The History of Leith

October 19, 2012

The Seige of Edinburgh Castle

MARY escaped from Lochleven on the 2nd of May,
1568, and after her defeat fled to England, the
last country in Europe, as events showed, wherein
she should have sought refuge or hospitality.
After the assassination of the Regent Moray, to
his successor, the Regent Morton, fell the task of
subduing all who lingered in arms for the exiled
queen ; and so well did he succeed in this, that,
save the eleven acres covered by the Castle rock :
of Edinburgh, which was held for three years by
Sir William Kirkaldy of Grange with a garrison
resolute as himself, the whole country was now
under his rule.
Kirkaldy, whose services in France and elsewhere
had won him the high reputation of being
” the bravest soldier in Europe,” left nothing un- ;
done, amid the unsettled state of affairs, to :
strengthen his post. He raised and trained soldiers ,
without opposition, seized all the provisions that
were brought into Leith, and garrisoned St. Giles’s
church, into the open spire of which he swung
up cannon to keep the citizens in awe. This was
on the 28th of March, 1571. After the Duke of
Chatelherault, with his Hamiltons—all queen’s men
—marched in on the ist of May, the gables of
the church were loopholed for arquebuses. Immediate
means were taken to defend the town
against the Regent. Troops crowded into it; others
were mustered for its protection, and this state
of affairs continued for fully three years, during
successive Regents, till Morton was fain to seek aid
from Elizabeth, to wrench from her helpless refugee
the last strength that remained to her; and most
readily did the English queen agree thereto.
A truce which, had been made between Morton
and Kirkaldy expired on the ist of January, 1573,
| and as the church bells tolled six in the morning, the
Castle guns, among which were two 48-pounders,
French battardes, and English culverins or 18-
pounders (according to the ” Memoirs of Kirkaldy”),
; opened on the city in the dark. It was then full
of adherents of James VI., so Kirkaldy cared not
j where his shot fell, after the warning gun had been
previously discharged, that all loyal subjects of
the queen should retire. As the ‘grey winter dawn
stole in, over spire and pointed roof, the cannonade
was chiefly directed from the eastern curtain
against the new Fish Market; the baskets in
which were beaten so high in the air, that for days
after their contents were seen scattered on the tops
of the highest houses. In one place a single shot
killed five persons and wounded twenty others.
Selecting a night when the wind was high and
blowing eastward, Kirkaldy made a sally, and set
on fire all the thatched houses in West Port and
Castle Wynd, cannonading the while the unfortunates
who strove to quench the flames that rolled
away towards the east. In March Kirkaldy resolutely
declined to come to terms with Morton, though
earnestly besought to do so by Henry Killigrew,
who came ostensibly as an English envoy, but in
reality as a spy from Elizabeth. ” He was next
visited, in a pretended friendly manner, by Sir
William Drury, Elizabeth’s Marshal of Berwick,
the same who built Drury House in Wych Street,
London, and who fell in a duel with Sir John
Burroughs about precedence, and from whom
Drury Lane takes its name.

source-Old and New Edinburgh

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