The History of Leith

May 5, 2012

The Sheriff, or Shirra Brae

From thence, another quarter known as the
Sheriff, or Shirra Brae:, extends in a south-westerly
direction, still abounding in ancient houses. Here,
facing the Coal Hill, there stood, till 1840, a very
fine old edifice, described as having been the residence
of a Logan of Restalrig. *The dormer
windows, which rose high above the eaves, were
elaborately sculptured with many dates and quaint
devices. Some of these have been preserved in
the north wall of the manse of St. Thomas’s Church.
One of them displays a shield charged with a heart,
surmounted by a fleur-de-lis, with the initials I.L.
and the date 1636 ; another has the initials I.L.,
M.C., with the date 24 Dec., 1636; a third has
the initials M.C., with a shield; while a fourth
gablet has the initials D.D., M.C., and the comparatively
recent date 1730.
The supposed grandson of the luckless Logan
of the Govvrie conspiracy married Isabel Fowler,
daughter of Ludovic Fowler of Burncastle (says
Robertson), the famous ” Tibbie Fowler” of
Scottish song, and here she is said to have resided;
but her husband has been otherwise said to have
been a collateral of the ancient house of Restalrig,
as it is recorded, under date i2th June, 1572—
“Majestro Joanne Logan de Shireff Braye,” who
postpones the case of Christian Gudsonne, wife of
Andrew Burne in Leith, “dilatit of the mutilation
of William Burne, burgess of Edinburgh, of his
foremost finger be byting thereof.”
In the chartulary, says Robertson, we have also
JohnLoganeof the Coalfield (Kirkgate), and George
Logane of Bonnington Mills is repeatedly alluded
to; ” and we believe,” he adds, that these branches
” existed as early as the charter of King David.”
The old house at Bonnington still shows a curious
doorway, surmounted by a carefully sculptured
tablet bearing a shield, with a chevron and three
fleurs-de-lis; crest, a ship with sails furled. The
motto and date are obliterated.
Another writer supposes that if the old house on
the Sheriff Brae was really the residence of George
Logan, it may have been acquired by marriage,
” seeing that the forfeiture of the family possessions
occurred so shortly before ; and this in itself affords
some colour to the tradition that he was the successful
wooer of Tibbie Fowler.”
In support of this, the historian of Leith says :—
” We think it not improbable that it was Tibbie’s
tocher that enabled Logan, who was ruined by the
attainder of 1609, to build the elegant mansion on
the Sheriff Brae. The marriage contract between
Logan and Isabella Fowler (supposed to be the
Tibbie of the song) still exists.

source-Old and New Edinburgh

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