History of Leith, Edinburgh

Archive for 2011

William Kirkcaldy of Grange

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

Sir William Kirkcaldy of Grange (c. 1520 – 3 August 1573), Scottish politician and general, was the eldest son of Sir James Kirkcaldy of Grange (d. 1556), a member of an old Fife family. The house of the Grange lands was Halyards Palace.

Sir James was lord high treasurer of Scotland from 1537 to 1543 and was a determined opponent of Cardinal Beaton, for whose murder in 1546 he was partly responsible. William Kirkcaldy assisted to compass this murder, and when the castle of St Andrew’s surrendered to the French in July 1547 he was sent as a prisoner to Normandy, whence he escaped in 1550. for more click here

The Siege of Edinburgh Castle 1573-part 1

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

MARY escaped from Lochleven on the and of May, , 1568, and after her defeat fled to England, the last country in Europe, as events showed, wherein she should have sought refuge or hospitality.
After the assassination of the Regent Moray, to his successor, the Regent Morton, fell the task of subduing all who lingered in arms for the exiled ! queen ; and so well did he succeed in this, that, save the eleven acres covered by the Castle rock of Edinburgh, which was held for three years by Sir William Kirkaldy of Grange with a garrison resolute as himself, the whole country was now
under his rule. Kirkaldy, whose services in France and elsewhere had won him the high reputation of being ” the bravest soldier in Europe,” left nothing undone,amid the unsettled state of affairs, to strengthen his post. He raised and trained soldiers without opposition, seized all the provisions that were brought into Leith, and garrisoned St. Giles’s j church, into the open spire of which he swung up cannon to keep the citizens in awe. This was on the 28th of March, 1571. After the Duke of Chatelherault, with his Hamiltons—all queen’s men —marched in on the Ist of May, the gables end of the church were loopholed for arquebuses. Immediate means were taken to defend the town against the Regent. Troops crowded into it; otherswere mustered for its protection, and this state of affairs continued for fully three years, during which Kirkaldy baffled the efforts of four successive Regents, till Morton was fain to seek aid from Elizabeth, to wrench from her helpless refugee
the last strength that remained to her; and most readily did the English queen agree thereto.
A truce which had been made between Morton and Kirkaldy expired on the ist of January, 1573, and as the church bells tolled six in the morning, the Castle guns, among which were two 48-pounders, French battardes, and English culverins or 18- pounders (according to the ” Memoirs of Kirkaldy”), opened on the city in the dark. It was then full of adherents of James VI., so Kirkaldy cared not
where his shot fell, after the warning gun had beenpreviously discharged, that all loyal subjects of the queen should retire. As the ‘grey winter dawn stole in, over spire and pointed roof, the cannonade was chiefly directed from the eastern curtain against the new Fish Market; the baskets in which were beaten so high in the air, that for days after their contents were seen scattered on the tops of the highest houses. In one place a single shot killed five persons and wounded twenty others. Selecting a night when the wind was high and blowing eastward, Kirkaldy made a sally, and set on fire all the thatched houses in West Port and Castle Wynd, cannonading the while the unfortunates who strove to quench the flames that rolled away towards the east. In March Kirkaldy resolutely declined to come to terms with Morton, though earnestly besought to do so by Henry Killigrew, who came ostensibly as an English envoy, but in reality as a spy from Elizabeth. ” He was next visited, in a pretended friendly manner, by Sir William Drury, Elizabeth’s Marshal of Berwick, the same who built Drury House in Wych Street, London, and who fell in a duel with Sir John
Burroughs about precedence, and from whom Drury Lane takes its name. When about to enter the Castle gate, an English deserter, who had enlisted under Queen Mary, in memory of some grudge, was about to shoot him with his arquebuse, when he was seized, and given up by Sir William Kirkaldy. This courtesy was ill-requited by his visitor, whose sole object was to note the number of his garrison and cannon, the height and strength of the walls, etc.” In anticipation of a siege, the citizens built several traverses to save the High Street from being enfiladed; one of these, formed
between the Thieves’ Hole and Bess Wynd, was two ells in thickness, composed of turf and mud ; and another near it was two spears high. In the city, the Parliament assembled on the 17th of January,
with a sham regalia of gilt brass, as Kirkaldy had the crown and real regalia in the Castle.

