History of Leith, Edinburgh

Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014



Wednesday, February 19th, 2014



Wednesday, February 19th, 2014



Wednesday, February 19th, 2014


Wednesday, February 19th, 2014


14 Day Free Trial

Ye guidma of Coatfeild

Friday, February 14th, 2014

24 of July 1612.—The Sessioune vpoun ye honest requeist of ye guidma of Coatfeild of ane buriall place to his wyf, hes granted him libertie to bige ane tombe ye breid of four kists of ye wall, and not to be ane proper place to any wther but only to be ane heritable buriall place to him and his prosteritie in all tyme cominge and gives to ye poore the soume of …
(Note.—The “guidman” of Coatfield was Andrew Logan, a branch of the Logans of Restalrig. His family had been lairds of Coatfield since 1470, in which year Patrick Logan of Coatfield was Baillie of Leith.)

Source-South Leith Records

The Warlock Laird

Friday, February 14th, 2014

The Yardheads originally was the boundary wall or monastic Garth of the Preceptory of St Anthony. but by the time of the story of the Warlock the area had a few scattered cottages, Now in one of these cottages lived a Anthony Gordon and his cottage was exactly the same as all the others in the area except between the back of the cottage and resting on the Garden wall was a tower over fifty feet high with little turrets stuck to it. Unfortunately the building has been demolished which is a pity because it was a remarkable building of its type.

Anthony Gordon came to Leith late in life but nobody was ever able to find out where he came from. On arriving in Leith he began work as a coopers labourer on a very low wage but he worked quietly away until after six months he asked if he could go on holiday for a week and this being granted he disappeared and came back a week later better dressed, fed and with the clink of money in his pockets. The following year again he asked for a weeks holiday and again he came back richer then before. Not only this but he bought a large house in the Rotten Row and this got people talking. One story was that he had been a pirate and he was drawing on a concealed horde the result of many crimes. So when Gordon asked for his annual leave the following year he was followed to see where he went. At first he went drinking in Kirkcaldy and had a party and then Gordon just loitered in the town talking to the boatmen. Eventually he took a boat and he was followed and the trail ended near North Berwick at Dirleton and it was at this point that the Leith Detective saw an amazing sight of what looked like two giants digging into the ground. At least this was the report and Gordon’s return was anticipated with some curiosity and in time he duly returned and handed in his notice to the Cooper. He then bought all the buildings in the Broad Wynd and people whispered he wasn’t a pirate but had sold his soul to the devil.

The fear was real and people wanted to give up their tenancies but then withdraw their applications because of the shortage of property. It was at this point that Anthony Gordon was seen with a tall, dark man who said nothing but seemed to control everything that Gordon did. It is not known who this man was however the pair really caused as much trouble as was possible for their tenants. Eventually the poor tenants came to the tower in Yardheads to pay there rent and were ushered into a large room. When suddenly Gordon rushed in pursued by the dark stranger and dragged into another room and screams were heard. The tenants took to their heals in fright and ran. They later testified to smelling sulphur and that they saw Gordon being dragged into a hole in the ground which then sealed itself. The Tower itself had collapsed and whatever happened to Gordon he was never again seen in Leith. It was believed for many years that he had indeed sold his soul to the devil and at the end wasn’t able to escape the dreadful bargain.

The ghostly Cooper

Friday, February 14th, 2014

The Town of Leith has many strange and ghostly tales connected to it and the strangest is the story of the Ghostly cooper.

If you travel back in time several centuries you will find a completely different Leith. Opposite the Church of St Mary’s (or South Leith parish Church as it is now) stood the massive Preceptory of St Anthony.

Now the monks of the Preceotory were entlted to a scots quart ( a imperial English Gallon) out of every tun of wine coming into leith. They could use it as they wished or they could sell the rest to help the poor.

Considering Leith was the largest importer of wine outside of London there stock of wine was very large and kept in wine vaults.

Now one of the jobs connected to the the vaults was the employment of a cooper making and repairing casks

Now after a time the monk who kept the accounts of the preceptory found that a great deal of wine was missing and suspicion fell on the cooper Henry Douglas. But when questioned he said he knew nothing about.

That was how things stood until the hermit of St Anthony paid a visit to the preceptory. He was told about the missing wine and he decided to question the cooper. Again the cooper denied everything. But the hermit wouldn’t accept that. Henry Douglas in his anger said “I don’t know anything about it, I swear I know nothing. And if I am telling a lie, may I never head this cask. The hermit looked at him and said amen, and may it please holy St Anthony to grant your prayer. The words hardly out of his month when the cask he was working on feel apart and in a panic he ran into the furthest part of the great vault and was never seen again

However the tap,tap, taping of hammer was heard and then a groan was heard by the monks when they visited the vaults and for many, many years the Ghostly cooper could be heard. Although there has been no reports recently he could still be there.

Education in 1610

Friday, February 14th, 2014

6 May 1610.—Mr Thomas Barclay is re-quisted to send his servant to Aberdene for ane man to be reader and musicianer, and the Session orders him to have twelf pound for his expensis. Siclyk the minister is desyred to yryt for a mr. (i.e., master).
(Note. —The Kirk Session had the duty of providing for education in the Parish as the School Boards now have. There were two schools, viz., a grammar school, and a vulgar or music school. The former was taught by a master, the latter by the Reader or Session Clerk.)

Source-South Leith Records

Scots money

Friday, February 14th, 2014

Julij Hth 1609.—Ressavit of pure silver frae William Sinclair … 1 lib 13s. 4d. for the repairing frae Thomas Harley, 4 lib. 4s. Visitors for the next day David Jamesone Younger and William Bickartoune for the repairing William Gibson.
(Note.—Lib is pounds. The money referred to is , value only one-twelfth part of sterling money. The visitors collected for the poor and for the fabric of the church. The Kirk Session had the duty of providing for the poor as the Parish Council now have.)

Source-South Leith Records

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