The History of Leith

October 18, 2010

Drury’s Peace

In 1559 the then secluded village of Restalrig was the scene of one of the many skirmishes that took place between the troops of the Queen Regent and those of the lords of the Congregation, in which the latter were baffled, ” driven through the myre at Restalrig—worried at the Craigingate ” (ie., the Calton), and on the 6th of November,’ ” at even in the nycht,” they departed ” furth of Edinburgh to Lynlithgow, aid left their artailzerie on the calsay lyand, and the town desolate.” In the following year, Holinshed records that ” the Lord Grey, Lieutenant of the Inglis*armie,” during ihe siege of Leith, “Judged in the town of Lestalrike, in the Dean’s house, and part of the Demi-lances and other horsemen lay in the same towne.”

A little way north-westward of Restahig, midway between the place named Hawkhill and the upper Quarry Holes, near the Easter Road, there occurred on the 16th of June, 1571, a disastrous skirmish, designaled the Black Saturday, or ” Drury’s Peace” as it was sometimes named, through the alleged treachery of the English ambassador. Provoked by a bravado on the part of the Earl of Morton, who held leith, and who came forth with horse and foot to the Hawkhill, the Earl of Huntly, at the head of a body of Queen Mary’s followers, with a train of guns, issued out of Edinburgh, and halted at the Quarry Holes, where he was visited br Sir William Drury, the ambassador of Queen Elizabeth, who had been with Morton in Ieith during the preceding night. His proposed object was an amicable adjustment of differences, to the end that no loss of life should ensue between those who were countrymen, and, in too many instances, relatives and friends. With all the affected zeal of a peacemaker, this gentleman (whose house stood in Drury Lane, off the Strand in london), proposed terms which Huntly deemed satisfactory; but the next point to be considered was, which party should first match off the field. On this, both parties were absurdly obstinate. Huntly maintained that Morton, by an aggressive display, had drawn the Queen’s troops out of the city; while Morton, on the other hand, charged the Highland Earl with various acts of hostility and insult Drury eventually got both parties to promise to quit the ground at a given signal, ” and that signal,” he arranged, ” shall be the throwing up of my hat”
This was agreed to, and before Drury was halfway between the Hawkhill and the ancient quarries up went his plumed hat, and away wheeled Huntly’s forces, marching for the city by the road that led to the Canongate, without the least suspicion of the treachery of Drury, or Morton, whose soldiers had never left their ground, and who now,
rushing across the open fields with shouts charged with the utmost fury the queen’s men, ” who were retiring with all the imprudent irregularity and confusion which an imaginary security and exultation
at having escaped a sanguinary conflict were calculated to produce.”
Thus treacherously attacked, they were put to flight, and were pursued with cruel and rancorous slaughter to the very gates of the city. The whole road was covered with dead and wounded men, while Lord Home, several gentlemen of high position, and seventy-two private soldiers, a pair of colours, several horses, and two pieces of cannon, were, amid great triumph, marched into Leith in the
afternoon.
This was not the only act of treachery of which Sir William Drury was guilty. He swore that he was entirely innocent, and threw the whole blame on Morton; but though an ambassador, so exasperated were the people of Edinburgh against him, that lie had afterwards to quit the city under a guard to protect him from the infuriated mob

Source Old and New Edinburgh

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