The History of Leith

November 1, 2007

Part of the Charter of Confirmation and Precept of Clare- in favour of Wm.Giles Brewer in Leith.Part 1

“To all and Sundry to whose knowledge these presents shall come we the Reverend Dr Robert Dickson and Mr Thomas McKnight Ministers of the Gospel in South leith and also the Elders Deacons and remnant members of the Kirk Session of South Leith Preceptors of the Preceptory of St Anthon’s in Leith Superiors of the tenement and others underwritten know ye that we have ratify approve and for us and our successors in office perpetually confirm to and in favour of William Giles Brewer in Leith eldest son and nearest and lawful heir of the deceased John Giles Brewer in Leith his father a disposition dated the 10th day of June one thousand seven hundred and sixty three years duly ratified the same day made and granted by Robert Anderson sometime Brewer in Leith thereafter merchant in Edinburgh second lawful son of the deceased Patrick Anderson merchant in Leith and sometime Deacon of the Coopers there with the special advice and consent of Grizel Callender his spouse for all right of liferent or other right or title whatever she had or could claim to the lands

The area of the map on the top right hand corner is the area mentioned i this document. On the left hand side is the foot of Leith walk and on the rhs can be seen part of the Churchyard of South Leith Church (or the Churchyard of St Anthon’s as mentioned inthe document). This map is dated 1852.

aftermentioned whereby for the causes therein specified he with consent forsaid sold, annualized and disponed to and in favour of David Loch Merchant in Leith his heirs or assignees whatsoever heritably an irredeemably all and hail that tenement of land or building and new houses built thereon back and fore under and above with the brew house buildings yard close well and haill pertinents of the same sometime possessed by Wiliam spense Schoolmaster thereafter by William noble vintner and thereafter by James Gib Maltman of Leith lying in the village of Leith upon the South side of the water of the same within the Barony of Restalrig territory of St Anthon’s and Sheriffdom of Edinburgh betwixt the lands some time pertaining to Stephan Barry thereafter to John Ramsay john Main and John Spence and now to ……….on the east the houses sometime of Arthur Tutope thereafter pertaining to the heirs of the deceased John Balantyne Maltman and the wynd leading from the said village to the Church of St Anthon’s upon the west the church yard of St Anthon’s and the lands of the deceased David Jamieson now pertaining to……….on the south and the common vennel or lands of the deceased Florence Balfour thereafter of the said deceased David Jamieson and now of ……….on the north parts on the one side and other and sicklike all an haill that dwelling house back and fore high and laigh under and above with the pertinents sometime occupied and possessed by the deceased Arthur Tutope and his spouse thereafter by Wiliam Pyrie with the Brew house or Brewery sometime occupied and possessed by the deceased John Goodall together with the piece of yard lying at the back thereof containing thirteen ells in length towards the west and seven ells in breadth towards the said deceased Arthur Tutope his dwelling house as the same was mete and measured lying contiguous within the Town of leith upon the south side of the water thereof within the Barony of Restalrig territory of St Anthon’s and Sheriffdom of Edinburgh foresaid sometime pertaining to the deceased Harry Walker Maltman and indweller in leith and thereafter disponed by him to the said deceased Arthur Tutope and his spouse and thereafter to john Barlans elder his spouse and John Barlans younger their son bounded betwixt the said deceased Barry his other tenement of land upon the east the vennel leading from the town of leith to the said Kirk of St Anthon’s upon the west the rest of the said deceased Barry his yard upon the south and the vennel and lands sometime pertaining to the deceased Florence Balfour thereafter to David Jamieson upon the north parts on the one side and other, and sicklike all and haill that piece of ground whereupon the steep stone sometimes possessed by Dionysius Thomson stands with the ground and tofall adjacent thereto on the East part of the old door which of old was an entry to the said tofall bounded betwixt the tofall and tenement sometimes pertaining to the deceased John Balantyne Maltman of Leith thereafter to William Legat writer in Edinburgh on the East the Brewerie and close … belonging to the said William Giles the tenement and pertinents belong to the heirs of the said William Younger not being included

The document repeats itself and is signed in 1794 John Patison, Alexander Lindsay Session Clerk of South Leith Robert Dickson minr, Thomas McKnight minr, John Hadaway, James Young Elder Patrick Hadaway Elder James Wright Elder John Hutton and Dionysius Thomson Elder William Grinly Deacon Alexander Lindsay Witness John Patison Witness

Please note Robert Dickson was minister of South Leith Church 1790-1824 and is buried in the Churchyard at South Leith his portrait hangs in the ministers vestry at the church.

