The History of Leith

November 16, 2011


The Minute of 1694 which has been quoted makes mention of tokens. Our Records show that these passports to the Communion Services received the familiar name of tokens in the later part of the 17th century, and we know that they were last used some 30 or 40 years ago, so that the use of tokens in South Leith Church prevailed for about two centuries. In the early Records we read not of tokens but of ” tickets,” a term which in Edinburgh and probably also in Leith meant metal tickets, and therefore had the same significance as tokens; but it has been suggested that the tickets were what we now call communion cards, though this is unlikely. The first of our Minutes to mention tokens is dated 29th September 1692, when the Session upon examination of a bag in the custody of the Minister found about 1,000 tokens which were formerly made use of in the Meeting House in Cables Wynd, where our presbyterian predecessors worshipped in the days when episcopacy drove them out of the church. The tokens bore the three letters S.L.M. meaning no doubt South Leith Meetinghouse; and the Minute tells us that the Session first ordered 611 new tokens to be made, and later 400 to bring the number up to about 2,000. A Minute of 28th September 1696 mentions tokens bearing the following
inscription ———,
meaning South Leith Kirk 1696.
In the early years of the 18th century three separate sets of tokens existed, and these were not used at the same time but at consecutive communions. These are described in the Minutes of different years as follows : (1) square tokens marked with cyphered letters S.L.K. 1701 ; (2) round tokens marked S.L.K. 94 on the one side and plain on the other side; (3) round tokens marked S.L.K. on one side, with the figure of the church on the other side. The Minutes fixing the order of the communion service also prescribed the tokens to be used. A Minute of 18th August 1737 appointed the three several sets of tokens to be turned into one set to be stamped with the figure of the church upon the one side and the letters S.L.K. on the other side. It is not necessary to enlarge on this subject since information about our tokens may be obtained in the porch of the church where a glass case is displayed with specimens and relative Minutes. For these interesting and worthy relics we are indebted to our good friend Mr Goalen.

source-South leith Records

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