566 Sir Robert Lauder of Popill married his stepmother’s niece, Margaret Hay, daughter of William, 4th Lord Hay of Yester, and widow of James, 7th Lord Borthwick. Sir Robert resigned the lands, manor house and mills of Popill into the Queen’s hands to be regranted to him and his spouse. These would be held from the Queen for the annual payment of two pairs of guilt spurs. The marriage contract was signed at Beill, perhaps suggesting that Papple had fallen out of use by this time.
In the same year Robert Lauder de Popyll received a sasine of the lands of Stevinstoun with the tower, fortalice, manor and so on. He sold these same lands in June 1569 to William Maitland, younger of Lethington, and his wife, Mary Fleming.
In July 1574 James VI confirmed a charter by Robert Lauder de Bass to Lord Robert Lauder de Poppill, his son and heir apparent, and his wife, Margaret Hay, of the lands of Poppill with the manor, doocot, mill and multures. The younger Robert predeceased his father in 1575 however, and since his own son, also Robert, had died before him as had his brother, John Lauder of Biell, it was his next brother, James, Dean of Restalrig, who was to succeed in the lands of Lauder of the Bass.
James seems to have had some kind of conflict with his father however as a contract was drawn up between them according to which James resigned the lands of the Bass in favour of his brother, George, in exchange for a fee. Robert Lauder of the Bass died in 1576 and James was however styled Mr. James Lauder of Bass, heir to Sir Robert Lauder of Pople, his brother, when he was granted precept of clare constat in the bailliary of lordship of Tyninghame in May 1580.
Although the nunnery at Haddington had been dissolved in 1567 the nuns of St. Bothans still held land at Papple as in May 1584 a contract was signed between “Dame Elizabeth Hwme, prioress of the abbey of St. Bothanis, and Alexander Hwme of Hwtounhall” according to which Alexander would be the assignee during Elizabeth’s lifetime in the mails and duties of the priory lands which included “an acre of land in Popill with an onstead (5s)”.
George had certainly taken possession of the Bass lands by 1588 as in February of that year James VI confirmed to Master George Lawder de Bas and Isobel Hepburn, his future wife and eldest daughter of Lord Patrick Hepburn de Wauchtoune, the lands and lordship of Poppill with the mill, mill lands and manor, and land of Wester Spote (which Andrew Broun and Thomas Watsoun occupied), which George had resigned.
George, his wife, and their son and heir, also George, received a new grant from the King in March 1597 or 1598 of various lands including the lands of Poppill called Lauders-landis and Haitleis-landis alias Quhitlawis-landis. The elder George died in 1617 and was succeeded by his son who also inherited considerable debts from his father and would be the last Lauder of the Bass.
In August 1621James VI formally dissolved the priory of Haddington and granted its lands and possessions to John Maitland, Master of Lauderdale. These included “ane toft and ane gardine with ellevin aikeris of land in the territorie of Popill, withe the pertinentis”, the toft and garden with 11 acres of land in the territory of Papple, with the pertinents.
On the 11th of March 1622 James VI granted to David Lindsay, second son of Patrick, Bishop of Ross, various properties including lands in Popill anciently estimated at 1 acre with with one “lie ouset” and the perintents. On the 30th of the same month the King granted and gave a new dedication, according to a session of Parliament in August 1621, to John, Master of Lauderdale, of various possessions of the abbey of Haddington which included a toft and garden with 11 acres in the territory of Popill.
In February 1623 James VI granted numerous properties, including the lands of Popill, comprising of at least 34 husband lands, to John Murray of Lochmaben, Viscount Annand, a Gentleman of the Bedchamber. In the same year George Lauder of the Bass issued a bond to John Paip in return for 5400 merks. This bond may have been connected to a grant made by the King in June 1623 to Master John Paip, Writer of the Signet, his wife, Mariota Bassendean, and their son and heir, Master Robert Paip, of various lands including the lands of Popill, Lauderis-landis, Hatleyis-landis alias Quhytlawis, with the part named Auld Hadingtoun.
