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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. II


298 OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [St. Mary?s Wynd. the maintenance of the beads-+eople of that hospital ; and every person who refused to collect thus, was fined forty pence Scots, for the use of the poor. At this period the chaplain?s salary was only six shillings and eightpence per annum. Spottiswoode tells us that in the chartularies of St. Giles, ?the nuns of St. Mary?s Wynd, in the city of Edinburgh, are recorded,? and in the statutes of the burgh, enacted during a terrible plague in 15~0, a reference to the chapel is made in the case of Marion Clerk, who was convicted by an assize of concealing her infection, and attending, with many others, mass in ?? the chapell of Sanct Mary Wynd, on Sonday,? and thereby risking the safety of all. For this crime the poor woman was ordained to suffer death by drowning at the Quarry Holes, near the east end of the Calton Hill. In 1562 great excitement was occasioned in the city by an act of violence perpetrated by the notorious Earl of Bothwell, who, with the aid of the Marquis d?Elbeuf, Lord John of Coldinghame, and other wild spirits, broke up the doors of Cuthbert Ramsay?s house in St. Mary?s Wynd one night, while searching, sword in hand, for his daughterin- law, Alison Craig, a celebrated courtesan, who, though living under the protection of ?? the godly Er1 of Arrane,? as Knox records in very coarse language, yet contrived to be on very good terms with other nobles who were his avowed enemies. A strong remonstrance was presented to the Queen on this subject, beseeching her to punish the perpetrators ; but as that was no easy matter, the brawl was hushed up, and, thus emboldened, Both. well and other gallants proceeded to play wildei pranks in the streets during the night, till Gavin Hamilton, Abbot of Kilwinning, who had joined the Reformation party, resolved to curb thell violence by the strodg hand. According to the his tories of Knox and Keith, he armed all his followers. sallied forth to oppose the revellers, and a seriour conflict ensued in the street, between the Crosr and Tron. Crossbow bolts and hackbut shots fie\\ far and near, while the alarm-bells summoned thc burghers to ?the redding of the fray,? and riva leaders came sallying forth as hate or humour lec them, to join in the riot ; till the Earls of Murraj and Huntley, who were then residing at Holyrood by order of the Queen, marched up the Canongatt with all the armed men they could muster, anc crushed the tumult. Bothwell afterwards, by thc mediation of Knox, effected a reconciliation witlthe Earl of Arran, the Abbot of Kilwinning, anc others who were his enemies. In the subsequent conflicts of 1572, the house? in Leith Wynd and St. Mary?s Wynd were unroofed . nd all the doors and windows of those on the west ide of the latter were built up, among other prejarations made by Sir William Kirkaldy to defend he town against the king?s men. At a still later Late in the same year all the houses at the head if each of those wynds were ?tane doun,? and 10 doubt on this occasion the chapel of St. Mary vould be ruined and dismantled with the rest. Again in 1650, when preparations were made to lefend the city against Cromwell, Nicoll records n his quaint diary, that the magistrates demolished ill the houses ?? in St. Marie Wynd, that the enymie ould haif no schelter thair,? and that the cannon nounted on the Netherbow might?have free pas- ?age for their shot. At the foot of the wynd was situated the Cow- ;ate Port, a city gate constructed as a portion of he second wall in 1513. At a subsequent date tnother was erected across the wynd, at its junction Kith the Pleasance; it figures in Rothiemay?s map as he Portaplatea Sancte Marie, a large arched buildng with gables at each end, and in Gordon?s day t was seldom without the head, hands, or quarters if some unfortunate, such as Garnock and other Zovenanters, displayed on its spike?. On the approach of the Highlanders in 1715, it was demolished, the citizens believing themselves unable to defend it; but a portion of its wall, with one rusty spike thereon, remained until 1837,when it was removed to make way for a new Heriot?s school. The whole alley was long, and until quite recently a species of great Rag Fair, where all manner of cast-off garments were exposed for sale, the walls literally appearing to be clothed with them from end to end. In a house which had its entrance from the east side of the wynd, but the windows of which opened to the Canongate, there long resided two maiden ladies of the now extinct house of Traquair-the Ladies Barbara and Margaret Stuart-twin sisters, the children of Charles fourth Earl of Traquair (who died in 1741), and his Countess, Mary Maxwell, of the noble house of Nithsdale. The last of these two, Lady Barbara, died on the 15th of December, 1794, and they were among some of the last of note who lingered in the Old Town. ? They drew out their innocent lives in this place,? says Robert Chambers, ?where latterly one of their favourite amusements was to make dolls, and little beds for them to lie on-a practice not quite uncommon in days long gone by, being to some degree followed by Queen Mary.? In the tenement opposite the site of SL Mary?s chapel, on the east side of the wynd, and forming the portion of it that led into Boyd?s Close, there
