The History of Leith

September 17, 2012

On the site of the present Melbourne Place

Here, on the site of
the present Melbourne
Place, stood a famous old
mansion, almost unique
even in Edinburgh,
named Robert Gourlay’s
House, with the legend,
above its door, “O Lord
in the is al my traist
1569”; and it is somewhat
singular that the owner
of this house was neither
a man of rank nor of
wealth, but simply a messenger-
at-arms belonging
to the Abbey of Holyrood,
an office bestowed upon
him by the Commendator,
Adam Bothwell,
Bishop of Orkney. In
1574 Robert Gourlay
was an elder of the kirk,
and in that year had
to do his public penance
therein “for transporting
wheat out of the countrie.”
In 1581, when the Regent
Morton was about to
suffer death, he was placed in Gourlay’s house
for two days under a guard; and there it was
that those remarkable conferences took place
between,, him and certain clergymen, in which,
while protesting his innocence of the murder of
Darnley, he admitted his foreknowledge of it.
Among many popular errors, is one that he invented
the “maiden” by which he suffered; but it
is now known to have been the common Scottish
guillotine, sincasfThomas Scott was beheaded by it
on the 3rd of April, 1566.

source-Old and New Edinburgh

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