The History of Leith

February 15, 2008

The Story of Meeting House Green Close

As the name suggests this Close wasn’t originally a Close but an open piece of ground at one time. The name comes about due to a meeting House being erected on this spot in 1688. It was here that the Presbyterian Congregation of South Leith met while the Church at South Leith was Episcopal. Strangely enough the meeting house got the name “John Knox’s Church”.

The records of South leith Church show that in 1692 “the magistrates of Edinburgh and members of the Presbytery there, with a confused company of the people entered the Church (ie South Leith Church) by breaking the locks of the doors and replaceing them with new ones and so caused guard the Church with Halberts, rang the bells and possessed Mr Wishart of the Church against which all irregular proceedings public protest were taken”

Soon after this the Session house was taken over by armed men and the Episcopalians were forced out of the church and the presbyterians took possession. Although the Episcopalians continued for a time in a tower in the Churchyard called the Kantore.

This was followed by a public meeting within the Church to hear any objections that might be made against the legal induction of the Rev Wiliam Wishart a adherent of Mr Kay who had been the Episcopal minisister protested . in response to this protest he was attacked by a Mr Livingston who was a brewer at Calton and the protester was assulted. All done in front of the Presbytery of Edinburgh who were present. The poor man was thrown in the old Tolbooth and this was for doing what the Presbytery had suggested.

Mr Kay formed a small Episcopal Concregation in the Yardheads and died there at his house in 1719 his successor was the famous Robert Forbes who by a strange turn of fate was buried at South Leith in 1775

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