The History of Leith

June 1, 2011

Cromwell, North Leith Church and South Leith Church

By 1650 Leith was occupied by the Troops of Oliver Cromwell. Although Cromwell respected the Scottish Church he felt as if the Church had double crossed him as he had accepted the National Covenant. However as soon as he was told that not only had Charles II accepted the National Covenant but was in Leith. He invaded Scotland defeating the Scots army at Dunbar and Leith was occupied. However although the decision was made to build the citadel in North Leith the fact remains that military equipment had to be stored somewhere and as the only large stone building available was South Leith
Church, that is where the armies military stores where kept until the Citadel was built, and the congregation were evicted, worship taking place in different areas around the town. However by 1653 there was a gradual movement back to the Church. This was accomplished by 1654. According to the records “Upon the 13th day of November 1654 being the Lord’s Day the preaching began again to be in our Church. Prases to our Lord”. However there were still many Cromwellian troops and English families in Leith and they attended the Church, and the minister of South Leith at the time was Mr John Hogg, who
was a good minister, but he had one great failing and that he was a Royalist and he couldn’t keep his political opinions to himself, not only did he pray for Charles II he openly criticised the government and so Mr Stevenson the Church Treasurer received a order from Major Pearson the Town Major for the Church Keys, on instructions from Timothy Wilks the Deputy Governor. So the Congregation were again evicted however due to a petition to Cromwell himself and the Privy Council of Scotland it was ordered that the Congregation should worship at North Leith and this began on the 10th July 1656 in the old St Ninian Church. At the same time due to the building of the Citadel the graveyard of St Nicholas which was the graveyard for North Leith, had been removed, therefore it was arranged for North Leith burials to take place at South Leith. This continued for a number of years until North Leith obtained the graveyard in Coburg Street. Later in 1656 the congregation finally returned to South Leith and that is why on the wall of the North aisle is a beam showing 16-For the Craigend-56. Strictly speaking it is not a beam but came from the pew for the Calton area were the Shoemakers lived. However at
this period Calton came within the Parish of South Leith, 1656 refers to the year not only when the congregation moved back into South Leith but in that year North Leith and South Leith worked very closely together helping each other out.

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