The History of Leith

November 15, 2010

PLAQUE AND PESTILENCE

JUST as a wave of pestilence seemed to follow in the wake of the Great War with Germany, so in those evil days of civil war in England between Cavaliers and Roundheads, and of the fierce and savage campaign of Montrose in Scotland, Leith and Edinburgh were desolated with the last and most terrible outbreak of the plague they were ever to know. Sir Thomas Hope, the great Puritan lawyer of Charles I.’s time, as he sat in his stately old mansion, now displaced by the Edinburgh Public Library, records in his diary under May 12, 1645, ” A dauchter of Sir William Gray’s dcpartit of the plaig, which put us all in greit fear.” The dread scourge broke out in Leith about the same time, for, dated 3rd April, is the following ominous entry in the South Leith Church Records : “To furnish provisions for ye woman at ye Yarde heads who is steekit up (that is, shut up in her house) for feare of ye plague.”
These cases were but the heralds of a fast approaching scourge. Soon death and desolation reigned in every street, and to add to the horror of the situation the pestilence was accompanied by famine, for the harvest of the previous year had been a failure. In old-time Scotland plague, or the pest as it was usual to call it then, frequently followed

source-The Story of Leith

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