The History of Leith

March 25, 2012


Prior to the Communion on Sunday last, there was
placed in the Porch, at the west entrance of the Church,
a case of Communion Tokens, kindly presented by one of
our elders, Mr T. T. Goalen, the well-known collector.
These tokens refer of course to our parish only, and with
one blank they cover the long period of 215 years,
beginning with the year 1694, and ending with the
tercentenary token in 1909. The Kirk Session Minutes
show that, until the period of what is known as the
second Episcopacy in the latter part of the I7th century,
the right of church members to partake of the Sacrament
was vouched by ” tickets,” after the fashion of the
present day. The first mention of tokens in connection
with our Church is contained in a minute, of date 2gth
September 1692, which states “ye minister hath in his
custodie about one thousand tockens yt were formerly
made use of in ye meiting.” The meeting here referred
to was of course the meeting-house still standing in
Cables Wynd, where the Presbyterians of South Leith
worshipped while their church was in the hands of the
Episcopalians, although at the date of the minute in
question, the Presbyterians had by the exercise of force
and in dramatic fashion regained possession of the
Church. The minister brought the tokens with him
from the meeting-house, and they were made use of for
the first time in the Church at the October Communion
following. No specimen of this token is known to exist
A new round token was struck in 1694, and probably .
the old ones were melted down for this purpose. This
is the oldest of our tokens known to exist, and the
specimen is therefore of particular interest.
A square token was struck in 1696, of which unfortunately
no specimen has been recovered. We are glad,
however, to have specimens of all the other tokens to
which reference is made in our minutes, so far as these
have been searched, their dates being 1701, 1724, 1836,
1850, 1875, and 1909. In 1850, after the restoration of
the Church, tad again in’ 1875, it was found expedient
to have the tokens marked with figures for the different
tables, and the reason probably was, that with the
abandonment of the practice of celebrating the Communion
in the open air, it become necessary to regulate
the great throngs of people attending the services.
We feel sure that all lovers of South Leith Church
will welcome this addition to its relics, and the tokens
will doubtless be of great interest to many people in the
town and elsewhere. D. R.

source-South Leith Magazine 1912

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