George Lauder’s financial problems evidently continued as in September 1624 the King granted to Thomas Hamilton, 1st Earl of Melrose, Lord Binning and Byres, various lands including the “lands of Popill called Lauderislandis and Haitleislandis otherwise Quhytlawis-landis with that part thereof called Auldhadingtoune, mill and mill-lands thereof” which were apprised from George Lauder of the Bass. The Earl of Melrose resigned the same lands, including Popill, in favour of his second son, Sir James Hamilton of Priestfield, in 1625 and they were incorporated into the free barony of Beill in June of that year. Sir James was married to Anne Hepburn, daughter of Sir Patrick Hepburn of Waughton.
In July 1625 there was a sasine at the Manor Place of Popill and mill of Popillmilne at hands of George Hepburne of Alderstoun, baillie for Beatrice Ged, relict of Patrick Greiff, provost of Burntisland, and Robert Richardsone, eldest son to Robert Richardsone, burgess of Brunteland, to George Pringill, servant to Thomas, Earl of Melrose, as attorney for Sir James Hamilton of Preistfeild of an annualrent of 1600 merks Scots for the lands of Popill called Lauderislandis and Haitleyislandis alias Quhytlawis landis, with mill thereof.
Charles I made a new grant to the Earl of Melrose in August 1625 of the lands of Beill including the lands and mill of Popill called Laudersland and Hailiesland alias Quhytlawis. Two years later the King granted the same lands to James Levingstoun which the Earl of Melrose, Thomas Hamilton, Lord Binning, James Hamilton de Preistfeild, Master John Paip, his wife, Mariota Bassindean, and their son, Master Robert Paip, had all resigned.
In 1630 the arms of Ogill of Popylle were included in The Armorial of Sir David Lyndsay of the Mount but by this time the Ogill family seem to have lived at Papplehead, possibly now the site of the farm steading to the north-east of Papple House.
In November 1649 John Hepburn of Wauchton was served heir to his father, Sir Patrick Hepburn of Wauchtoune, in the barony of Wauchtoun and numerous lands which included the “lands of Popill, called Laudersland, alias Whytlawesland (vel Haitliesland) with the mill of Popill”. The old value of Popill was given as 20 merks and the new value as 80 merks. Whether this was related to Anne Hepburn’s marriage to Sir James Hamilton of Priestfield is unclear.
John Hepburn sold some of his family’s properties to Alexander Cockburn in 1654 and in May 1670 Patrick Cockburn of Popill, heir of Alexander Cockburn of Popill, was retoured in the lands called Lauderslands, and Haitliesland alias Whytlaweslands, with the mill of Popill, a piece of land called Boigend which was part of the lands of Popil, the lands of Old Haddington, the lands of Clints and the lands of Wauchtoune. The following year Patrick received the lands of Easter Winshiell and sundry other lands from Sir Robert Sinclair of Stevenson.
In February 1672 Alexander Cockburn, in Lethame, sought a decree of transumpt requiring John Hepburn of Waughton to produce documents relating to various lands in East Lothian, including Pople, Old Haddington and the Bass. In March Patrick Cockburne of Borthwick, son of the deceased Alexander Cockburn of Pople, made a disposition and assignation to George Forrest of Gimmersmilnes of a tenement of land with the yard pertaining to it lying on the east side of the Commone Gait of Haddington.
Around this time Mr. David Ogill of Popill registered his arms with the Court of the Lord Lyon, perhaps indicating that they retained an interest in the property. The Lauders and Hamiltons may also have retained some interest as in April 1673 John Lauder, son of Sir John Lauder, 1st Baronet, of Newington and Fountainhall, made a payment of “a hundred merks and 8 dollars to Marie Hamilton in pairt payment of the right she had upon Popill”.
In February 1675 a signature of the lands of Pople was granted to Sir Robert Sinclair, and in July 1679 Margaret Guthrie wrote a letter from Popill hall.