To be continued

Test Act

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

The Test Acts were a series of English penal laws that served as a religious test for public office and imposed various civil disabilities on Roman Catholics and Nonconformists. The principle was that none but persons professing the Established Church were eligible for public employment, and the severe penalties pronounced against recusants, whether Catholic or Nonconformist, were affirmations of this principle. In practice nonconformists were often exempted from some of these laws through the regular passage of Acts of Indemnity. for more click here

Archibald Campbell, 1st Marquess of Argyll

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

Archibald Campbell, 1st Marquess of Argyll, 8th Earl of Argyll, chief of Clan Campbell, (March 1607 – 27 May 1661) was the de facto head of government in Scotland during most of the conflict known as the Wars of the Three Kingdoms, also known as the British Civil War. He was a major figure in the Covenanter movement that fought for the Presbyterian religion and what they saw as Scottish interests during the English Civil War of the 1640s and 1650s. He is often remembered as the arch-enemy of the royalist general James Graham, 1st Marquess of Montrose. for more click here

Mr. William Spence

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

Mr. William Spence was put to the torture by the Privy Council concerning his master’s affairs, and the contents of several letters in cipher. After that he was put in the hands of Sir Thomas Dalyell, Colonel of the Scots Greys, a grim old veteran, whose snow-white vow-beard had never been cut since the death of Charles I., and by whom, says Fountainhall, ” with a hair-shirt and
pricking (as the witches are used), he was kept five nights from sleep, till he was half distracted.” After being thumb-screwed till his hands were hopelessly crushed, he was again flung into the
Castle, where perhaps the most pleasant sounds he heard were the minute guns, about Michaelmas, saluting the corpse of his ” persecutor ” (Dalyell, who died suddenly) as it was passing through the
West Port, with six field-pieces, the whole of the Scottish forces in Edinburgh, with his horse, baton, and armour, to the family vault near Abercorn.
Spence ultimately read the ciphers, which led to the capture, captivity in the Castle, and torture no less than twenty times, of the famous William Carstairs, of that ilk, afterwards Principal of the University of Edinburgh, and Moderator of the General Assembly; but such barbarities soon brought their own punishment; the Revolution came, and with it the last actual siege of the Castle of Edinburgh.

source-Old and New Edinburgh

Richard Rumbold

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

Richard Rumbold (1622–1685) was a Cromwellian soldier who took part in the Rye House Plot to assassinate Charles II of England and his brother James. for more click here

The Earl of Argyle and Richard Rumbold

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

In 1681 the Earl of Argyle was committed to the Castle for the third time for declining the oath required by the obnoxious Test Act as Commissioner of the Scottish Treasury ; and on the 12th
of December an assize brought in their verdict, by the Marquis of Montrose, his hereditary foe, finding him guilty ” of treason and leasing telling,” for which he received the sentence of death. His guards in the Castle were doubled, while additional troops were marched into the city to enforce order. He despatched a messenger to Charles II. seeking mercy, but the warrant had been hastened. At six in the evening of the 2oth December he was informed that next day at noon he would be conveyed to the city prison; but by seven o’clock he had conceived—like his father—a plan to escape.
Lady Sophia Lindsay (of Balcarres), wife of his son Charles, had come to bid him a last farewell; on her departure he assumed the disguise and office of her lackey, and came forth from his prison at eight, bearing up her long train. A thick fall of snow and the gloom of the December evening rendered the attempt successful; but at the outer gate the sentinel roughly grasped his arm. In
agitation the earl dropped the train of Lady Sophia, who, with singular presence of mind, fairly slapped his face with it, and thereby smearing his features with half-frozen mud, exclaimed, “Thou careless loon!”
Laughing at this, the soldier permitted them to pass. Lady Sophia entered her coach; the earl sprang on the footboard behind, and was rapidly driven from the fatal gate. Disguising himself completely, he left Edinburgh, and reached Holland, then the focus for all the discontented spirits in Britain. Lady Sophia was committed to the Tolbooth, but was not otherwise punished. After
remaining four years in Holland, he returned, and attempted an insurrection in the west against King James, in unison with that of Monmouth in England, but was irretrievably defeated at Muirdykes.
Attired like a peasant, disguised by a long beard, he was discovered and overpowered by three militiamen, near Paisley. ” Alas, alas, unfortunate Argyle !” he exclaimed, as they struck him down ;
then an officer, Lieutenant Shaw (of the house of Greenock), ordered him to be bound hand and foot and sent to Edinburgh, where, by order of the Secret Council, he was ignominiously conducted
through the streets with his hands corded behind him, bareheaded, escorted by the horse guards, and preceded by the hangman to the Castle, where, for a third time, he was thrust into his old chamber.
On the day he was to die he despatched the following note to his son. It is preserved in the Salton Charter chest:—
” Edr. Castle, 3Oth June, ’85.
” DEARE JAMES,—Learn to fear God ; it is the only way
to make you happie here and hereafter. Love and respect
my wife, and hearken to her advice. The Lord bless. I am
your loving father, ABGYLE. ”

