The History of Leith

January 26, 2011

An act of Council to cut their throats. ‘

Sir Robert Logan of Restalrig, granted to the Edinburghers, for a large
consideration, an exclusive, ruinous, and enslaving bond, by which the inhabitants of Leith were not only restrained from carrying on any sort of trade, but debarred even the humble occupation of keeping shops or warehouses; and that no means of livelihood whatever should be left to the unhappy Leithers, they were by this grant forbidden to keep inns, or houses of entertainment for strangers. Even all this did not
satisfy the unconscionable avidity of the Edinburghers, who, with a vindictive and illiberal policy, which none but themselves would have practised, in the year 1485, ordained, by their Town Council, that no
merchant of Edinburgh presume to take into partnership an inhabitant of Leith, under the penalty of forty shillings to the church work, and to be deprived of the freedom of the city for one year. The same Council further enacted that none of the revenues of Edinburgh be let to an inhabitant of Leith, nor of the farmers of the said revenues presume to take a Leither as a partner in any contract relating to the same, nor to take any person cf Leith into his service in that respect, under the penalties aforesaid.
In another act of Council, of which we have not ascertained the date, but which, from its tenor, we may presume was passed about the same period, it was enacted that no staple goods, whether of strangers or freemen of other burghs, after they are unladen, be
housed, or remain longer in Leith than is absolutely necessary, before conveying them to Edinburgh, under the pain of escheat, and that the said goods or merchandise be not. sold or disposed of in Leith, under
the same penalty. After this we conceive there was but one measure wanting to complete the destruction of the unhappy Leithers, and that—we say it in all sincerity—was an an act of Council to cut their
throats. ‘

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