The History of Leith

November 18, 2004

Leith Links, Edinburgh

Leith was the site of some of the first attacks and injuries in golf. The first of these was 1575 when golfers were attacked and fought back successfully. On a later occasion, in 1690, Sir Robert Sibbald was crossing the Links when a young boy who did not hear him approach, apparently hit him on the backswing with his club. Sir Robert required medical attention, but the name of the golfer is not mentioned, nor whether he carried any insurance.

As elsewhere, Edinburgh Burgh records of 1593 bemoan the fact that Edinburgh churchgoers were playing golf in Leith instead of going to church. On 16th February 1610, South Leith Kirk Session proposed a fine of 20 shillings (one pound) to be paid ‘to the poor’ by anyone found playing golf (or bowls or archery) between sunrise and sunset on Sunday. Apart from the fine, they would also have to confess their sins in church. This persecution continued until 1724, which year marks the last official Kirk prosecution in Scotland for Sunday golfing, when the Leith innkeeper John Dickson was accused of giving victuals to Sabbath golfers.

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