The History of Leith

April 15, 2005

The Lindsay Monument.(South Leith Parish Church)

(On Wall of South Aisle.)
The mural tablet, which is of chaste and simple design in white marble, contains the following inscription
“In affectionate remembrance of Captain James Lindsay, Shipowner, a native of Leith, who died 26th March 1839, aged 53, and of Helen Allen, his wife, a native of Alloa, who died 10th April 1849, aged 63, both interred in this Churchyard.
Erected by Their son, William Lindsay,Esq., F.R.SE., Hermitage Hill, Leith, 1875. Also the said William Lindsay, Ex Provost of Leith, who died 20th February 1884, aged 64. So He bringeth them unto the haven where they would be.’
Pr, cvii. 30.’
WILLIAM LINDSAY was born in Leith. 11 first saw the light in Coburg Street, in 1819. His father was a shipmaster. Articled to the legal firm of Simson in Bernard Street, and serving for a time in an Edinburgh office, he started business for himself as a solicitor in Leith. He gradually gained an interest in shipping, and during the Crimean War he had to do with the sending of steam transports to the Black Sea for the use of the French. In 1864 he ceased to practise as a lawyer, but continued his interest in shipping and general commercial business. Like so many Leith merchants of public spirit, he entered the Town Council, and on the retiral of Mr Taylor he was elected Provost of the Burgh in 1860. He was in office for six years. He had to do with the laying of the foundation of the Corn Exchange, and he took a prominent part in the meeting which Lord Palmerston addressed in that building. He was associated with Sir William Miller of Manderston and others in the successful attempt which was- made to get the Government of the day to accept a cash payment in discharge of the large debt which encumbered the Leith Docks. Lindsay Road, in North Leith, is called after him because of a distinct improvement he caused to be made in the road at Leith Fort in the neighbourhood. He acquired more than local fame, however, in connection with an improvement which he succeeded in carrying out on the General Police Act of 1850. This he was able to do because his practical experience happily combined with his legal acquirements. So the General Police and Improvement Act (Scotland) was passed in 1869, and became known over the country by the name of its framer. The Lindsay Act, because of changes in sanitary science and the growth of population, itself needed amendment in the course of years. Accordingly Mr Lindsay, with other coadjutors in the Convention of Royal Burghs, and the Town Clerk of Leith, arranged for the General Police Amendment Act to be prepared; and eventually after his death it was passed into law under the guidance of the Lord Advocate of 1892.
He continued his interest, in a quiet way, in local affairs alter his retiral from the Town Council, devoting himself to local charities and public boards. He was an elder in South Leith Parish Church, and for many years attended the General Assembly as Representative elder for Lochmaben. lie was a widower at the the of his death, and left two Sons and two daughters. One of the daughters was married to Mr J. Carlow, who did so much to develop the Fife Coal Company, which did so much to enrich not a few Leith people. Mr Lindsay passed away in February 1884. A large oil painting of him occupies a place in the old Leith Council Chamber. There is also a bust of him in white Carrara marble in the Town Hall.
Source-South Leith Records

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