The History of Leith

February 4, 2012

Cleanse the Causeway-Blackfriars Wynd

A BROAD pend (Anglid archway\ leading through the successor to the tenement in which Lady Lovat dwelt, gave access to the Blackfriars Wynd, which, without doubt, was one of the largest, most important, and most ancient of the thoroughfares diverging from the High Street, and which of old was named the Preaching Friars’ Vennel, as it led to the Dominican monastery, or Black Friary, founded by Alexander II., in 1230, on the high ground beyond the Cowgate, near where the Old Infirmary stands. The king gave the friars—among whom he resided for some time—with many other
endowments, a grant of the whole ground now occupied by the old wynd and modern street, to erect houses, and for five centuries these edifices formed the dwelling-places of some of the most
aristocratic families in Scotland, and of many ecclesiastics of the highest rank. Many a fierce struggle between armed men has taken place here, among them the most important being that of ” Cleanse the Causeway,” when the victorious Douglases under the fiery Angus, swept the Hamiltons before them, and rushed in mad melee to assail the palace of the Archbishop of Glasgow at the Wynd foot, from whence he fled for shelter to the Dominican church, on the opposite slope. And here, in July, 1588, occurred the bloody brawl between the Earl of Bothwell and. Sir William Stewart of Monkton.
Between these two a quarrel had taken place in the king’s chamber ; the lie was given, and a somewhat ribald altercation followed, but nothing occurred for nearly three weeks after, till Sir William Stewart, when coming down the High Street with a party of his friends, met Bothwell, accompanied by the Master of Gray and others, going up.
A collision between two such .parties was but natural, and, in the spirit of the times, unavoidable. Sword and dagger were instantly resorted to, and in the general fight Sir William Stewart slew a friend of Bothwell’s, but in doing so lost his sword, and, being defenceless, was compelled to fly into Blackfriars Wynd. Thither the vengeful Bothwell pursued him, and, as he stood unarmed against a wall, “strake him in at the back and out at the belly, and killed him.”
For this Bothwell found it necessary to keep out of the way only for a few days; and such events so commonly occurred, that it is not curious to find the General Assembly, exactly a week after this combat, proceeding quietly with the usual work of choosing a Moderator, providing for ministers

source-Old and New Ministers

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