The History of Leith

July 21, 2011

The last of the Plague-1646

3 Febr. 1646.—Not of defuncts ye tym of ye visitatioun ut sequitur. The quhilk day (efter incalling upone God) Mr David Aldinstone, reader, reportit that he had gone to everie elder in particular, and receavit the nomber of the defuncts who died of the infection in anno 1645, and the nomber is as followeth :—
Sands quarter—-James Gibsone, 069 ; Alexr.
Ruddoch, 044; James Downie, 114—227.
Hill quarter—Francis Wilkie, 068 • John Gray
baxter, 136; Andro Archibald 186—390.
Tolbuith quarter—Robert Murro 203 ; Jhone
Bewie 273; Alexr. Balfour 133—609.
Lees quarter—Jhone Mubray 165; Js. Crawfurd
263 ; Jhone Kelloe 167 ; James Steinsone
170; Robt. Mathisone 207 ; Wm. Comrie
So the whole no in South Leith is 2421. In Restalrig yr died to the number of 160, in Craigend yr died 155. The number of the whole defuncts in the whole parioch wilbe 2736.
(Note.—The Sands quarter was the Bernard Street district; the Hill was Coalhill; the Lees was St. Anthony’s and Yardhsads; Craigend was Calton. The two ends of the Barony of Restalrig were
Lochend and Craigend ; i.e., the part with the loch and the part with the craig or hill. The population of South Leith before the plague was under 4000, and of this number the great proportion lived in the Lees quarter. Here ends the record of the plague of 1645, the last in Scotland and one of the most virulent. It is remarkable that the “Great Plague” of 1665 never touched Scotland. Previous to 1645 the visitations were numerous, e.g., 1497; 1530; 1568; 1585; 1588. These dates show its frequent return and no doubt made the treatment matter of common knowledge to the authorities. Of the plague of 1645 an interesting memorial still exists ia the “Morocco Land” in the Canongate; said to have been built by a Morocco pirate, who attacked Edinburgh. He cured the
Provost’s daughter of her sickness, married her, and ultimately revealed himself as Andrew Gray, a younger son of the Master of Gray, a family now merged in that of Stuart, Earl of Moray. No memorial of the plague exists in Leith except the graves of the unknown victims.)

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