The History of Leith

August 27, 2012

Adam Bothwell, Bishop of Orkney. and Byres’ Close,

Descending the High Street, after passing Bank
Street, to which we have already referred, there is
situated one of the most remarkable old edifices in
the city—the mansion of Adam Bothwell, Bishop
of Orkney. It stands at the foot of Byres’ Close,
so named from the house of Sir John Byres of
Coates, but is completely hidden from every point
save the back windows of the Daily Review office.
A doorway on the east side of the close gives access
to a handsome stone stair, guarded by a curved
balustrade, leading to a garden terrace that overlooked
the waters of the loch. Above this starts
abruptly up the north front of the house, semihexagonal
in form, surmounted by three elegantlycarved
dormer windows, having circular pediments,
and surmounted by a finial.
On one was inscribed Laus ubigite Deo ; on
another, Feliciter, infelix.
In this edifice (long used as a warehouse by
Messrs. Clapperton and Co.) dwelt Adam, Bishop
of Orkney, the same prelate who, at four in the
morning of the i5th of May, 1567, performed in
the chapel royal at Holyrood the fatal marriage
ceremony which gave Bothwell possession of theunfortunate
and then despairing Queen Mary.
He was a senator of the College of Justice, and
the royal letter in his favour bears, “Providing;
always ye find him able and qualified for administration
of justice, and conform to the acts and
statutes of the College.”
He married the unhappy queen after the
new forms, ” not with the mess, but with preachings,”
according to the ” Diurnal of Occurrents,”.in
the chapel; according to Keith and others, ” in
the great hall, where the Council usually met.”
But he seemed a pliable prelate where his own
interests were concerned; he was one of the first:
to desert his royal mistress, and, after her enforced
abdication, placed the crown upon the head of her
infant son ; and in 1568, according to the book of’
the ” Universal Kirk,” he bound himself to preach
a sermon in Holyrood, and therein to confess
publicly his offence in performing a marriage ceremony
for Bothwell and Mary.
As the name of the bishop was appended to that
infamous bond of adherence granted by the Scottish
nobles to Bothwell, before the latter put in practice
his ambitious schemes against his sovereign.

source-Old and Mew Edinburgh

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