The History of Leith

December 20, 2003

South Leith Records 2

The records from 4th January 1599 – 25th March 1613 for South Leith Parish Church

4th January 1599 The Session ordered that a testimonial be given to master George Simple for approving of his life and doctrine during his stay in Leith. The Clark was instructed to extract from the records whatever acts were made in his favor. He is commended for his godly example of honest conversation to the great comfort of the Session and the Town.

(Editors note-When a person left his home town to live somewhere else he had to have a testimonial or letter from the Session saying that he was a person of good character. Without that letter he wouldn’t be able to settle in his new town or be able to find work.)

May 1599 Thomas Dougall was accused of excessive drinking and was advised that if he was found in that condition he would be fined ten pounds Scots

28th February 1600 George Carr workman for swearing made his repentance in the Kirk and on the pillar with paper on his head bearing this inscription “for swearing and leaving his children alone when he went to Flanders.

William Alistair never noted for drinking had been found drunk was to be fined ten marks in future.

On the subject of excessive drinking it was ordered by the Session that anyone found drunk will be fined an amount decreed by the Session and the money to be used for the benefit of the poor.

(Editors note- The repentance stool rested against a pillar in the North Aisle. The person making his repentance would stand in the doorway of the Church wearing Sackcloth and a dunce’s hat and then he would have to sit on the repentance stool during the service.).

1st March 1600 The Session agreed to contract James Skleter to make the Roof and church water tight and the contract was to run for three years. James Skleter being paid ten pounds per year. The Masters and Mariners to pay eight marks and the Kirk to pay the rest.

18th September 1601 John Geddes was accused of having people drinking in his house during the time of preaching and was fined five shillings if he was caught again do the same thing he was to be fined eleven shillings.

11th December 1601 John Geddes was warned and accused of having people drinking in his house during the time of preaching and was fined eleven shillings and if he commits the same thing again the fine would be four pounds Scots.

2nd April 1602 David Grieve was accused of mistreating his wife Helen Sellearman. Ordered that if the likes happened again by word or deed would deal with him to the limit of their powers.

(Editors note-The Session powers usually were limited to ecclesiastical cases. However if sitting with the Bailles or Magistrates had Civil authority which could lead to the death penalty being imposed.)

25th July 1602 The Session with the agreement of the Magistrates commanded by open Proclamation and by striking of the drum. That no inhabitant of the town were to send their children to any school other then the boys to Mr. Thomas and the girls to James Hay from this time forth and all other schools to be closed and discharged under the act of registration and penalty. James Hay shall have for his service in the Kirk yearly eight pounds and the magistrates bind themselves to pay one hundred and twenty pounds a year to James Hay

10th May 1603 Mr. Jeremy Lindsay required a license to build upon the South side of the Kirk wall the form of a Tomb for the burial place of Margaret Cochill his wife to which the whole Session agreed as a thing most comely and honest.

(Editors note- The Kirk wall mentioned here ran approximately down the middle of the present day churchyard. Unfortunately this wall doesn’t exist now being removed in 1822 to expand the Churchyard. Although the first headstone in the Churchyard was erected in 1656 it would appear that tombs were permitted as indicated by this entry. In fact when a Geo-physical was done in the Church yard such Tombs were found.)

11th September 1603. The Session ordered that in March the following year the roof of the Church would be repaired

8th March 1605 Thomas Dougall being accused of excessive drinking tried to excuse himself by saying that he had been in Edinburgh and had fasted all day and had met a man at the Nether bow who had given him Brandy which went to his head and that he was never noted for drinking. He paid the penalty.

4th April 1605 Abraham Wauchop was appointed Baillie of St Anthony and he would hold court after Whitsun assisted by members of the Session that he would choose.

20th October 1605 John Matheson asks the Session for a license to have two chairs in the Kirk for his wife and mother.

25th October 1605 It was finally agreed by the Session that Robert Mitchell shall take over from Thomas Bunkhill who had died and carry all the normal duties connected to the Clock. However he will be paid twenty pounds per year.

