The History of Leith

June 1, 2012

The terror of his name

During the reign of James III., the fighting merchant
of Leith, Sir Andrew Wood, bore- the terror
*of his name through English, Dutch, and Flemish
waters, and in two pitched battles defeated the
superior power of England at sea. As he was the
first of his race whose name obtained eminence,
nothing is knowifof his family, and even much of
his personal history is buried in obscurity. Dr.
Abercrombie, in his ” Martial Achievements,” supposes
him to have been a cadet of the Bonnington
family in Angus, and he is generally stated to have
been born about the middle of the fifteenth century
at the old Kirktoun of Largo, situated on the
beautiful bay of the same name.
Wood appears to have been during the early
part of the reign of James III. a wealthy merchant
in Leith, where at first he possessed and commanded
two armed vessels of some 300 tons each, the
Yellow Caravel and Flower, good and strong ships,
superior in equipment to any that had been seen in
Scotland before, so excellent were his mariners,
their arms, cannon, and armour. According to
a foot-note in Scott of Scotstarvit’s work, ” he had
been first a skipper at the north side of the bridge
of Leith, and being pursued, mortified his house
to Paul’s Work (in Leith Wynd) as the register
It would appear that the vessel called the Yellow
Caravel was formerly commanded by his friend
John Barton (of whom more elsewhere), as in the
accounts of the Lord High Treasurer the following
note occurs by the editor :—•
“In March 1473-4 the accounts contain a notice
of a ship which a cancelled entry enables us to
identify with the King’s Yellow Caravel, afterwards
rendered famous under the command of Sir Andrew
Wood in naval engagements with the English.”
The editor also states that in the ” Account of the
Chamberlain of Fife ” he had found another entry
concerning a delivery to John Barton, master of
the King’s Caravel, under date 1475. “This last
entry,” says an annotator, ” being deleted, however
shows that there must have been some mistake as
to whom the corn was delivered, John Barton being
probably sailing one of his own ships.

source-Old and New Edinburgh

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