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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. I


I02 OLD AYD NEW EDINBURGH. [The Lawnmarket. Duke of York and Mrs. Mary Anne Clarke made some noise in London during the time of the Regency. The house below those occupied by Hume and by Boswell was the property and residence of Andrew Macdowal of Logan, author of the ? Institutional Law of Scotland,? afterwards elevated to the bench, in 1755, as Lord Bankton. In another court named Paterson?s, opening on the Lawnmarket, Margaret Countess Dowager of Glasgow was resident in 1761, and for some years before it Her husband, the second ead, died in 1740. One of the handsomest old houses still existing in the Lawnmarket is the tall and narrow tenement of polished ashlar adjoining Tames?s Court. It is of a marked character, and highly adorned. Of old it belonged to Sir Robert Bannatyne, but in 1631 was acquired by Thomas Gladstone, a merchant burgess, and on the western gable are the initials of himself and wife. In 1634, when the city was divided for the formation of sixteen companies, in obedience to an injunction of Charles I., the second division was ordered to terminate at ?? Thomas Gladstone?s Land,? on the north side of the street. In 1771 a dangerous fire occurred in the Lawnmarket, near the head of the old Bank Close. It was fidt?discovered by the flames bursting through the roof of a tall tenement known as Buchanan?s. It baffled the efforts of three fire-engines and a number of workmen, and some soldiers of the 22nd regiment. It lasted a whole night, and created the greatest consternation and some loss of life. ?The new church and weigh-house were opened during the fire,? says the Scots Magazine of 1771, ?for the reception of the goods and furniture belonging to the sufferers and the inhabitants of the adjacent buildings, which were kept under guard.? Damage to the extent of several thousand pounds was done, and among those who suffered appear the names of General Lockhart of Carnwath ; Islay Campbell, advocate ; John Bell, W.S. ; and Hume d .Ninewells; thus giving a sample.of those who still abode in the Lawnmarket. CHAPTER XI. , THE LAWNMARKET (continued). Lady Stair?s Close-Gay or Pittendrum-e?Aunt Margarct?s Mmor?--The Marshal h l and Countess of Stair-Mm Femer-Sir Richard Stcele-Martha Countess of Kincardine-Burns?s Room in Baxter?s Close-The Bridges? Shop in Bank Street-Bailie MacMonm?s PRIOR to the opening of Bank Street, Lady Stair?s Close, the first below Gladstone?s Land, was the chief thoroughfare for foot passengers, taking advantage of the half-formed Earthen Mound to reach the New Town. It takes its name from Elizabeth Countess Dowager of Stair, who was long looked up to as a leader of fashion in Edinburgh, admission to her select circle being one of the highest objects of ambition among the lesser gentry of her day, when the distinctions of rank and family were guarded with an angry jealousy of which we have but little conception now. Lady Stair?s Close is narrow and dark, for the houses are of great height ; the house she occupied still remains on the west side thereof, and was the scene of some romantic events and traditions, of which Scott made able use. in his ?Aunt Margaret?s Mirror,? ere it became the abode of the widow of the Marshal Earl of Stair, who, when a little boy, had the misfortune to kill his elder brother, the Master, by the accidental discharge of a pistol; after which, it is said, that his mother could never abide him, and sent him . in his extreme youth to serve in Flanders as a volunteer in the Cameronian Regiment,.under the Earl of Angus. The house occupied by Lady Stair has oyer its door the pious legend- ? Feare the Lord and depart from cuiZZ,? with the date 1622, and the initials of its founder and of his wifeSir Wiiam Gray of Pittendrum, and Egidia Smith, daughter of Sir John Smith, of Grothall, near Craigleith, Provost of Edinburgh in 1643. Sir William was a man of great influence in the time of Charles I. ; and though the ancient title of Lord Gray reverted to his family, he devoted himself to commerce, and became one of the wealthiest Scottish merchants of that age. But troubles came upon him; he was fined IOO,OOO merks for corresponding with Montrose, and was imprisoned, first in the Castle and then in the Tolbooth till the mitigated penalty of 35,000 merks was paid. Other exorbitant exactions followed, and these hastened his death, which took place in 1648. Three years before that event, his daughter
Volume 1 Page 102
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