The History of Leith

June 5, 2006

Cock-Fighting on Leith Links

On the 25th July 1559 when Mary of Guise took control of Edinburgh the Lords of the Congregation met on the Links to draw up their demands on the Queen Regent and where much of the action of the Siege of Leith took place the following year.

It was on the Links where the people of Leith when excluded by the Cromwellian Authorities from the local churches. So we here in 1655 a request being made that a port (gate) near to the links to remain open for people going to the services from 7am to 2pm.

It was here in 1702 that saw Cock fighting on the Links and a Cock pit was in full operation after being introduced into Scotland from England. This caused some objections from the Council because of the Cruelty involved. However a Mr Machrie who was a teacher of fencing and cocking said-

“I am not ashamed to declare to the world that I have a special veneration of the gentlemen without and about this city who have entered in society for propagating and establishing the royal recreation of cocking in order to which they have already erected a cock-pit in the Links of Leith and I earnestly wish that their generous an laudable example may be imitated in that degree that in cock war, village may be engaged against village, city against city, Kingdom against Kingdom-nay father against son-until all wars in Europe where so much Christian blood is spilt, may be turned into a innocent pastime of cocking”

This barbarous amusement was long a fancy of Scottish people and the slain birds became the right of the village schoolmaster

From (in part)-Old and New Edinburgh

Some Text