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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. I


Parliament Claw. One of the shops next to the jeweller?s was, about the middle of last century, a tavern, kept by the famous Peter Williamson, the returned Palatine (as the boys abducted from Aberdeen were called) who designated himself on his signboard as ?from the other world.? Here the magistrates partook of the Deid-chack-a dinner at the expense of the city-after having attended an execution, a practice abolished by Lord Provost Creech. In 1685 an Exchange was erected in the Parliament Close. It had a range .of piazzas for the accommodation of merchants transact- <ing business ; but by sold use and wont, attached as they were to the more ancient place of meeting, the ,Cross, this convenience was scarcely ever used by them. In 1685 the equestrian statue of Charles TI., a well-executed work in lead, was erected in the Parliament Close, not far from its present site, where one intended for Cromwell was to have been placed ; but the Restoration changed .the political face of Edinburgh. In the accounts of George Drummond, City Treasurer, I 684-5, it of the royal birthday are worthy of remembrance, as being perhaps amongst the most long-cherished customs of the people ere- ?? The times were changed, old manners gone, And a stranger filled the Stuart?s throne.? It was usual on this annual festival to have a public breakfast in the great hall, when tables, at the expense of the city, were covered with wines and confections, and the sovereign?s health was drunk with acclaim, the volleys of the Town Guard made the tall mansions re-echo, and the statue of King Charles wasdecorated with laurel leaves by the Add CaZZants, as the boys of Heriot?s Hospital were named, and who claimed this duty as a prescriptive right. The Bank of Scotland, incorporated by royal charter in 1695, first opened for business in a flat, or $%or, of the Parliament Close, with a moderate staff of clerks, and a paid-up capital of only ten thousand pounds ster- Zing. The smallest share which qny person could hold in this bank was LI,OOO Scots, and the largest SIR WILLIAM FORBES, C ? PITSLLGO. (AfierKuy.) appears thatthe king?s statue was erected by the provost, magistrates, and council, at the cost of A;z,580 Scots, the bill for which seems to have come from Rotterdam. On the Jast destruction of the old Parliament Close, by a fire yet to be recorded, thc statue was conveyed for .safety to the yard of the Calton Gaol, where it lay for some years, till the present pedestal was erected, in which are inserted two marble tablets, which had been preserved among some lumber under the Parliament House, and, from the somewhat fulsome inscriptions thereon, seem to have belonged to the first pedestal. Among the more homely associations of the Parliament Close, the festivities j6z0,ooo of the same money. To lend money on heritable bonds and other securities was the chief business of the infant bank. The giving of bills of exchange-the great business of private bankers-was, after much deliberation, tried by the ? adventurers,? with aview to the extension of business as far as possible. In pursuance of this object, and to circulate their notes through the realm, branch ofices were opened at Glasgow, Dundee, Montrose, and Aberdeen, to receive and pay out money, in the form of inland exchange, by notes and bills. But eventually the directors ?found that the exchange trade was not proper for a banking company,?
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Parliament Close.] BANK OF SCOTLAND. ?77 which they conceived to be more properly intended ? as a common repository of the nation?s cash-a ready fund for affording credit and loans, and for making receipts and payments of money easy by the company?s notes.? But, as dealing in hours for business, and establishing rules and regulations, which will never answer the management of the exchange trade.? Ere long the bank, we are told (in ?Domestic Annals of Scotland?), found it impossible to s u p RUINS IN THE OLD MARKET CLOSE AFTER THE GREAT FIRE OF NOVEMBER, 1824. (Fwm an Efding plr6lzihfat 1A.e time.) exchange interfered with private trade, the new Bank of Scotland deemed it troublesome and improper. ? There was much to be done in that business without doors, by day and night, without such variety of circumstances and conditions as are inconsistent with the precise hours of a public office and the rules and regulations of a wellgoverned company; and no company like the Bank can be managed without fixing stated office- 23 port the four provincial branches, as they did not contribute to the ends in view ; ? for the money that was once lodged in any of these places by the cashiers issuing bills payable at Edinburgh, could not be redrawn thence 6y bills from EdinbuTh; ?I of course, because of there being so little owing then to persons resident in the provinces. SO, after considerable outlay in trying the branch offices, the directors ordered them to be closed, and
Volume 1 Page 177
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