Did You Know?

Whose monument stands in Memorial Park opposite the West Church in Haddington?

Have you ever wondered whose statue stands at this junction and what was he revered for?

This is the statue of Robert Ferguson. “Who?” you say. Let’s give you some background to this gentleman.

The following is the inscription at the base of the monument.

In memory of Robert Ferguson of Raith M.P. [Member of Parliament] Lord Lieutenant of Fife F.R.S.L., F.R.S.E. etc. A kind landlord a liberal dispenser of wealth. A generous patron of literature Science and Art. An enlightened supporter of the interests of his country. This monument is Erected by the Tenantry of East Lothian and many friends of all classes who united in admiring his Public Virtues and to whom he was endeared by every quality that flows from Goodness of Heart A.D. 1843

None the wiser?

Well, Robert Ferguson of Raith was a landowner with substantial estates and political influence in Haddingtonshire and Fife. He was also a respected amateur geologist after whom the mineral Fergusonite is named.

His parliamentary career as the Member for Fife had been curtailed in 1807 on account of the local unpopularity of the current administration, which he had supported, and the scandal of his acknowledged adultery with the Countess of Elgin.  Her first husband, the 7th Earl of Elgin reknowned for bringing back to the UK the Parthenon Marbles, successfully sued Ferguson in both the English and Scottish courts that year for £10,000 in damages in one of the bitterest and most high profile divorce cases of the era. Elgin denied his ex-wife all contact with their children. 

In due course, Mary and Robert Ferguson married and settled in Archerfield, Dirleton where they became very popular with the tenantry.

Follow this link to the Society’s recent talk on the Partheon Marbles and their connection to Robert Ferguson.