The last day of his life this unfortunate noble passed pleasantly and sweetly; he dined heartily, and, retiring to a closet, lay down to sleep ere the fatal hour came. At this time one of the Privy
Council arrived, and insisted on entering. The door was gently opened, and there lay the great Argylein his heavy irons, sleeping the placid sleep of. infancy.
” The conscience of the renegade smote him,”
says Macaulay; ” he turned sick at heart, ran
out of the Castle, and took refuge in the dwelling
of a lady who lived hard by. There he flung
himself on a couch, and gave himself up to an
agony of remorse and shame.
His kinswoman, alarmed by his looks and groans, thought he had been taken with sudden illness, and begged him to drink a cup of sack. ‘No, no,’ said he, ‘it will do me no good.’ She prayed him to tell what had disturbed him. ‘ I have been,’ he said,’ in Argyle’s prison. I have seen him within an hour of eternity sleeping as sweetly as eve”r man did. But as for me’
At noon on the 3oth June, 1685, he was escorted to the market cross to be “beheaded and have his head affixed to the Tolbooth on a high pin of iron.” When he saw the old Scottish guillotine,
under the terrible square knife of which his father, and so many since the days of Morton, had perished, he saluted it with his lips, saying, ” It is the sweetest maiden I have ever kissed.” ” My
lord dies a Protestant!” cried a clergyman aloud to the assembled thousands. ” Yes,” said the Earl, stepping forward, ” and not only a Protestant, but with a heart-hatred of Popery, Prelacy, and all superstition.” He made a brief address to the people, laid his head between the grooves of the guillotine, and died with equal courage and composure. His head was placed on the Tolbooth gable, and his body was ultimately sent to the burial-place of his family, Kilmun, on the shore of the Holy Loch in Argyle.
While this mournful tragedy was being enacted his countess and family were detained prisoners in the Castle, wherein daily were placed fresh victims who were captured in the West. Among these
were Richard Rumbold, a gentleman of Hertfordshire, who bore a colonel’s commission under Argyle (and had planted the standard of revolt on the Castle of Ardkinglass), and Mr. William Spence, styled his ” servitour.” Both were treated with terrible severity, especially Rumbold. In a cart, bareheaded, and heavily manacled, he was conveyed from the Water Gate to the Castle, escorted by Graham’s City Guard, with drums beating, and on the 28th of June he was hanged, drawn, and quartered, at the Cross, where his heart was torn from his breast, and exhibited, dripping and reeking, by the executioner, on the point of a plug-bayonet, while he exclaimed, ” Behold the heart of Richard Rumbold, a bloody English traitor and murderer!”
According to Wodrow and others, his head, after being placed on the West Port, was sent to London on the 4th of August, while his quarters were gibbeted in the four principal cities in Scotland.

source-Old and New Edinburgh

Mr William Carstairs

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

(usual spelling Carstares), minister in Edinburgh, principal of the University of Edinburgh.
The son of the Covenanting minister of Cathcart in Lanarkshire, he was educated at University of Edinburgh (1663-7) and then at Utrecht (1669-72), having left Scotland after his father was outlawed. He came to London in 1672, probably as an agent of William of Orange, while France and England were trying to crush Holland, and was held as a political prisoner in Edinburgh castle 1674-9. During 1682-3 he was active in both England and Scotland helping to organise a rising by the Whigs and the Earl of Argyll. He was captured at Tenterden in Kent in 1683 and shipped to Scotland. There he was tortured with thumbscrews until he made a partial confession on the promise that it would not be used as evidence; but it was immediately used in the trial of George Baillie of Jeviswood, who was executed. for more click here

The Rough Wooing

Monday, December 19th, 2011

On the death of James V., in 1542, the Regent Arran thoroughly repaired the Castle, and appointed governor Sir James Hamilton of Stanehouse, a gallant soldier, ‘who proved worthy of the trust reposed in him when, in 1544, Henry VIII., exasperated at the Scots for declining to fulfil a treaty, made by an English faction, affiancing the young Queen Mary to his only son Edward, sent the Earl of Hertford with an army, and 200 sail under Dudley Lord I’Tsle to the Forth, with orders, so characteristic of a ferocious despot, ” to put all to fire and sword ; to burn Edinburgh, raze, deface, and sack it; to beat down and overthrow the Castle ; to sack Holyrood and as many towns and villages as he could; to sack Leith, burn, and subvert it, and all the rest; putting man, woman, and child, to fire and sword, without exception.”

source-Old and New Edinburgh

Battle of Sark

Monday, December 19th, 2011

The Battle of Sark (alternatively called the Battle of Lochmaben Stone) was fought between England and Scotland in October 1448. A large battle, it was the first significant Scottish victory over the English in over half a century, following the Battle of Otterburn of 1388. It placed the Scots in a position of strength against the English for over a decade, until Edward IV ascended the English throne, and it brought Clan Douglas to greater prominence in Scotland. for more click here

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