(Editors note-see entry 11th July 1594 South Leith Parish Church had one of the earliest Church Clocks in Scotland. The term used for a clock was “knok”)

20th January 1606 John Ballantyne and Thomas Johnston in the name of the Maltmen protested to the Session and dissented from the sell of the windmill.

(Editors note- There were three Windmills in Leith the only one to be seen today without sails is the Signal Tower on the Shore. However it started life off as a Rapeseed Windmill. It was built by Robert Mylne in 1685. The other two were built at St Anthony’s (Yardheads) and at Links Lane near to South Leith Church.)

14th March 1606 Mt Jeremy Lindsay in the presence of the Session delivered to Abraham Waches one hundred marks in complete payment of the windmill

7th November 1606 John Matheson one of the elders of the Session obtained licence of the Session a seat or desk at the east side of the pulpit.

27th November 1606 The session granted a licence to Mr Jeremy Lindsay to erect a desk for his mother, wife and sister on the West side of the Pulpit

(Editors note-The desk referred to here would have been an enclosed box pew with a table)

19th December 1606 It had been discovered that some silver had been stolen out of a box in the counsel house. The Session summoned four people who had seen lights on late at night in the counsel house. They re named as Alexander Henderson a gardener, William Crawford, William Tod and Patrick Porteous. The first witness was Alexander Henderson a gardener aged forty years and married. His evidence was that on the 26th November last he was going through the Churchyard at about ten o’clock at night he heard running in the Kirk and had struck out at a horse with his baton the lights were on in the counsel house and Kirk doors were closed. It was then the turn of William Crawford a man of eighty years and after being sworn in said that about six week ago during the evening he saw a light in the counsel house which he saw from his house and likewise he said that twenty day previous he and his wife had seen lights on in the counsel house between midnight and three in the morning.

(Editors note-What is interesting in this entry is the use of the word “oulkes” which is old Scots for weeks)

23rd December 1606 After the sermon Mr John Murray minister and Mr William Strang Reader and Clark to the session and a number of elders being convened in the counsel house interviewed under caution William Tod a married man aged thirty and said that five weeks ago while coming through the Churchyard he had seen lights on in the counsel house at about eleven o’clock at night

2nd January 1607 The Kirk Officer Robert Mitchell was then sworn in and caution by the Session. His evidence was that didn’t know how the lights were left on or how the boxes were kepted at such a time of night as the previous witnesses had said. Because he had the keys of both the Kirk door and the Counsel house door or how the theft occurred as he also made the keys of the chest and boxes where the silver was kepted. . Despite his denials Robert Mitchell was suspended from his Office until he could clear his name

(Editors note the position of the Counsel house is note known for certain. However it was probably in the Church yard on the west side.)

20th February 1607 The Session voted and the conclusion was that Robert Mitchell was disposed of his Office. The reason given was because of his behaviour in public and the comments he had made about his trial concerning the matter about the silver which had been stolen.

10th April 1607 William Clapperton was appointed Kirk Officer by the whole Session. On the condition that the position was held at the pleasure of the Session and that the Session could remove him. That he executed all his duties faithfully on all points. That he will open the Kirk doors on time, he will attend to all cleaning of the desks and Kirk, will ring the bells on time, will keep the churchyard clean and stop any cattle or sheep grazing, will wait upon the Reader and execute all offices and commissions of the Session.

(Editors note-The position of Reader originated from the time of the Reformation. Many Priests and monks entered the reformed church as there was a shortage of ministers. They would take prayers and readings however it was only the minister who would undertake the sermon. So in a normal service the Reader would start the service with prayers and reading and once that was done the minister would then enter the pulpit.)

24th April 1607 George Logan of Bonnington appeared before the Session for misbehaving in the Kirk the previous Sunday. In that he violently laid hands on Adam Thomson (Maltman) to pull him out of his seat which was in the Tailors Loft. He was censored by the Session however it was pointed that he wasn’t a member of the Kirk and it was decreed that that he should confess his fault and to pay a fine to the Session for the poor. He obeyed the Session by confessing his fault in the Kirk the following before the seat between the first and second bell and paid a ten pound Scots fine and promised in future to behave better.

