The History of Leith

July 7, 2012

The petty customs

The mediaeval laws that made all overseas trade a monopoly
of the merchants of royal burghs can only be understood
when we remember how heavy was the price paid
for those special privileges enjoyed by free burghs like
Edinburgh, in which the inhabitants of all other burghs
and unfree towns like Leith bore no share. The jealous
way in which Edinburgh guarded its privileges against
any encroachment on the part of the unfreemen of Leith
shows how burdensome the royal burghs felt the cost
at which these privileges were obtained. It was to meet
the heavy charges laid on them by the king in return
for the many rights and privileges gifted to them by
royal charters that no ” pakking or peiling ” was permitted
in Leith, and that all ships’ cargoes had to be
taken to Edinburgh as soon as they were landed on the
Shore, and be disposed of at the City Cross. For all
goods on entering the city gates, or on being weighed
at the ” tron ” or public weighing beam just within,
had to pay toll and dues.
These were called the petty customs, and went to
the common good of the burgh. From these petty customs,-
their chief source of revenue—for there were no
taxes then as we understand them to-day—the city
paid very largely the financial burdens laid on the
good town by the king

source-Old and New Edinburgh

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