The History of Leith

August 24, 2012

The old barony of the Calton

On the north-western shoulder of the hill stands
the modern Established Church of Greenside, at
the end of the Royal Terrace, a conspicuous and
attractive feature among the few architectural
decorations of that district. Its tower rises l00 feet
above the porch, is twenty feet square, and contains
a bell of l0 cwt.
The main street of the old barony of the Calton
was named, from the ancient chapel which stood
there, St. Ninian’s Row, and a place so called
still exists; and the date and name ST. NINIAN’S
Row, 1752, yet remains on the ancient well. Of
old, the street named the High Calton, was known
as the Craig End.
In those days a body existed known as the.
High Constables of the Calton, but the new
Municipality Act having extinguished the ancient
boundaries of the city, the constabulary, in 1857,
adopted the following resolution, which is written
on vellum, to the Society of Antiquaries of
Scotland :—
” The district of Calton, or Caldton, formed at
one time part of the estate of the Elphinstone
family, one of whom—Sir James, third son of the
third Lord Elphinstone—was created Lord Balmerino
in 1603-4. In 1631 the then Lord
Balmerino granted a charter to the trades of
Calton, constituting them a society or corporation ;
and in 1669 a royal charter was obtained from
Charles II., erecting the district
into a burgh of
barony. A court was held by a bailie appointed
by the lord of the manor, and there was founded in
connection therewith, the Society of High Constables
of Calton, who have been elected by, and have
continued to act under, the orders of succeeding
Baron Bailies. Although no mention is made of
our various constabulary bodies in the ‘ Municipality
Extension Act, 1856,’ the venerable office
of Baron Bailie has thereby become extinct, and
the ancient burghs of Canongate, Calton, Eastern
and Western Portsburgh, are now annexed to the
city. Under these circumstances the constabulary
of Calton held an extraordinary meeting on the
I7th of March, 1857, at which, inter alia, the
following motion was carried with acclamation, viz.:
‘ That the burgh having ceased to exist, the constabulary,
in order that some of the relics and |
other insignia belonging to this body should be
preserved for the inspection of future generations,
unanimously resolve to present as a free gift to the
Royal Society of Antiquaries of Scotland the
following, viz :—Constabulary baton, 1747, moderator’s
official baton, marble bowl, moderator’?
state staff, silver-mounted horn with fourteen
medals, members’ small baton; report on the
origin and standing of the High Constables of
Calton, 1855, and the laws of the society, 1847.'”
These relics of the defunct little burgh are
consequently now preserved at the museum in the
Royal Institution.

Source-Old and New Edinburgh

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