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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. I


i.e., the Tolbooth; others were held there in 1449 and 1459. In the latter the Scottish word ?Tolbooth,? meaning a tax-house, occurs for the first time ; ?Hence,? says Wilson, ? a much older, and probably larger erection must therefore have existed on the site of the western portion of the Tolbooth, the ruinous state of which led to the royal command for its demolition in 1561-not a century after the date we are disposed to assign to the oldest portion of the building that remained till 1817, and which, though decayed and time-worn, was so far from being ruinous even then, that it proved a work of great labour to demolish its solid masonry.? In the ?Diurnal of Occurrents,? it is recorded that in 1571 ?the tour of the add TuZbuyth was tane doun.? The ornamental north gable of the Tolbooth was never seen without a human head stuck thereon in ?the good old times,? In 1581. ?the prick on the highest stone? bore the head of the Regent Morton, in 1650 the head of the gallant Montrose, till ten years subsequently it was replaced by that of his enemy Argyle. In 1561 the Tolbooth figures in one of those tulzies or rows so common in the Edinburgh of those days ; but in this particular instance we see a distinct foreshadowing of the Porteous mob of the eighteenth century, by the magistrates forbidding a I? Robin Hood.? This was the darling May game of Scotland as well as England, and, under the pretence offrolic, gave an unusual degree of licence; but the Scottish Calvinistic clergy, with John Knox ? at their head, and backed by the authority of the magistrates of Edinburgh, who had of late been chosen exclusively from that party, found it impossible to control the rage of the populace when deprived of the privilege of having a Robin Hood, with the Abbot of Unreason and the Queen of the May.( Thus it czme to pass, that in May, 1561, when a man in Edinburgh was chosen as ? Robin Hood and Lord of Inobedience,? most probably because he was a frolicsome, witty, and popular fellow, and passed through the city with a great number of followers, noisily, and armed, with a banner displayed, to the Castle Hill, the magistrates caught one of his companions, ? a cordiner?s servant,? named Janies Gillon, whom they condemned to be hanged on the z ~ s t of July. On that day, as he was to be conveyed to the gibbet, it was set up with the ladder against it in the usual fashion, when the craftsmen rushed into the streets, clad in their armour, with spears, axes, and hand-guns. They seized the Provost by main force of arms, together with two Bailies, David Symmer and Adam Fullarton, and thrusting them into Alexander Guthrie?s writing booth, left them there under a. guard. The rest marched to the cross, broke the gibbet to pieces, and beating in the doors of the Tolbooth with sledge-hammers, under the eyes of the magistrates, who were warded close by, they brought forth the prisoner, whom they conveyed ic~ triumph down the street to the Nether Bow Port. . Finding the latter closed, they passed up the street again. By this time the magistrates had taken shelter in the Tolbooth, from whence one,of them fired a pistol and wounded one of the mob. ?That being done,? says the Diurnal of Occurrents, ? there was naething but tak and day! that is, the one part shooting forth and casting stones, the other part shooting hagbuts in again, and sae the craftsmen?s servants held them (conducted themselves) continually frae three hours afternoon, while (till) aucht at even, and never ane man of the toun steirit to defend their provost and bailies.? The former, who was Thomas Maccakean, of Clifton Hall, contrived to open a communication with the constable of the Castle, who came with an armed party to act as umpire ; and through that officer it was arranged ?that the provost and bailies should discharge all manner of actions whilk they had against the said crafts-childer in ony time bygone ;? and this being done and proclaimed, the armed trades peacefully disbanded, and the magistrates were permitted to leave the Tolbooth. In 1539 the sixth Parliament of James VI. met there. The Estates rode through the streets; ? the crown was borne before his Majesty by Archibald Earl of Angus, the sceptre by Colin Earl of Argyle, Chancellor, and the sword of honour, by Robert Earl of Lennox.? Moyse adds, when the Parliament was dissolved, twelve days after, the king again rode thither in state. In 1581 Morton was tried and convicted in the hall for the murder of Darnley ; the King?s Advocate on that occasion was Robert Crichton of Elliock, father of the ?? Admirable Crichton.? Caldenvood records some curious instances of the king?s imbecility among his fierce and turbulent couttiers. On January 7th, 1590, when he was coming down the High Street from the Tolbooth, where he had been administering justice, two of his attendants, Lodovick Duke of Lennox (hereditary High Admiral and Great Chamberlain), and Alexander Lord Home, meeting the Laird of Logie, with whom they had a quarrel, though he was valet of the royal chamber, attacked him sword in hand, to the alarm of James, who retired into an adjacent close ; and six days after, when he
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