The legend of a knight called Edmund coming from Hungary with Queen Margaret, wife of Malcolm III, cannot be substantiated. More factually it seems almost certain that the Edmonstones descend from the Setons, a family of Norman extraction, who held extensive lands in the Lothians. Most surnames originally stemmed from a designation. The word tun or ton signified a town and therefore it seems probable that an Edmund, of the race of Seton, received the lands of Edmonstone in Midlothian, in the parish of Newton, four miles to the east of Edinburgh, as his appendage. The similarity of the three crescents which appear in the coats of arms in the Edmonstones of Duntreath and of the Setons of Abercorn, near Linlithgow, give added evidence of relationship between the families concerned.

The fact that there is a place called Edmonstone in Lanarkshire is confusing, but no documentation has as yet been found to prove its connection with the senior line of the family.

The name is first recorded in 1248 when Henricus de Edmundiston was witness to a charter. In 1359, in the reign of David II, an inquest before the Baillie of Musselborough, declared that "Henricus de Edmundiston" had died and that "Johannes de Edmundiston" was his legitimate son and heir. It added that he held land of the Abbey of Dumfermline.

John Edmonstone, in 1352, was appointed by charter coroner to the district of Lothian. In 1363 he joined the escort which accompanied David II to England to negotiate a truce. In 1367 and again in 1369 passports were issued to Sir John and other knights, to travel to England on the King's behalf. The truce concluded at Edinburgh Castle, on the 20th July 1369, was signed by John de Edmondiston Miles and others of the chief nobility.

David II died in 1371 and thereafter Sir John Edmonstone acted for Robert II. In 1372 he travelled to England with twelve men, and in the following year of 1373 was sent as part of an embassy to Rome, an entry in the Exchequer Rolls, for 406-13s-4d, showing its expenses.

A charter of Robert II, dated 31st January 1374, authorised Sir John to travel as one of his ambassadors to France. They carried his instructions to intercede with Charles V to influence the Pope and Cardinals on behalf of Margaret Logie (widow of David II) in a suit to be brought before the papal court. Also they demanded reparation for attacks by Norman pirates on Scots traders.

In 1381 a passport was issued to John de Edmonstone, chevalier, with 16 men and 16 horses, to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, while another for the following year permitted their return.

Sir John must have been a man of substance. He was granted a charter of the lands and barony of Boyn, in Banff, by David II in 1369, and some lands near Haddington in East Lothian by Robert II. Also he seems to have been a trader. It is recorded that Richard II of England allowed him to take 200 quarters of malt with his own vessels from a port on the coast of Lincolnshire to any port he pleases in Scotland.

The date of his death, and likewise the identity of his wife, are unknown, but records show that he was succeeded by his eldest son, also named John. Also according to Sir Archibald Edmonstone, 3rd Bt, the Archibald, who founded the family of Duntreath was probably his younger son. (See Edmonstone of Duntreath) John Edmonstone the younger was a courtier like his father. He married Isabel, or Isabella, daughter of Robert II and widow of James, 2nd Earl of Douglas and Mar. The estate of Edenham, or Ednam, in Roxburghshire, was granted to them by Robert 11 in 1390.

Sir John by this marriage had one son David. An "agreement by way of indenture", dated Perth, April 7th, 1410, between Sir John Edmonstone of that ilk and Davy Edmonstone, his son and heir, with Patrick (Graham) Earl of Strathearn... of the lands and barony of Tillyallan (Tullyallan?) in Clackmannashire, proves their acquisition of this property.

Sir David, according to the Ednam pedigree, married Agnes, daughter of Robert Maitland of Thirlestane. He must have died in the prime of life for, in 1426, there is an inquest serving James Edmonstone as heir to this father.

In 1430 James Edmonstone, while still a boy, was amongst the sons of the nobility who were knighted by James I of Scotland at Holyrood during the celebrations which followed the christening of the King's twin infant sons.

Sir James married firstly Isabella, daughter of Sir John Forester (ancestor of the Lords Forester of Corstorphine) by whom he had a son named John. Secondly he married Janet, daughter of Sir Alexander Napier (ancestor of the Lords Napier) by whom he had two daughters, Elizabeth and Margaret. The estates of Tillyallan, and of Boyne, in Banffshire where divided between them thus went out of the family.

Sir James was succeeded in the patrimonial estates of Edmonstone and Ednam by his son John. Subsequently the Edmonstones, styled of "that ilk" and of Edenham" continued to use Edmonstone in Midlothian as their main residence until it was sold in 1624.

The family then moved to Edenham, or Ednam, in Roxburghshire, but this estate was sold by James Edmondstoune, last male heir of the senior line of the family, who died unmarried in 1772. It then changed hands several times until bought in 1827 by the 1st Earl of Dudley who took Ednam as his second title.

Sir James Edmondstoune, prior to selling Ednam, had purchased the estate of Cora on the Clyde. His sisters lived there until the death of the of the last in 1826, when she was reputedly over a hundred years old.

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