The History of Leith

July 6, 2011

Lord Balmerino

In 1650, during the defence of the city against Cromwell, Charles II., after being feasted in the Parliament House on the sgih of July, “thairafter went down to Leith,” says Nicoll, in his ” Diary,”
” to ane ludging belonging to the Lord Balmerinoch, appointit for his resait during his abyding in Leith.”
Balfour records in his “Annals ” that Anna Kerr, widow of John, Lord Balmerino, second sister of Robert, Earl of Somerset, Viscount Rochester, departed this lyffe at Leith,” on the 15th February, 1650, and was solemnly interred at Restalrig.
The part borne in history by Arthur, sixth and last lord of this family, is inseparably connected with the adventures of Prince Charles Edward. He was born in the year of the Revolution, and held a
captain’s commission under Queen Anne in Viscount Shannon’s Foot, the 25th, or Regiment of Edinburgh. This he resigned to take up arms under the Earl of Mar, and fought at Sheriffmuir, after which he entered the French service, wherein he remained till the death of his brother Alexander, who, as the Gentleman’s Magazine records, expired at Leith in October, 1733. His father, anxious for his return home, sent him a free pardon from Government when he was residing at Berne, in Switzerland, but he would not accept it until ” he had obtained the permission of James VIII. to do so;” after which, the twenty years’ exile returned, and was joyfully received by his aged father. When Prince Charles landed in the memorable year, 1745,
Arthur Elphinstone was among the first to join him, and was appointed colonel and captain of the second troop of Life Guards, under Lord Elcho, attending his person.
He was at the capture of Carlisle, the advance to and retreat from Derby, and was present with the Corps de Reserve at the victory of Falkirk. He succeeded his brother as Lord Balmerino on the 5th January, 1746, and was taken prisoner at Culloden, committed to the Tower, and executed with the Earl of Kilmarnock in the August of the same year. His conduct at his death was marked by the most glorious firmness and intrepidity. By his wife, Margaret, daughter of Captain Chalmers of Leith, he left no issue, so the male line of this branch of the house of Elphinstone became extinct.
His estates were confiscated, and the patronage of the first charge of South Leith reverted to the Crown. In 1746, “Elizabeth, dowager of Balmerino” (widow of James, fifth lord), applied by
petition to ” My Lords Commissioners of Edinburgh” for the sum of ^97 55., on the plea ” that your petitioner’s said deceast lord having died on the 6th day of January, 1746, the petitioner did aliment his family from that time till the Whitsunday thereafter.” And the widow, “baroness of Arthur—decollatus—was reduced to an aliment of forty pounds a year, “graciously granted by the
House of Hanover,” adds Robertson, who, in a footnote, gives us a touching little letter of hers, written in London on the day after her husband’s execution, addressed to her sister, Mrs. Borthwick.

Source-Old and New Edinburgh

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