(Editors Note-The Logans of Bonnington were a branch of the Logan Family of Restalrig. They had owned Bonnington Mills since 1128. Bonnington House was removed at the end of the 19th century when part of Graham Street was built)

26th September 1607 It was ordered by the Session that the Bellman should not anticipate the hour appointed by the Session in ringing the bell for the evening prayers nor the appointed for any burials whatsoever. However he got licence to ring the bell for during the afternoon for funerals if the friends of the deceased requested it.

27th November 1607 Robert Dunlop a teacher from the school in Restalrig was rebuked by the Session for reading the prayers for a month in there aisle during the Sabbath days without lawful calling and was discharged not to do it again.

26th February 1608 The Session requested Mr William Strang their Reader to teach upon some part of the Scriptures for the Instruction and edification of the people every Sabbath day in the morning. Which Mr William obeyed after receiving licence from the Presbytery the following Tuesday which was the first day of March.

21st August 1608 On this day John Lord Maxwell and Charles Maxwell of Kirkehouse were publicly cited from the pulpit to show their repentance for their traitorous murder of Sir James Johnstone of Dunskellie, knight. This to be announced in the east Kirk of Edinburgh with certification.

(Editors note-This murder is well known in Border history)

25th September 1608 On this day communion was celebrated

(Editors note-This is the first mention of the Sacrament in the Records.)

2nd October 1608 Public intimation was of the excommunication of William Earl of Angus for being a Roman Catholic and of William Steward for the murder of James Douglas Lord Carlyle according the order of the Presbytery September 27th 1608.

(Editors note-William Stewart murdered Lord Carlyle as he was walking along the High Street of Edinburgh, his tomb may still be seen in the nave of Holyrood Abbey. The sentence of excommunication in the Presbyterian tradition may seem a bit odd and it was a throw back from time prior to the Reformation. However it was an important weapon in the Churches arsenal because an excommunicated person could not be married, buried or their children baptised and where excluded from all the sacraments of the Church. They were considered a rebel and could be shot on sight. Needless to say they couldn’t work or stay in Scotland and it amounted to a sentence of death. The act of excommunication was only used in very rare and exceptional conditions.)

30th October 1608 Public Intimation was made in the Kirk after the Sermon before noon. That John Lord Maxwell and Charles Maxwell of Kirkehouse had been excommunicated in the East Kirk of Edinburgh on the 23rd of October after being warned for sixty days to show their repentance for the murder of Sir James Johnstone of Dunskellie Knight which they have not done.

(Editors note-The East Kirk of Edinburgh was Trinity College Church which stood on the site of where the number Platform one is now in Waverly Station. The Church being demolished in the 1848 to make way for the railway and part of it can now be seen in Chalmers Close of the High Street in Edinburgh.)

6th November 1608 Public Intimation was made in the Kirk that Francis Earl of Errol was excommunicated for being a Roman Catholic.

(Editors note-Although the Reformation was completed in Scotland in 1560 many people in Scotland and in fact in England were Roman Catholic. With many people putting on an outward show of being protestant and so avoiding many of the harsh laws then in force against Roman Catholicism. These laws were abolished in the 1840’s when Roman Catholic’s gained their Civil rights. However many of these laws were imposed because of the fear that Catholic Europe mainly France and Spain would invade this country. Remember the Spanish Armada had only take place twenty years earlier. It wasn’t only a question of religion but of politics as well.)

1st January 1609 In the Kirk Patrick Meine, John Meine, Bartholomew Meine and William Meine confessed before the whole congregation to troubling the Town under the silence of the night between nine and eleven o’clock about a year previous. In the shedding of the blood especially of Robert Oroke son to Captain David Oroke. They begged for god’s mercy for their fault and asked Robert Oroke and his father Captain David Oroke to forgive them, also the congregation for offending them by their behaviour. Robert Oroke and his father accepted their apologises and Patrick Meine and his sons agreed to keep the peace in future.

