The History of Leith

February 15, 2011

The Watson Kendall Monument-South Leith Church

The Watson Kendall Monument.
IN the North-East Porch, which is really part of the portion of the church allotted to mariners, there is found the oldest monument in the
church. It is situated on the capital of the north pillar, now partly embedded in the wall, which must either have carried the arch of a
demolished transept or supported one of the corners of a central tower.
The monument consists of two panels, upon which are engraved the inscriptions. On the top of the moulding of the panels is a pediment,
in the centre of which is sculptured a sand glass with the bold date, 1674, partly on either side, and under the date the letters M.M.I.K;
It is interesting that the oldest monument in the church should be connected with shipping. Leith has always owed its prosperity to the sea, and in all probability will continue to do so.
The inscription is as follows :—
Right Panel—
Here lyeth Maiiiou Mackyne Spous
to John Watsone, Skipper in Leith.
Who deceased the 15th day of February
1674. Being of age here 34 years.
Lyeth John Watson, Skipper in Leith
Who deceased, Jan. 15th 1691. Being of
age 61 years, and Androu Watson, and
Alexander Watson, tuo of his.

Left Panel-
Here lyeth James Kendall, Skipper
in Leith who deceased the last day
of March 1674. His age being 40 years.
Here lyeth Alexander Kendall, son to
the deceased James Kendall, Skipper
in Leith, who deceased September 14th
His age being 21 years.
This monument, as has been said, is the oldest extant on the walls of the church. Its situation renders it practically invisible except for the large initials. In order to decipher it, it was necessary for Mr Limond to throw wide open the doors of the porch, to turn on the light, and to mount to the top of the pillar by means of a ladder. Thus the discovery of the actual inscription was somewhat of an accident.
John Watson was a shipmaster of Leith and was Boxmaster of Trinity House on 12th May 1690.
This monument, almost forgotten in the dim light, is an allegory. After half a century it is very difficult to trace both the history and even
the descendants of those commemorated in private monuments. Families either die out, or migrate to some other place, leaving not a trace behind. To stumble upon a monument; therefore, is to discover an impressive proof that things which are seen are temporal. It was
possible to discover, by using the office where the wills of the country are kept, some few facts about the monuments dating back from
eighty to a hundred years. But it is impossible to use this channel for recovering any information about ordinary and unhistorical persons
who died over two hundred and fifty years ago. It may be presumed, seeing their memorials are in church, that they served their generation by the will of God before they fell on sleep. But thick darkness hides from us how exactly they did it.

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