The History of Leith

March 22, 2011

The Peat Neuk

On the death of Lennox, John, Eart of Mar, was made Recent, and fixed his head quarters in the same old tenement at the Coal Hilt, Morton being again chief h’eutenant
From the presence of these peers here, it is probable that the adjacent gloomy, and now filthy, court, so grotesquely called Parliament Square, obtained its name, which seems to have been formerly the Peat Neuk. The old Council House has been
doomed to perish by the new improvement scheme.
In December, 1797, it was ordered by the Lord Provost, Magistrates, and Council of Edinburgh, through the deputy share-master at Leith, that every vessel coming into the port with coals for public sale, was to have a berth immediately on her arrival off the Coal Hill, and that all other vessels were to unmoor for that purpose, while no shore duties were to be charged for coal vessels. (Herald and Chonicle No, 1,215.)
The adjacent Peat Neuk, for years during the
18th century and the beginning of the present (19th century), afforded a shelter to those reckless and abandoned characters who abound in every seaport; while in
that portion of the town between the Coal Hill and the foot of the Tolbooth Wynd were a number of ancient and ruinous houses, the abode of wandering outcasts, from whom no rent was ever derived or expected. It was further alleged, in the early part of the nineteenth century, to be the favourite haunt of disembodied spirits, whose crimes or
sufferings in life compelled them to wander; so, every way, the Coal Hill seems to have been an unpleasant, a& it is still an unsavoury, locality (In 1885)

source-Old and New Edinburgh

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