13th January 1609 It was agreed that all the documents of the Session and the Kirk of Leith as well as documents of investments and obligations shall all be put into a box along with a inventory of the documents. This box would have four keys one being held by each of the callings of Leith. The box itself was held by Mt John Murray and the Session who will maintain the record of the documents held.

(Editors note- Mr John Murray was minister of the second charge. The position came about due to the absences of the first David Lindsay the first Protestant minister of South Leith because of his work at court. This position was abolished under the South leith Acts of 1873. The position having been created in 1593.
The four calling were the four Incorporations of Leith that is the Mariners, Merchants, maltmen, and crafts Incorporation was the Scots form of a Trade Guild. )

The Session ordered George Logan, John Gilchrist, David Hamilton and Henry Walker to speak to Mr William Murray (Minister of South Leith Church) who was being held in the Castle of Edinburgh about why he was being held and to report back to the Session.

(Editors Note- Mr Murray was imprisoned in Edinburgh Castle for about a year for his opposition to Episcopacy. He was later released on condition that he should “preach not and go not to Leith.”

By an act of Parliament of 1606 Bishops were reintroduced into the Church of Scotland and Mr Murray bluntly stated his opposition to this and was imprisoned. He was removed to New Abbey and was confined to a radius of four miles. The first Episcopate ended with the signing of the National Covenant in 1637 however the second Episcopate happened after the restoration of Charles 11 in 1660 with the passing of the “Corporation Act” obliging all officials to renounce the “National Covenant” and to take the Sacraments according to the form of the Church of England. Moreover by an Act of Uniformity of 1662 allowing no minister to hold a church unless he was ordained by a Bishop and would accept the prayer book. Many left the Church to become Dissenters which led to the “Conventicle Act of 1664 which tried to prevent them from meeting and the “five mile Act” which prevented ministers from preaching within five miles of a town. It was because of these acts John Bunyan was imprisoned in Bedford Jail. In Scotland the Covenanters were mercilessly hunted down and when caught either executed or transported to the American Colonies. The Martyrs monument can be seen in Grayfriars Churchyard in Edinburgh. This was ended in 1687 by King James 11 by the issuing of two proclamations of Indulgence, the first decreed that Presbyterians could worship in private houses and suspended the laws against Roman Catholics and the second suspended the laws against non conformity except those against the covenanters which remained in force. Episcopacy at South Leith ended in 1693.)

20th January 1609 It was reported by John Gilchrist and the rest that were sent to speak to Mr John Murray that he was content with what was agreed at the last Session meeting concerning the security of the Kirk Documents and Mr Murray gave his vote to Abraham Wauchope to be the Keeper of the box. Likewise it was agreed that for the Masters and Mariners Gilbert Lamb, for the Maltmen John Matheson, for the Merchants John Gilchrist and for the crafts David Hamilton.

20th January 1609 Samuel Kerr appeared before the Session, he was a married man above thirty years of age and when he was sworn in to tell the truth. Explained that he knew John Spense who was husband to Marion Richardson and that he had died about three years earlier on a voyage from Dieppe to Pizza on Captain Robert Mitchell’s ship registered at Dieppe. Also that his chest and clothes where returned to Marion Richardson, when the ship returned to Leith, and that she was a honest woman with whom he lodged. The Session granted Licence for Marion Richardson to be married to Robert Morrison and they were proclaimed thrice in the church. The statement of Samuel Kerr mariner cleared up any uncertainty concerning the death of her previous husband.

(Editors note- Under Scots law if a person disappears or if nobody knows what has happened to the person a presumption of death is normally made after seven years unless evidence comes to hand that a person had died as happened in the case above. After the plague of 1645 women had to wait over nine months before remarrying in case they were expecting.)

14th July 1609 Received from William Sinclair £1 13s 4d for repairing and from Thomas Harley £4 4s. Visitors for the next day David Jameson Younger and William Bicharton for the repairing William Gibson.