John Hadaway owned extensive property in Leith and it was on his land Hunction Road Church was built.

Thomas McKnight was minister of the Second Charge 1790-1804

William Younger-Tradition has it that William Younger I, aged 16, set up a brewery in Kirkgate, Leith, Scotland, in 1749. In 1853 he married Grizel Syme and became an exciseman, leaving the brewery to be run by Grizel. However, this account is flawed and inaccurate and cannot be substantiated. Grizel actually ran her deceased second husband’s brewery and it was this brewery and those of her sons that developed into the firm of William Younger & Co.

After William Younger I, Grizel Syme’s first husband, had died in 1770, Grizel married Robert Anderson, a Leith brewer, in 1772, who had been brewing since at least 1758. He took one of her sons, Archibald Campbell Younger as an apprentice, and probably also trained her other sons Richard and William II. Alexander Anderson died in 1781 and Grizel took over the brewery, trading as Grizel Anderson, assisted by William II, until she retired in 1794.

Archibald Campbell Younger set up on his own business in 1777, establishing a brewery in the grounds of Holyrood Abbey, Edinburgh, Scotland, and acquired a new brewery, Croft-an-Righ Brewery, Holyrood, in 1786. He opened a new larger brewery in the North Back of Canongate (now Calton Road) in 1793. Richard was brewing at Gentle’s Close, Canongate in 1788, but by 1796 was in London, England.

William Younger II opened his own brewhouse within Holyrood Abbey precinct in 1796. William Younger II extended this brewery and acquired James Blair’s Abbey Brewhouse, Horse Wynd, Holyrood in 1803. (The company founding date of 1749 probably derives from James Blair’s Abbey Brewery.) In 1806 he commenced brewing porter with his brother, Archibald Campbell Younger, and in 1808 took his brother-in-law, Robert Hunter, into partnership under the name of Younger and Hunter. In 1818, after the death of Robert Hunter, he took Alexander Smith, Brewer and Superintendent of the brewery, into partnership, the firm to be called William Younger & Company.

In 1819 Archibald Campbell Younger died and his brewery was disposed of to George Hastie . William Younger II’s mother and brother-in-law died in 1821 and he was able to consolidate all the family interests under the title William Younger & Co. He expanded further into the Canongate and in 1836 Alexander Smith, brewer, and his son, Andrew, and William Younger III became William II’s partners. By the 1840s the partnership was trading all over Scotland and exporting to North and South America, India and Australia. After the death of William Younger II and Alexander Smith in 1842 their sons carried on the business. William Younger IV joined the partnership in 1849 followed by his brother, Henry Johnston Younger, in 1852. The latter left the firm in 1855 but returned as a partner in 1861. William Younger III retired in 1851 (died 1854) leaving Andrew Smith to manage the business.

In 1858 Andrew Smith and William Younger IV purchased the adjacent premises of brewer Alexander Berwick, and built the Holyrood Brewery which ran between Canongate and its South Back (now Holyrood Road). The firm’s first London office opened in 1861. William Younger IV (died 1886) and Andrew Smith retired in 1869, leaving the day-to-day control to Henry J Younger, his brother David Younger (retired 1880) and Alexander Smith (died 1885), Andrew Smith’s son. Alexander Low Bruce (died 1893) became a partner in 1876. The breweries continued to expand and William Younger & Co Ltd was registered in August 1887 as a limited liability company to acquire the business, becoming a public company in 1889. By 1891 the company was producing 400,000 barrels of beer per year and by 1907 the brewery covered 27 acres and brewed a quarter of all the ale produced in Scotland.

In January 1931 the company merged with William McEwan & Co Ltd, Edinburgh, through Scottish Brewers Ltd. It acquired Collin Croft Brewery Co Ltd, Kendal, Cumbria, England, in 1933 and in 1946 employed 1,350 people. The Abbey Brewery closed in 1956 and the premises were remodelled to form the headquarters buildings of Scottish & Newcastle Breweries plc, with whom Scottish Brewers Ltd merged in 1960. The site is to be the new Scottish Parliament buildings. The Holyrood Brewery complex closed in 1986.

Richmond, Lesley and Turton, Alison (eds), The Brewing Industry. A Guide to Historical Records, (Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press, 1990).
Topen, Alma, unpublished draft of article on the history of William Younger & Co Ltd (Glasgow, 2002).

Some Text