The History of Leith

October 3, 2011

Moorish lasses

Among the captures of the Bartons from the Portuguese that made a great sensation in Leith and Edinburgh were two negro maids, who had no doubt been carried off from the coast of Guinea to be sold as slaves. A much more kindly destiny, however, was in store forthem. The Bartons presented the ” Moorish lasses,” as they were popularly called, to King James IV., who not only accepted the gift but took the greatest interest in their welfare. A devoted son of the Church, he had them baptized as Margaret and Ellen, perhaps after the youthful Queen Margaret and the wife of the Governor of Edinburgh Castle, where they were housed as maids to some of the Court ladies. Dunbar, the great Scottish poet of that time, who knew the ” Moorish lasses ” well, reflects their happy lot in his poem entitled ” Ane Black-Moor ” :—
” Quhen she is claid in riche apparel
She blinks as bright as ane tar barrel,
My ladye with the mekle lippis.”

Source-The Story of leith Leith

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