(Editors note- All the money is Scots pounds. So £1 13s 4d was worth about 2/9 in pre decimal money and 14p today. £4 4s Scots was worth 7/- in pre decimal money or 35 pence. The visitors collected money for the poor and the fabric of the Church.)

The same day the Timber men gave his bill to the Session to pay for the repairing of their aisle costing £11. The Session paid them £6 for the present upon the condition that they would repair the aisle in the future on the condition that nothing was changed. They were then given £6.

Abraham Wauchope was instructed to obtain two or three copies of the Act of Parliament erecting the Parish of South Leith and the Parsonage of Restalrig annexed to it.

(Editors note-The was the act of parliament of the 24th June 1609)

21st July 1609 Mr David Lindsay the Younger protested before the Session that his appointed to South Leith should in no way be prejudicial Mr John Murray in his place or stipend in the hope that he will return, when it pleases God and the Kings Majesty, to serve God in his ministry at this Kirk.

(Editors note-See note for the 13th January 1608)

On the same day three people were appointed to receive Mr David Lindsay on behalf of the whole Session on his admission as Pastor and Minister of South Leith Parish Church on the day of his admission which God willing would be on the 30th day of July.

(Editors note- It can be inferred that David Lindsay secundus was the son of David Lindsay the first Protestant minister of South Leith and Bishop of Ross.
David Lindsay secundus was educated at St Andrew’s and served at Forfar and the second Charge at St Andrew’s, and at St Olave in Southwark before returning to Forgan, and then to Leith in 1609. David Lindsay served in the first Charge from 1613 to 1627)

30th July 1609 On this day David Lindsay the younger who had served at St Andrew’s and at Forgan was admitted to be minister at the South Kirk of Leith by Mr James Law, Bishop of Orkney, (who was directed by the Commissioners of the General Assembly to that position). Mr David Lindsay accepted and was received by a number of Elders who had been nominated by the Session. (This was written by me Mr William Stang Reader and Clerk to the Session on the first day of November in the of our Lord 1606. (The date is clearly wrong and must have been meant to be 1609)

4th August 1609 The Session orders that Workmen of the town are to be examined every Sabbath day at four o’clock in the afternoon during the Winter and at five o’clock in the afternoon during the Summer and everyone who is absent is to pay five shillings (Scots).

The Session also orders that the last bell before the preaching on the Sabbath was to be rung at nine o’clock during the Summer at nine thirty during the Winter ant for the afternoon service at one thirty.

The Session also decided that marriage and Baptisms to be celebrated on Tuesdays after the sermon and baptisms on the Sabbath day to be ministered after the ending of the afternoon sermon

It was also decided that a communion service was to be celebrated every year first in February/March and thereafter in August. Furthermore Catechising was to be done weekly on Wednesday and Thursday at night including the Sabbath days catechising.

(Editors note-The Catechism is a set instruction in the Christian faith and was done by Question and answer originally and then later in a written text. However at this time very few people could read or write)

11th August 1609 The Baillie at the request of the Session has granted that uncouth beggars that come to Leith on a Sabbath day are to be put in prison until six o’clock at night.

(Editors night-This was done due to the large numbers of beggars coming into the town from outside. The Church simply didn’t have the funds to help everyone and so this had to be discouraged.)

27th August 1609 On this day the Lords Supper was ministered and penitents were received, John Davie, Margaret Watson, Marion Watson and Robert Park.

10th September 1609 This was the second day which the Lords Supper was ministered and the following penitents were received namely, Matthew Sluman, Margaret Souter, James Lesley, and Margaret Ree.

22nd September 1609 For the better observation of the weekly Catechising the Session orders that the whole town shall be examined and that everyone should present themselves to be examined. Furthermore every three months there shall be several weeks of catechising on the Sabbath day, Wednesday and Thursday at night. At such times the Fathers and Mothers of the families shall present their Households. Every mother or father who is absent after being warned shall pay three shillings and four pence and the servant two Shillings.

8th October 1609 Intimation was made by the minister from the pulpit. That any person in the congregation who play games in public on the Sabbath shall pay twenty shillings and the were to make a public repentance before the pulpit on the following Sabbath before noon.

