The History of Leith

December 8, 2012

The town of Leith in the far-off times

The town of Leith in the far-off times of which we
are now speaking—the closing years of the fourteenth
century—was owned by three feudal superiors : the
king, the Laird of Restalrig, and the Abbot of Holyrood.
Edinburgh’s first possessions in Leith were, of
course, those of the harbour and mills gifted to her by
royal charter at some period of that golden age of Scotland’s
history extending from the reign of David I. to
the death of Alexander III.—that is, between 1124 and
1286. Mills, owing to the large revenue’ derived from
them, were among the most valuable of an overlord’s
possessions. They were as prominent a feature in the
Leith of the fourteenth century as they are to-day, for
both the Laird of Restalrig and the Abbot of Holyrood
had mills in Leith as well as the Town Council of Edinburgh.
No barony, indeed, was then without its mill.
Though in later years we find windmills as well, those
in Leith at this time were all driven by water power,
and were therefore situated somewhere by the banks of
the Water of Leith ; but their exact location, except in
the case of one or two which were owned by the Laird
of Restalrig, is unknown to-day. Bonnington Mills,
which we find a possession of Holyrood from their earliest
record, perhaps supplied the needs of the abbot’s lands
of North Leith as well as those of more outlying parts.
The mills of the Laird of Restalrig, specifically known as
Leith Mills, were sold to the city of Edinburgh in 1722
by Lord Balmerino.

source-The Story of Leith

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