The History of Leith

November 10, 2012

Endeavours to make Scotland a power on the sea

IN his endeavours to make Scotland a power on the sea
James IV. was ably seconded by the sailormen of Leith.
The number of noted sea-captains belonging to the Port
at this time was out of all proportion to its size. This
was owing to Leith being the port, not only for the larger
town of Edinburgh, but also, now that Berwick had
become an English town, for the whole south-east of
Scotland, and especially for the wool trade of the great
Border abbeys. Then, again, commerce was the monopoly
in those days of the freemen of the royal burghs
only, so that in an unfree town like Leith sailoring was
the occupation that offered the greatest opportunities
of wealth and advancement to lads of push and enterprise.
In no other port of Europe at this time of equal
size could there have been found more daring captains,
and few could have rivalled Leith in her number of bold
and skilful mariners, for seafaring was in their blood.
It had been the occupation of the men folk of many
Leith families through long generations, and even in our
days of steamships, when the sailorman is degenerating
into the mere deck hand, there are still a few families
in the town with whom seafaring has been a tradition
for centuries.

source-The Story of Leith (1922)

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