10th November 1609 Robert Galbraith (Parishioner) of Kirkcaldy and Magdalene de Plancas were ordered by the Session to lodge Pledges and Robert Galbraith to get a testimonial of his mothers consent to their marriage. The following were contacted privately in the house before the minister Mt David Lindsay namely John Bellendene, Patrick Scott, George Thomson, William Bickarstone, and myself Mr William Strang Reader and Clerk to the Session. The paid £6 to the poor and I delivered it to the minister before the aforementioned persons.

(Editors note-The Bellenden family were wealthy owning Hillhousefield house which unfortunately was removed at the end of the nineteenth century. The House stood near to Bonnington Road and Easter Road In Leith.)

Thomas Miller and Elspeth Coke……… The Session orders that unless he learns the commands then a fine of 40s will be imposed.

(Editors note- The commands are the Ten Commandments and Thomas Miller and Elspeth Coke were contracted to be married. If people didn’t know the Ten Commandments, The lords Prayer or even the Doctrines of the Church then they couldn’t take communion and people were examined before every communion. If they were in dispute with anyone then the dispute would have to be settled before they could communicate.)

17th November 1609 This day Abraham Wauchope produced the box wherein were the writs belonging to the Session and the Kirk of Leith and delivered it to George Lamb on the vote of the Session who had been voted in for the following year. The Session then named the Key holders of the said box as John Matheson, James Liddell, Frances Wade and Hew Lyall and a key was delivered to each of them. On the same day Abraham Wauchope delivered the Kirk Obligations to Gilbert lamb before the Session who were the principal debtors of the Church. The first was Robert Morton for five hundred merks payable at Whitsunday, The second was the Guidman of Cotfield for six hundred merks payable at Whitsunday, the third was for one thousand pounds owing by George Thomson payable at Whitsunday, the fourth owing James Nisbit and George Wauchope for five hundred marks, the fifth owing by Alexander Matheson and the sixth owing by David Weymen for one thousand Merks.

(Editors note-The Guideman was a part of what was called the feudal system. Technically the King owed all the land and he would parcel it out to all his great lords and supporters and these lords would parcel it out to lesser lords and so on. So society looked like a pyramid with the king at the top and the peasants at the bottom. However if a lord gave land to his brother then the brother would become Guidman. This is the first statement of accounts known for South Leith Parish Church)

8th December 1609 William Porteous and Margaret Ramsay ordered the man to get the consent of his father and for the woman of her mother and to pay one pound before they are proclaimed.

(Editors note-Proclaimed meant the calling of Banns on three consecutive Sundays before the Marriage could take place.)

The Session orders that anyone who goes to any pastime when they should be present at a Session Meeting to pay a fine of forty pennies

22nd December 1909 The Baillie James Forman promises to the Session that there shall be no boats passing over the Forth on any Sabbath day from now on. If any boat does sail then a charge of four merks will be made.

Jan 12th 1610 Robert Thomson of Prestonpans and Helen Carrike of this Parish. The Session Orders that the man to get his mothers consent and for the both of them to learn the commands perfectly.

16th February 1610 On this day all the Elders who were Maltmen promised that any of their servants who had worked in Leith would have all the burial expenses paid. Providing that the other Incorporations done the same.

On the same day it was agreed by the whole Session that there shall be no Public playing of valley Bowles at the Penny Stane, Archery, and Golf etc on Sabbath days in the Yard or in the Fields. Anyone found doing this to be fined twenty shillings for the poor and they shall make public repentance before the pulpit. Therefore Marion Mowbray was instructed by the Session not to allow any to play in her Yard on any Sabbath day from morning to evening under the same fine.

(Editors note- This is the first mention of Golf in the Session Records. However it is known that James IV played Golf on Leith Links. It should be noted that the rules of Golf were formulated on Leith Links in 1744 and in point of fact St Andrews got the rules of Golf from Leith which is the true home of the game.)

