The History of Leith

October 18, 2010

St Anthony’s Preceptory

According to Dr. Rogers the preceptory of St. Anton’s stood on the west side of St. Anthony’s Wynd, and was there erected in 1430 by Sir Robert Logan of Bestalrig. In 1444 a document called an Obligement was granted by Friar Michael Gray, Master of the Hospital of St. Anton’s near Leith, with consent of the brethren of the Convent in favour of William of Clunes of Leith and Janet his wife, whereby in consideration that the said William and Janet had freely given to God and to St. Anton’s their tenement lying in the town of Leith, the preceptor obliges himself and his successors to say masses for the souls of the donors and to receive them into their Hospital in manner and upon the provisions therein mentioned. The full document is printed in Mr Campbell Iron’s book, and it should be noted that at this early date there was a hospital in the town. We know also of two commissions to preceptors granted by the Pope, one to William Morton and another to Richard Thomson ; while other holders of the same high
office were Matthew Forrester and Sir Alexander Crawford. In 1523 Sasine was given by Sir Richard Thomson to Elizabeth Lawson of ” ane
land fallen and ruinous,” one of the boundaries of which was the high way ” called the Hill,” meaning no doubt Coalhill, which is one of the oldest streets in Leith. On 6th October 1534 the Town Council of Edinburgh gave and granted to Sir David Lauson ” the chaplanrie
and service of the Magdalen alter in Sanct Anthonis Kirk in Leith, vacand in thair haudis be deceis of umquhle Sir Jhonne Henrisoune last chappellaine thairof with ail and sundrye proffittis etc. for all the dayis of his lyfe efter the forme of the fundatioun.” In 1572 a Charter was granted by King James VI., with consent of the Earl of Mar, then Regent, to the bailies, councillors and community of the town of Leith and their successors for ever of all lands, tenements and others belonging to any chaplainarys founded within any kirk, chappell or college within the town of Leith. This seemingly comprehensive document is also printed in Mr Campbell Iron’s book. In or about the year 1592 a signature was granted by King James in favour of John
Hay, one of the ordinary clerks of session, of the preceptory of St. Anton’s and of the ground where the kirk of the preceptory stood, and of all lands, tenements and others which belonged thereto (except the manse and four acres of land for the glebe); by which signature the
foresaid preceptory and benefice thereof are dissolved and suppressed, and it is ordained that there should never thereafter any successor or preceptor be provided to the said preceptory and the vassals thereof were to hold of the said John Hay. In the same year a Charter was granted by John Hay to Daniel Hay of that piece of ground on which the kirk of St. Anton’s stood, with the kirkyard, mansion houses, yards and orchyards. These two documents show that St. Anton’s had disappeared before 1592 and that a burial ground had existed there, and that what we now call the Yardheads may refer to the kirkyard or ” Yards ” or ” orchyards,” since these expressions all occur. In 1596 John Hay and Daniel Hay resigned their properties in the hands of King James in favour of the ministers, elders and deacons of the kirk session of Leith in name and behalf of the poor of the hospital of Leith present and to come. In the same year there was a resignation by the bailies, council and community of the town of
Leith in the King’s hands of all lands and tenements belonging to any chaplainarys or prebendarys founded within the town of Leith in favour of the ministers, elders and deacons of the kirk of Leith for behoof of the poor of the hospital. A Charter followed in the same year under the Great Seal in favour of the kirk session expressly for the behoof of the poor of the hospital, which seems at that time to have received much attention. The kirk session apparently required to make their title known to the world, and in 1597 they obtained a decree conform from the Lords of Session. From these titles therefore we learn that the kirk session have been proprietors of St. Anthony’s, and also of a hospital for the poor, from the year 1596.

source-South Leith Records

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