The History of Leith

May 12, 2012

The Merchants of Leith

The Kirkgate is a street that carries back the mind to the
days of Wood and the Bartons, when the port of
Leith was in constant communication with Bordeaux
and the Garonne, and when the Scots of those
days were greater claret drinkers than the English ;
and when commerce here was as we find it detailed
in the ledger of Andrew Haliburton, the
merchant of Middelburg and Conservator of Scottish
Privileges there, between 1493 and 1505—a
ledger that gives great insight to the imports at
Leith and elsewhere in Scotland.
Haliburton acted as agent for churchmen as well
as laymen, receiving and selling on commission the
raw products of the Netherlands, and sending home
nearly every kind of manufactured article then in
use. He appears often to have visited Edinburgh,
settling old accounts and arranging new ventures;
and with that piety which in those days formed so
much a part of the inner life of the Scottish people,
the word JHESUS is inscribed on every account.
Haliburton appears to have imported cloths, silk,
linen, and woollen stuffs; wheelbarrows to build
King’s College, Aberdeen ; fruit, drugs, and plate;
Gascony, Rhenish, and Malvoisie wines; pestles,
mortars, brass basins, and feather beds; an image
of St. Thomas a Becket, from Antwerp, for John of
Pennycuik; tombstones from Middelburg; mace,
pepper, saffron, and materials for Walter Chapman,
the early Scottish printer.

source-Old and New Edinburgh

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