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St. Mary?s Wynd.1 THE ? WHITE HORSE? INN. 299 long dwelt the celebrated artistic decorator of many of the best old houses in Edinburgh, John Norrie, whose workshop adjoined the coach-house of Lord Milton, and both of which were converted into stables for Boyd?s famous old ?White Horse ? Inn, one of the great hostelries of Edinburgh, in the days when ?? hotels? were unknown, and when guests, except those whose business was of a very temporary nature, usually repaired to lodging-houses, of which the most famous in 1754 was Mrs. Thomson?s at the Cross, who, as per advertisement, served people who had not their own silver plate, tea china, table china, and tea linen, with all these luxuries, together with wines and spirits. When the famous patriot chief, Pasquale de Paoli, had been driven into exile by the French invaders of Corsica, among other places in his wanderings he came to Edinburgh in the autumn of 177 I, accompanied by the Polish Ambassador, Count Burzyuski; and on the 3rd of September they arrived at Peter Ramsay?s ? White Horse ?I Inn, in St. Mary?s Wynd, from whence he was immediately taken home by Boswell to his house in James?s Court, while the Count became the guest of his neighbour, Dr. John Gregory, ?to whom they brought a letter from the ingenious Mrs. Montague.? Boswell introduced Paoli to Lord Kames, Dr. Robertson, David Hume, and others, who though greatly his seniors, admitted him into their circle, and he showed him over the Castle, Holyrood, Duddingston, and other places. Ramsay?s inn was chiefly famous for its stables, and in that establishment he realised a large fortune. In I 776 he advertised that, exclusive of some part of his premises recently offered for sale, he possessed ? a good house for entertainment, good stables for above one hundred horses, and sheds for above twenty carriages.? He retired from business in St. Mary?s Wynd in 1790, with above LIO,OOO, according to one account, and his death is thus recorded in the ?Scottish Register.? ?Jan. I, 1794. At his son?s house of Gogar, Co. Edinburgh, Peter Ramsay, Esq., formerly an eminent innkeeper at the Cowgate Port, in which station he acquired upwards of ~ 3 0 , 0 0 0 . He has left one son, William Ramsay, jun., Esq., banker in Edinburgh, and one daughter, the widow of Captain Mansfield, of the South Fencible Regiment, who lost his life at Leith in 1779, when attempting to quell a mutiny.? Eoyd?s Close, or the White Horse Close, as it was often called, opened into Boyd?s Entry from St. Mary?s Wynd. The inn there was more modern, and was larger than Ramsay?s, but had, like his, the principal rooms above the stables ; and at this White Horse? it was that Dr. Johnson, on arriving at Edinburgh on the 17th of August, 1773, put up, and from whence he sent his curt note to Boswel1:- ?( Saturday night :-<? Mr. Johnson sends his compliments to Mr. Boswell, being just arrived at Boyd?s.? And here it was, as we have related, that Boswell found him storming at the waiter, when he and William Scott, afterwards Lord Stowell, repaired thither, and received an instalment of that domineering manner which excited the aristocratic contempt that old Lord Auchinleck so freely expressed for ?? the dominie the auld English dominie, that keepit a schule and ca?ad it an acaademy.? In Boyd?s ?? White Horse Inn ? one particularly large room was the scene of many a marriage between runaway English couples ; and on a window, written with a diamond, were long to be seen the remarkable names of Jeremiah and Sarah Bmtham, I 768. ? James Eoyd, the keeper of this inn, was addicted to horse racing, and his victories on the turf, or rather on Leith sands, are frequently chronicled in journals of that day. It is said that he was one time on the brink of ruin, when he was saved by a lucky run with a white horse, which in gratitude he kept idle all the rest of its days, besides setting up its portrait as his sign. He eventually retired from this ? dirty and dismal? inn with a fortune of several thousand pounds ; and, as a curious note upon the impression which its slovenliness conveyed to Dr. Johnson, it may be stated as a fact, well authenticated, that, at the time of his giving up the house he possessed napery to the value of five hundred pounds.? St. Mary?s Wynd was, in 1869, the first scene of the operations of the trustees who acted under the Improvement Act of 1867, when they commenced to pull down the buildings between it and Gullan?s Close, in the Canongate. By this time it had become one of the most wretched slums in the city, a narrow and stifling alley, to navigate the intricacies of which required some courage. I t was scarcely possible to avoid coming in contact with cast-off apparel of all kinds, or stumbling against piles of old boots, pots, pans, and furniture. Under designs furnished for the upper part by the late David Cousin, who for many years occupied an important official post in connection with the municipality, and for the lower part by Mr. Lessels, another architect, the wynd has now become a
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