History of Leith, Edinburgh

Archive for the ‘Featured Articles’ Category

Persons watching the dead in the Churchyard firing guns

Monday, November 25th, 2013

4th July 1745.—There being complaints of disturbance made in the night-time by persons watching the dead in the Churchyard firing guns and otherwise making great noise, the Session appoints their Officer when any apply for access into the Churchyard to watch their dead to intimate to them that they are prohibited to allow any to have or make use of firearms while watching whereby the neighbourhood is disburbed, And to certify those that apply that they must be answerable for any disturbance occasioned by their watching through firing guns or any indecent noise.
(Note.—The tombs in the churchyard still show relies of the times when body-snatching was a common practice of which the traditions still linger in old tales. Some of the large tombs are still completely encased in heavy iron bars, and many of the old grave-stones still bear the sockets or marks of the sockets which secured the bars of iron over the graves.)

source-South Leith Records

Graverobbing

Monday, November 25th, 2013

22nd July 1742.—This day George Car-kettle, grave-maker gave in a complaint against Robert Henderson, Custom House Porter in Leith and his Spouse bearing that upon the July instant, about 8 of the clock at night they came upon him in a furious manner and most basely abused and calumniate him alledging and affirming that he had sold and disposed of the corpse of their child which was buried about 3 weeks before and almost raised a mob and tumult upon him to the danger of his life and thereafter they broke into the Churchyard and at their own hand digged up the grave where their child was buried and opened up the coffin and found the corpse therein, Appoints the sd Robert Henderson and his Spouse to be cited to next Diet.

source-South Leith Records

The Indenture

Monday, November 25th, 2013

17th March 1743.—Reported that the Indenture was expede betwixt George Scott, Weaver in Danieltown and David Burton whereby the said David is bound to serve the space of 7 years and the Master is bound to teach him his trade to maintain him in bed, board, clothes and washing during that time, the Treasurer only furnishing him with one suit of clothes after this date.
(Note.—This David Burton was an orphan child for whom the Kirk Session had undertaken responsibility. The minute illustrates the old custom whereby an apprentice entered the household of his master who then became ” in loco parentis ” to him, not only teaching him his trade but bringing him up as one of his own family.)

Source-South Leith Records

The bluegowns-1706

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

The bluegowns had a general commission to beg. They were known as the King’s bedsmen, because the King annually distributed charity to them and they were expected to pray for him. Their number was equal to the years the King had lived and each year they received a new gown and badge.

source-South Leith Records

Gilbert Mathieson-1729

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

Gilbert Mathieson was a well-known person in his day. His father was Alex. Mathieson who built the meeting house in Cables Wynd, the old name of which was Mathieson’s Wynd ; the son was in 1715 made a third Bailie of Leith, a very unusual honour, as may be gathered from the terms of the appointment which are quoted in the ” Bailies of Leith.” The reference to the Abbey recalls an old chapter in Edinburgh history. An Act passed in 1696 declared that if an insolvent debtor should retire to the Abbey he should be holden and repute to be notour bankrupt, and this result had followed in the case of Gilbert Mathieson

source-South Leith Records

Leith and the Royal Infirmary

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

1st January 1730.—This day there was presented an Act of the General Assembly dated 15th May 1728 recommending a voluntary contribution for erecting an Infirmary or Hospital for Poor Sick people with an Act of the Magistrates and Town Council of Edinburgh appointing the said contribution to be made at the Church doors of the City and suburbs upon the second Sabbath of January instant. The Session delays the same till the Sacrament be over.
(Note.—This Minute recals the origin of the Infirmary in Edinburgh, the foundations of which were laid in 1738. The old Infirmary buildings may still be seen in Infirmary Street, which no doubt has its name from them. They have been devoted to other uses since the Infirmary was rebuilt at Laurigton. Amongst the steps taken to raise funds a petition was presented to the General Assembly for a voluntary subscription to be taken throughout the several parishes within their jurisdiction. South Leith Kirk Session apparently did not take the subject up until after two years, but South Leith was not the only dilatory parish.)

Source-South Leith Records

Broadside ballad concerning the terrible fate that awaits English pirates such as Captain Thomas Green

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

This report and ballad begins: ‘A Seasonable Advice, / TO ALL / who encline to go in Pirrating ; / DRAWN FROM / What has happ’ned to Captain Green, / as it were from his ovvn mouth, / One of that rank. / To the tune of, to the weaver if ye go, &c.’ The name of the publisher is not included. for more click here

Broadside regarding the execution of John Stewart

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

This execution notice begins: ‘THE LAST / SPEECH AND DYING WORDS, / Of John Stewart, who was executed within the Flood-Mark at Leith, upon the 4th January 1721, for the Crime of Piracy and Robbery.’ This sheet was published in Edinburgh, in 1727, by Robert Brown of Forrester’s Wynd. for more click here

Broadside ballad concerning the execution of Captain Thomas Green for piracy and murder

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

This report and ballad begins: ‘CAPTAIN / THOMAS GREEN’S / Last farewell to the OCEAN and all the world, who was Execute with two more of his Crew at Leith within the Flood-Mark, 11 April 1705, for Piracie and Murder.’ It seems the sheet was published in Edinburgh by someone called ‘G.J.’.for more click here

Broadside entitled ‘Copy of a letter from Michael M’Cabe’

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

This broadside begins: ‘Just published, an interesting Letter from Michael M’Cabe, now lying under Sentence of Death, on the Gaud, in the Calton Jail, addressed to Rebecca Hudson, Bell’s Wynd, his Sweetheart, which is published here by his own desire.’ It was published in 1833. for more click here

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