The History of Leith

April 4, 2006

Is This How the Leith Coat of Arms came to Leith? Another theory

It is noticeable in the records of these times in the records of these times many ships which met evil fortune in crossing the North Sea were not Scottish but Flemish. That was the natural result of King Alexander’s edict forbidding Scottish ships to engage in oversea trade. Foreign merchants seemed to find this trade quite profitable in spite of its many risks, and now, as an old Scots chronicler tells us, “many ships laden with all manner of merchandise would come to the country in those days and barter all their merchandise, goods for goods.” These merchants were mostly Flemings—that is, men of Flanders, of whom many had in previous years settled on our coasts Many Flemings also settled in Edinburgh, where a protest was made against their having the same privileges of trade as the native burgesses. Here, as elsewhere, they kept in close touch with their kinsmen in Flanders, and thus gave a great impetus to our local trade with the Low Countries, ship after ship sailing from Leith to Bruges and other ports with large exports of wool and hides for the cloth and leather manufacturers, to return laden with a varied assortment of goods for the stocking of the merchants’ booths of those early days of Leith’s commerce.
Source-The Story of Leith-John Russell (1922)

(note-King Alexander mentioned is King Alexander III 1249-1286)

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