9th April 1610 The Session finding the Grammar School and Readers places vacant requests the minister with all possible diligence to find someone to fill the vacancies. Mr Thomas Barclay will also write to Aberdeen to a man who can read and teach music.

(Editors note- The Church from the very earliest days of its existence had a Grammar School and a Sang (Song School). By the 19th century these school became Leith Academy. This makes Leith Academy one of the earliest continuous Schools in Scotland.

6th May 1610 Mr Thomas Barclay is requested to send his servant to Aberdeen for a man to be reader and Music Teacher and the Session allows him twelve pounds for his expense. At the same time the minister was to find a master.

(Editors note -The Grammar School was taught by a Master and the Vulgar or Music School was taught by the Reader or Session Clerk.)

1st June 1610 There is a note made by the Session to speak to the Bailies to stop abusing and taxing the people more then once a year

8th June 1610 The Baillie has promised to take such action with his Officers that they shall not bother the Town more then once a year.

(Editors note -These two entries for the 1st and 8th June refers to taxing of the people of Leith. However Edinburgh who Leith came under being a Royal Burgh were for ever trying to impose new taxes which led to abuse and this was what the Session was complaining about.)

7th December 1610 This day appeared James Robertson, John Lentrek, John Hutton and Alexander Stirk who confessed that they had profaned the Sabbath by playing Golf during the time of Preaching and it was ordered that they make their Public repentance the following Sabbath.

29th June 1611 Mr Jerome Lindsay has promised to present Robert Blunt servant to the Bishop of Glasgow on the 5th July

(Editors note – Jerome Lindsay who was later knighted was the son of David Lindsay and played an important part in the history of the Church.)

5th July 1611 The Session orders the Bishop of Glasgow to present his servant otherwise to be accused before the Presbytery of Edinburgh.

12th July 1611 Robert Blunt called and didn’t appear before the Session. Mr Jerome Lindsay has taken it upon himself to ensure that he appears the following Session.

19th July 1611 Robert Blunt called to appear before the Session doesn’t as it is found that he is riding to London

2nd August 1611 The Session orders that all the tavern keepers be warned again today after eight days along with John Younger and especially Sara Robertson and Ninian Brown in whose house they were found drinking.
The Session also warned them to stay away from the communion and to pay a fine of twenty shillings and to make a public repentance.

9th August 1611 The Baillie promised to poind all the tavern keepers that did not turn up at the Session meeting but to be warned.

(editor’s note- poinding is a form of Scottish legal diligence in which goods and chattels could be sold at a public Roup or Sale to pay a fine or debt)

23rd August 1611 On this day Andrew Christie who lived in Leith and to satisfy part of a decree pronounced against him by our Sovereign Lords most honourable Privy Council. Appeared before the Pulpit after the sermon before noon and in the presence of the whole congregation confessed on his knees his sin committed against God and the offence done to John Rule his neighbour in Leith by putting violent hands upon him in the month of July Last. He craved God’s mercy in the name of his son Jesus Christ and for John to remit the offence done to him and for the whole congregation to pray for him. That it would never happen again and for John to forgo any revenge and forgave the injury done to him by Andrew Christie. and as a token they shook hands.

24th January 1612 The Session orders that all the poor young boys in the Town should be visited and put into the local schools.

31st January 1612 The Session orders those to be warned about the poor Children to check to see if the parents can be found or not.

15th May 1612 Elspet Steward appeared and is ordered to go to Elspet Lindsay’s stair where she offended her. Where she was to sit down upon her knees and ask her for forgiveness and is ordered to remove herself out of town between today and Whitsun next and is committed into the hands of the magistrate to see all these things are done.

22nd May 1613 The Session orders the Shoemakers to be warned to appear before them in eight days

3rd May 1613 The Session orders that if the Shoemakers does not satisfy them then their Desk would be taken from them

24th July 1612 The Session upon the honest request of the Guidman of Coatfield for a burial place for his wife was granted his request. This was to include a Tomb which could hold four interments and was to be situated near to the Kirk wall. However it was to be for his family only in all time coming and for a sum of money to the poor.

