The History of Leith

April 28, 2004

The Gladstone’s of Leith

Within the Churchyard of Coburg St Leith can be seen the large alter stone of Thomas Gladstone and was the Grandfather of William Ewart Gladstone the famous Victorian Prime Minister.

The Gladstone’s says a local writer was of Clydesdale origin and were land owners there and on the Border. “Claiming descent from this ancient and not undistinguished stock Mr John Gladstone of Tolcombes near Biggar, in the upper Ward of Clydesdale had by his wife, Janet Aitken a son Thomas who became a prosperous Trader in Leith and who later married Helen Neilson of Springfield but died in 1809 and by this marriage he had a son John who became Sir John Gladstone and father of William Gladstone.

Sir John was born in Leith on the 11th December in the year 1764 and commenced business there at a very early age but soon went to Liverpool and for more the half a century was one of the most famous and successful Traders in the City..

The names of Thomas and Hugh Gladstone merchants in North Leith appear in the Directory of 1811 and the marriage of a daughter of Thomas is recorded to the Rev John Watson, Minister of the Relief Congregation at Dunse in 1799, is recorded in the Herald of that year.

In Peter Williamson’s Directory mention is made for 1786-67 of a “James Gladstone who was a Schoolmaster in North Leith and Thomas Gladstone who was a flour and barley merchant on the Coal Hill. His shop has been removed many years ago and was replaced by a Wool Yard and that in turn is now been replaced by a modern upmarket development. The Coal hill of yester year just simply does not exist now.

It should be noted that James was the uncle and Thomas the father of Sir John Gladstone of Fasque who built Sir Thomas’s Church and Almshouses near to where his family lived. St Thomas’s Church merged a few years ago with Junction Road Church and St Thomas’s is now used by the Sikh Community.

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