The History of Leith

April 13, 2005

The Reoch Monument.(South Leith Parish Church)

(On the West Wall of South Aisle.)
The Monument which was erected to his memory is without doubt the handsomest in South Leith Church. It occupies the west side of the South Aisle of the church. The top of the memorial is arched to correspond with the general line of the roof.
The whole is in imitation decorated Gothic, and dated 1848. There is a large centre panel with the inscription, surmounted by a medallion of James Reoch and his crest, with the motto “Stand.”
On either side are niches with canopies each resting on cherubs.
The niche on the left of the memorial is filled by a figure of “Charity,” the canopy having the Latin inscription “Scitamini charitatem.”
The niche on the right is occupied by the figure of Justice, with the inscription “Facite justitiam” on the canopy above.
These inscriptions are in the form of decorative scrolls, and the canopies are surmounted by pinnacles, on the centre one of which rests the monogram “J. R.”
The inscription is as follows
James Reoch, Merchant, born 1757, died 1845, was Provost of Leith six years, Master of the Merchant Coy. 10 years, and for a long period a member of this Kirk Session. He took an active part in every undertaking for the benefit and improvement of the Town and Port. Judicious, energetic, and upright, he possessed public confidence to a high degree. Generous, considerate, single- minded, and accessible to all, he was esteemed as an affectionate and faithful friend.
Erected by his fellow-townsmen and others to express their respect for his character, and perpetuate the remembrance of his worth.
JAMES REOCH was born in Leith in November 1757. His father, of the same name, had come to the town from the Parish of Kirkmichael in Banfishire. He was apprenticed to Charles Cowan, merchant, in the year 1782. Shortly after the expiry of. this period of probation, he became a partner in the firm. in 1796 he married Isabella Cowan, the daughter of his employer. The Cowans of Penicuik, who founded the famous paper works, were his brothers-in-law. He had three sons and three daughters, of whom only two were alive when he died. Along with Sir Walter Scott, he had much to do in connection with the landing of George IV. at Leith. Like other Leith merchants, he had interests in many other concerns as well as in his own business. He was a director of the Edinburgh and Leith Shipping Company, of the Leith Gas Light Company, and of the National Bank. He was also one of the directors of the National Monument. He was the second Provost of Leith, and occupied that honourable position for two terms, 1839— 1845. When Sir John Gladstone of Fasque presented and endowed the Church of St. Thomas, along with the School and Asylum, he presided at the Dinner given to that well- known native of Leith. In that same year the Provost received a handsome present of silver plate from the people of Leith. He had the honour of receiving Queen Victoria and Prince Albert when they landed at Leith on their visit to Scotland in 1842. Not only did he discharge all the duties of the magistracy with dignity and fairmindedness, but he also took a continuous interest in all that concerned the poor, the widow, and the orphan. He died in his house in Hope Street, in November 1845, and was buried in South Leith Churchyard. Two of his granddaughters are still living in Inverleith and there are two great-grandsons, sons of the late James Reoch, banker.
South Leith Records 1922

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