(Editors note-The Guidman of Coatfield at this time was Andrew Logan and this family was a branch of the Logans of Restalrig. The family had held the property since 1470 when Patrick Logan was granted the property and became Baillie of Leith.
In the North East Porch of South Leith Church can be seen the Tombstone of Sir Andrew Logan of Coatfield dated 1584, the Logan’s of Coatfield lived at Coatfield lodgings which stood beside the Church in what is now Cotefield lane the house itself was removed many years ago.)

18th September 1612 David Gordon appeared before the Session and when asked if he was not in the Kirk on the Sabbath said that he was and the Session considered this to be true admonished him. However if they found out it wasn’t true then he would be censored.

25th September 1612 John Thomson appeared before the Session and it was inquired of him why he hadn’t attended communion. He replied that he wouldn’t until those who had offended him had made amends and that nothing would compel him to do so and it was an evil law and contrary to common justice to compel men to communicate when there was a deadly feud

Afterwards Hendry Nicol said that he would not communicate because he did not recognise the Session of Leith. The Session replied that they did not wish such a person to dwell in Leith. He was advised to return in eight days time but it was up to him and his good will.

2nd October 1612 Hendry Nicol appeared before the Session and agreed to be a diligent hearer of the word and to receive the sacrament with the rest of the congregation and would live peacefully with his wife and he would obey the session and accept censure.

30th October 1612 The Session ordered the examinations to begin in the Tolbooth at Martinmas and to continue until the communion and anyone who disobeys and doesn’t appear is to be find two shillings for the first fault and thereafter as the Sessions wills

(Editors note- The Tolbooth was built on the orders of Mary, Queen of Scots and removed in 1817. Today it is remembered in the name of Tolbooth Wynd a street connecting Charlotte Street with the Shore. After 1817 a new Tolbooth was built which was used for various purposes including that of a public library.
The examinations were carried out on all persons who wished to receive communion and took the form of a series of questions such as “do you know the Lords Prayer? Do you know the Ten Commandments? Do you understand the doctrines of the Church? Are you in dispute with anyone? And so on)

15th January 1613 The Session requests that Bailie David Alshoner try’s to find out what action the Council of Edinburgh will be taking against John Shot who tried to commit suicide.

22nd January 1613 The Session orders that all the callings and others within the congregation who have seats or lofts within the Church shall attend during the week as they do on a Sabbath and the ministers are to intimate this from the Pulpit.

(Editors note-The lofts were galleries within the Church and the seats were box pews with doors. These could only be obtained by a licence fro the Kirk Session. In fact at one time South Leith had four galleries the North and South galleries being removed in 1848. However the impression given in this entry is that there may have been more individual galleries at one time. The Callings are the Trade Incorporations or Trade Guilds of Leith.)

5th February 1613 John Dallinge appeared before the Session and Magistrate accused of allowing a vagabond and a forbidding person to stay in his house and should this happen again then he was to be banished from the town for ever.

The Session orders Nichol Archibald and his wife to present their testimonials to the Session to show that they are of good character. Nor are they to allow any sturdy beggar to stay in their house and also not to bother Robert Rull under the threat of public repentance and banishment.

(Editors note-This entry may seem a bit extreme to a person living today. However the problem was Leith was attracting substantial numbers of beggars from outside the town and the town and Church just did not have the means to support them and it was a continuous struggle to help the local poor without taking on more.)

25th March 1613 William Stewart appeared before the Session and promised to attend communion and would be a diligent hearer of the word and attend all examinations.

The Session requests George Smellome and Alexander Hamilton and the ministers to meet with John Thomson and James Douglas to see if they will attend Communion and if not to take protestations and if they refuse that further action would be taken.

(Editors note- There is a suspicion in the above entry that the refusal to attend Communion was because John Thomson and James Douglas were in fact Roman Catholic. Scotland although on the surface was a Reformed country many people still held strongly to their Roman Catholic beliefs. However many who were Roman Catholic, in order to work and live, pretended to be Protestant as the laws against Roman Catholics at this time were extremely harsh and cruel.)

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