The Scottish Statistical Accounts have made an important contribution to historiography and still provide a valuable resource for students of social history. The first one is particularly useful because of the wide range of interests shown by the writers and the breadth of their interpretation of the intentions of its originator, Sir John Sinclair. Some contributors were enthusiastic and responded rapidly to the vast questionnaire sent by Sinclair; others were less active and some of these had to be written to 21 times before they opened up. The replies not only took different times but varied greatly in the themes developed and the scope given them.
Today’s contributors have been brisker and have stuck to the themes offered them. They have had the advantage that social history is now reckoned as a respected academic discipline, but that has not reduced the workload of writing. Contribution has involved a burden of research and writing. Historians and general readers in the future will be grateful to the contributors, and to the organisers of the project, for undertaking this task.
East Lothian is not a big county but it has long been an important one within Scotland. Its nearness to the capital has meant that developments within the county have had considerable influence within Scotland, and its coastal towns have spread some of that influence to England. Its high quality farmland has led to an agricultural influence on both sides of the Border. Its scenic beauty, both in the hill country and the farmland have made it of value to walkers, its rich country houses, carefully preserved, have encouraged tourism and been enabled thereby to remain cared for. It is a privilege to live in it, and the value of this privilege will be enhanced by this publication.
Professor Rosalind Mitchison