The History of Leith

October 22, 2011

Charters and Leith

The earliest reference to Leith in history it in King David’s famous charter to Holyrood, circa 1143 7, wherein he gives the water, fishings, and meadows to the canons serving God therein, ” and
Broctan, with its right marches; and that Inverlet which is nearest the harbour, and with the half of the fishing, and with a whole tithe of all the fishing that belongs to the church of St. Cuthbert.”
This charter of King David is either repeated or quoted in all subsequent grants by charter, or purchases of superiority, referringrtto Leith; and by it there would seem to have been in that early age some species of harbour where the Leith joins the Firth of Forth ; but there is again a reference to it in 1313, when all the vessels there were burned by the English during the war waged by Edward II., which ended in the following year at Bannockburn.
On the 28th of May, 1329, King Robert I. began all the future troubles of Leith by a grant of it to the city of Edinburgh, in the following terms :—-
” Robert, by the grace of God King of Scots, to all good men of his land, greeting: Know ye that we have given, granted, and to perform let, and by this our present charter confirmed, to the burgesses of our burgh of Edinburgh, our foresaid burgh of; Edinburgh, together with the port of Leith, mills, and their pertinents, to have and to hold, to the said burgesses and their successors, of us and our heirs, freely, quietly, fully, and honourably, by all their right meithes and marches, with all the commodities, liberties, and easements which justly pertained to the said burgh in the time of King, Alexander, our predecessor last deceased, of goodmemory ; paying, therefore, the said burgesses and their successors, to us and our heirs, yearly, fifty two merks sterling, at the terms of Whitsunday, and Martinmas in winter, by equal proportions. In witness whereof we have commanded our seal to be affixed to our present charter. Testibus, Walter of Twynham, our Chancellor ; Thomas Randolph, Earl of Moray, Lord of Annandale and Man, our nephew; James, Lord of Douglas ; Gilbert of Hay,, our Constable ; Robert of Keith, our Marischall of Scotland, and Adam Moore, knights. At Cardross,. the 28th of May, in the twenty-fourth year of our reign.” (Burgh Charters, No. iv.)

source-Old and New Edinburgh

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