Papple seems to have remained a part of the Waughton lands however as in May 1680 Sir Andrew Ramsay of Waughtoun received “the lands of Papill, called Lauderslands and Hairlieslands (Whytelands, sic) with the mill of Papil.” Sir Andrew had married Margaret Hepburn, the daughter and heir of John Hepburn of Waughton and was the son of Sir Andrew Ramsay of Abbotshall, Provost of Edinburgh.
The lands were evidently still held from the Earl of March as the rents of the feuars of the Earldom of March for 1681 included the “Annuitie of Popill” valued at 4 shillings and “Popill by vendition of 2 pair gilt spurs payes” valued at 13 shillings 4 pence.
Between 1686 and 1690 George Cessford seems to have illegally interfered with the rents and crops of Waughton and Pople and was charged with intromission.
In July 1695 William II granted to Sir John Hall of Dunglass, former Lord Provost of Edinburgh, various lands including “all and entire the lands and barony of Wauchton, comprehending the lands, baronies, mills, mill-lands, teinds, woods, fishings, manor places, houses, biggings, yards, orchards, muirs, mosses, tenants, tenantries, service of free tenants, offices and others whatsoever, specially and generally mentioned and contained in the rights and infeftments of the same, made and granted to Sir Andrew Ramsay of Abbotshall, and to Sir Andrew Ramsay of Wauchton (excepting the lands of Popille and pertinents of the same, which is annexed to the foresaid barony)”. Sir John died in November or December of the same year however.
Ogle of Popilhall is mentioned regarding the election for the Shire of East Lothian in 1703.
By 1707 Walter Stuart, 6th Lord Blantyre, seems to have owned Papple as in March of that year he agreed to provide James Graham, 4th Marquess of Montrose, with “as much of the rents of the estate of Lennox for crop 1705 and of the barony and lands of Lethington and Pople lying in the sheriffdom of Haddington for the crop 1706 and 1707 as will equate to” the sum of £12,762 and 15 shillings Scots which he owed the Marquess.
Contained within the Blantyre papers are accounts and receipts of Charles Murray’s intromissions with the rents of Lennoxlove, Papple and Papplehall in 1743 and 1744, and tacks of the lands of Papple, Papplehall, Coalpitshot and others belonging to the Lennoxlove estate from 1766 to 1768.
In 1820 James Balfour of Whittinghame acquired the lands of Clints, Old Haddington and Liehouses, Popill, Laudersland and Haitleysland, with mill of Popill, from the commissioners of Robert Walter Stuart, 11th Lord Blantyre, and held them from the Crown.
Balfour was the second son of John Balfour of Balbirnie and made a fortune supplying the Royal Navy in India. He returned to Scotland in 1815 and married Eleanor Maitland, daughter of James Maitland, 8th Earl of Lauderdale, and from 1831 until 1835 was the Tory Member of Parliament for Haddingtonshire.
By the 1840s the fragmentary remains of the tower at Papple had been incorporated into the south-east corner of a cow shed. Evidently the tower had long been superseded by Papple House a short distance to the north-west.
James Balfour died in 1845 and was succeeded by his eldest son, James Maitland Balfour, who was the Conservative Member of Parliament for Haddington Burghs between 1841 and 1847 and increased his family’s already considerable fortune as a director of the North British Railway. He died in 1856 and was succeeded by his eldest son, Arthur Balfour.
Arthur was Conservative Member of Parliament for English constituencies from 1874 and served as Secretary of State for Scotland from 1886 to 1887. He was also a noted agricultural reformer and during this period the farm stead at Papple was reconstructed as a model farm.
From July 1902 until December 1905 Arthur Balfour served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, was made Earl of Balfour in 1922 and in 1930 died having never married. The property was sold in 2017 by his descendant, the 5th Earl of Balfour, and is now in private hands.
Alternative names for Papple
Papill; Paple; Popie; Popil; Popill; Popille; Pople; Poppill; Popple; Popyll; Popylle