Aberlady goes back a long way. There are no signs of any Roman setlements. However, it appears that there was an Iron Age settlement taking advantage of the sheltered coastal location provided by the bay.
Aberlady also has a long history of smuggling. Archaeological findings support the theory that smuggling was in existence even before the Iron Age settlements.
In the 7th century, Aberlady was a major Christian site and it remained on the pilgrimage route between Iona and Lindisfarne until early medieval times. It is assumed that a chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mary once stood here.
Aberlady parish church with its beautiful graveyard full of ancient gravestones is the place to reflect the British Empire and one local family in particular.
a colony of lepers and Caroline Charteris
Lady Caroline was born in January 1816 at Aberlady, East Lothian. She was the daughter of Francis Charteris-Wemyss-Douglas, Earl of Wemyss and his countess wife, Margaret, from Gosford House, near Longniddry in East Lothian.
One of nine children, she mingled in the highest society – there are records of her and sister Lady Jane having attended the Queen’s Drawing Room in May 1835 and meeting Queen Victoria. She shared her riches with the Bishop of London’s Mission Fund, giving a guinea a year to help aid missionary work in London, and provide soup and blankets for the poor of the parish of Vauxhall in 1886. But while her donation in 1889 to a leper colony in the Hawaiian Islands may have been kind-hearted, it’s unclear just what they made of an ariston – a organette-type disc player that serenaded them with 40 tunes as they turned a handle.
When she died in 1891, Lady Jane donated £6500 to build and furnish the Lady Caroline Charteris Memorial Wing at the children’s hospital along with £12,083 to create The Lady Caroline Charteris Endowment Fund.
Aberlady is the burial place for the Earls of Wemyss and their family apart from one who was buried in the mausoleum in Gosford Park.
Alfred Walter Charteris and the Ashanti Wars
Alfred Walter Charteris was born in 1847 and died at sea at the age of 26 off the coast of Africa, november 23rd 1873. He was the son von Francis Charteris, 10th Earl of Wemyss and Anne Frederica Charteris, Countess of Wemyss. He was buried at sea, not at Aberlady churchyard. His memorial stone states he had been aide de camp to general Sir Garnet Joseph Wolseley in the Third Ashantee War, also known as the “First Ashanti Expedition”.
General Garnet Wolseley was sent against the Ashanti with 2,500 British troops and several thousand West Indian and African troops (including some Fante) and subsequently became a household name in Britain. (Wikipedia)
Since the first troops arrived late in December 1873, Alfred Walter Charteris died not in but on the way to the conflict.
The Anglo-Ashanti wars were a series of five conflicts that took place between 1824 and 1900 between the Ashanti Empire—in the Akan interior of the Gold Coast—and the British Empire and its African allies. Though the Ashanti emerged victorious in some of these conflicts, the British ultimately prevailed in the fourth and fifth conflicts, resulting in the complete annexation of the Ashanti Empire by 1900. The wars were mainly due to Ashanti attempts to establish a stronghold over the coastal areas of present-day Ghana. Coastal peoples such as the Fante and the Ga came to rely on British protection against Ashanti incursions. (Wikipedia)
Liked the read? There’s more here…
The stories of this book have been discovered and gathered for my blog, Graveyards of Scotland, over many years. Find treasure all over Scotland with my latest book. I am Nellie Merthe Erkenbach, journalist and author.The fairy hill in Inverness, a nitrate murder on Shetland, a family of left-handers, wolves, Robert the Bruce and William Wallace shown in a new light, the secret bay of the writer Gavin Maxwell, a murdering poet and so many things you didn’t know about Scotland, its clans and its history.
My main sources were historical travel guides from the 18th and 19th centuries, where the finds were scary, beautiful, funny, and sometimes, cruel.
This unusual approach to a country’s history has produced amazing results. You don’t have to share my passion for cemeteries to enjoy this book; only a small number of the stories in this collection take place in graveyards, though they do all end in them, so perhaps it helps.
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