The History of Leith

May 2, 2012

Little London

Eastward of the King’s Wark, between Bernard’s
Street and chapel, lies the locality once so curiously
designated Little London, and which, according to
Kincaid, measured ninety feet from east to west,
by seventy-five broad over the walls. ” How it
acquired the name of Little London is now
unknown,” says Campbell, in his “History”;
“but it was so-called in the year 1674. We do
not see, however,” he absurdly remarks, “that it
could have obtained this appellation from any
other circumstance than its having had some
real or supposed resemblance to the [English]
metropolis.”
As the views preserved of Little London show it
to have consisted of only four houses or so, and
these of two storeys high, connected by a dead
wall with one doorway, facing Bernard Street in
1800, Campbell’s theory is untenable. It is much
more probable that it derived its name from being
the quarters or cantonments of those 1,500 English
soldiers who, under Sir William Drury, Marshal of
Berwick, came from England in April, 1573, to
assist the Regent Morton’s Scottish Companies in
the reduction of Edinburgh Castle. These men
departed from Leith on the i6th of the following
June, and it has been supposed that a few of them
may have been induced to remain, and the locality
thus won the name of Little London, in the same
fashion that the hamlet near Craigmillar was named
” Little France” from the French servants of
Mary.
” In a small garden attached to one of the houses
in Little London,” says a writer, whose anecdote
we give for what it is worth, ” there was a flowerplot
which was tended with peculiar care long
after its original possessors had gone the way of
all flesh, and it was believed that the body of a
young and beautiful female who committed suicide
was interred here. The peculiar circumstances
attending her de*ath, and the locality made choice
of for her interment, combined to throw a romantic
interest over her fate and fortunes, and
her story was handed down from one generation
to another.”

source-Old and New Edinburgh

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