The History of Leith

November 3, 2011


THE mediaeval laws that made all overseas trade a monopoly of the merchants of royal burghs can only be understood when we remember how heavy was the price paid for those special privileges enjoyed by free burghs like Edinburgh, in which the inhabitants of all other burghs and unfree towns like Leith bore no share. The jealous way in which Edinburgh guarded its privileges against any encroachment on the part of the unfreemen of Leith shows how burdensome the royal burghs felt the cost at which these privileges were obtained. It was to meet the heavy charges laid on them by the king in return for the many rights and privileges gifted to them by royal charters that no ” pakking or peiling ” was permitted in Leith, and that all ships’ cargoes had to be taken to Edinburgh as soon as they were landed on the Shore, and be disposed of at the City Cross. For all goods on entering the city gates, or on being weighed at the ” tron ” or public weighing beam just within, had to pay toll and dues. These were called the petty customs, and went to the common good of the burgh. From these petty customs,- their chief source of revenue—for there were no taxes then as we understand them to-day

source-The Story of Leith

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