Unlike most of the villages in Muiravonside, Maddiston has a long history: the lands of Maddiston being mentioned as early as 1424 in a charter relating to the barony of Haining.  Evidently, at some early time the lands were divided and we find references to ‘the Wester Room of Maddiston’ and the ‘North Room of Maddiston’. In 1561 ‘John Knollis of Mawdestoun’, a burgess of Linlithgow, gave the lands of ‘Mawdestoun’ in ‘liferent’ to his ‘promised wife’, Janet Cranston. At that time there was at the very least a township there as Janet went through a traditional ceremony to take possession of her gift. This was done ‘by enclosing her in the principal house occupied by Patrick Dik, all others being excluded’. Patrick would have been the principal tenant but there would have been also have been several sub-tenants as well as cotters.

Coal was being mined in the parish as early as 1501 and the earliest recorded ‘coal-hewer in Madistoune’ was Allan Hill in 1581. It is interesting to note that Allan Hill left a will and testament. Further mention of coal in Maddiston comes in 1610 when the king conceded to George Livingston of Ogilface [West Lothian] among other things the ‘coals from within the lands of Maduston …, and four coalhewer’s houses with the kale yards beside the lands of Maduston occupied by John Gray, Patrick Liddell, David Broun and  with power to ‘cast coalheughs, the airhoillis, staires, pottis, sinkis, syoures [sewers], lang-syoures, eyis, wattergangis etc.’

A report of 1723 states: ‘The village of Maduston stands upon the foresaid burn [Parkhall Burn or Manuel Burn] half a mile southwest from the [parish] Kirk – here are good coal pits’. With the coming of the Industrial Revolution the demand for coal rose enormously. Carron Company leased most of the coal mines in Muiravonside. They also exploited the iron ore that lay within the coal strata. Though the iron ore was later replaced by imported material the coal pits continued to thrive throughout the Victorian era.  Rumford grew up as a mining village with an almost one hundred per cent Irish Catholic population – it had a separate Catholic Church as early as 1890 and still has despite closures and mergers elsewhere.

Coal mining continued to be important well into the modern era and when the decline came after World War II the arrival of Smiths transport company no doubt helped to offset the loss of jobs as the mines closed and the farms reduced their labour forces.

The lands of Quarrellhead are first noted in 1678 at which time houses were occupied there. This is now part of the village and the name Quarrellhead reflects another activity practised there for the word ‘quarrel’ was used in Scotland for a quarry. Quarrying, like coal, was not confined to Maddiston and references to several quarries in the parish appear. Certainly, the stone was not only being extracted at Maddiston but was being shaped by masons operating there. In the eighteenth century the Baird family owned the quarry and in 1753 Alexander Baird of Quarrellhead was described as ‘mason in Maddingstone’and John Baird as ‘mason in Quarrellhead’

In Scotland, the element –ton, or toun as it appears in old documents, is simply the Scottish form of ‘town’. However, these names are most often used of fermtoons, agricultural holdings farmed communally by several tenants. They were the most common type of settlement in Scotland before the Industrial Revolution. In most instances names that have this element are prefixed by a personal name, usually that of a family who had early and, often, long association with the place. Muiravonside is particularly rich in this type of name; Blackston (sometimes appearing as Blaxton) is an example and there are many records of people of that name living there such as ‘Robert Black in Blackstoune’ in 1635. Also of interest is that part of the lands of Maddiston was Davidston, on record from 1629. This lay in the area where Toravon House is situated. There is no problem in recognising from whom it is named. However, Maddiston appears to come from a less well known surname. In 1424 it is found as Maudirstoun and probably incorporates the personal name Maider, the contemporary forms of which are Madour and Maddyr.

John Reid (2005)