The History of Leith

May 26, 2004

Leith and a Strange Dream

The author Chambers relates in his book “Book of Days” a curious story which happened in Leith in 1731. The story comes from Lady Clerk of Penicuik (nee Mary Dacre of Kirkliston in Cumberland) who told it to the Blackwood’s Magazine in 1826.

In 1731 Lady Clark’s father was attending classes in Edinburgh and was living with his uncle Major Griffiths whose regiment was stationed at Edinburgh Castle. Then one day the young man agreed to go on a fishing trip from Leith harbour the following day with some friends and no objections being made the arrangements where settled.

That night Mrs Griffiths went to bed and in her sleep suddenly screamed “The boat is sinking-Oh, save them” The Major woke her up and asked her if she felt uneasy about the fishing party and she said, no. after she had been sleeping for about a hour she suddenly screamed again in a deadly fright “I see the boat-it is going down”. The Major woke her up again and suggested that the second dream was caused by the first. They went to sleep again and again she screamed in agony “They are gone-the boat is sunk, then she added that Mr Dacre must not go”. The following day Mrs Griffith persuaded her Nephew not to go and a letter of apology was sent to his friends in Leith. It turns out that their boat was caught in a storm on the Forth and sank there was no survivors.

According to Chambers unlike many stories of this type this one can be traced to actual events which he quotes from the Caledonian Mercury of 1734 the old lady making a mistake about the year.

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