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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. II


I94 OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [High Street. especially to the removal of the numerous middens, the repair of the roads and streets, and also the expected hospitality of the city, as we find that soon after the inhabitants were assessed to support the queen and her retinue till Holyrood Palace was prepared to receive her. They were also compelled +o defray their proportion of the expense of his return. Five years before this, in 1584, to prevent the incessant broils and riots that took place in High Street and elsewhere at night, it was enacted thai by ten o?clock forty strokes should be given on the great bell, after which any person found abroad wa: to be imprisoned during the magistrate?s pleasure, and fined forty shillings Scots ; while for the bettei regulation of the nightly watch the city was divided into thirty quarters, over each of which the magis. trates appointed two commanders, one a merchant, the other a craftsman, as also an officer to summon the citizens occasionally to take into consideration the affairs connected with these several divisions. (Council Register.) And now to glance briefly at the tdziex, or combats, for so were they named of old, of which the High Street has been the scene. Apart from the famous brawl named ?Cleanse the Causeway,? already described, and that in which the Laird of Stainhouse fell with the French in 1560, a considerable amount of blood has been shed in this old thoroughfare. After the battle of Melrose, in 1526, there ensued a deadly feud between the border clans of Scott and Ken; which culminated in the slaughter of Sir Walter Scott of Branxholm and Buccleuch, by the Kerrs, in October, 1551, in the High Street. ?? Bards long shall tell How Lord Walter fell ! When startled burghers fled afar, The furies of the Border war, When the streets of High Dunedin Saw lances gleam and falchions redden, And heard the slogan?s deadly yell- Then the chief of Branxholm fell !? Nor was the feud between these two families stanched till forty-five years later, when the chiefs of both paraded the High Street with their followers amicably, but it was expected their first meeting would decide their quarrel. On the 24th of November, 1567, about two in the afternoon, the Laird of Airth and Sir John Wemyss of that ilk, ?met upon the Hie Gait of Edinburgh,? according to Birrel, ?and they and their followers fought a bloody skirmish, when many were hurt on both sides by shot of pistol.? On this the Privy Council issued, but in vain, an edict against the wearing of culverins, dags, pistolets, or other ?? firewerks.? The latter seem to have been adopted or in use earlier in Scotland than in the sister kingdom. At the raid of the Redswire, the English archers were routed by the volleys of the Scottish hackbuttiers ; and here we find, as the author of ?Domestic Annals? notes, ?that sword and buckler were at this time (1567) the ordinary gear of gallant men in England-a comparatively harmless furnishing ; but we see that small fire-arms were used in Scotland.? On the 7th December, three years after this, the Hoppringles and Elliots chanced to encounter in the same place-hostile parties knew each other well then by their badges, livery, and banners-and a terrible slaughter would have ensued had not the armed citizens, according to the ? Diurnal of Occurrents,? redLi-i. e., separated-them by main force. A feud, which for many years disturbed the upper valley of the Tweed, resulted in a tulzie in the streets which is not without gome picturesque details. It was occasioned by the slaughter of Veitch of Dawick?s son, in June, 1590, by or through James Tweedie of Drummelzier, to revenge which, rames Veitch younger of Synton, and Andrew Veitch, brother of the Laird of Tourhope, slew John Tweedie, tutor of Drummelzier and burgess of Edinburgh, as he walked in the public streets. Too much blood had been shed now for the matter to end there. The Veitches were arrested, but the Laird of Dawick came to the rescue with 10,000 inerks bail, and their fiberation was ordered by the king ; but they were barely free before they effected the slaughter of James Geddes of Glenhegden, head or chief of his family, with whom they, too, were at feud; and the recital of this crime, as given in the ?Privy Council Record,? affords a curious insight into the modus opernndi of a daylight brawl in the streets at that time. We modernise it thus :- James Geddes, being in Edinburgh for the space of some eight days, openly and publicly met, almost daily in the High Street, the Laird of Drummelzier. The latter fearing an attack, albeit that Geddes was always alone, planted spies and retainers about the house in which he lived and other places to which he was in the habit of repairing. It chanced that on the 29th of December, 1592, James Geddes being in the Cowgate, getting his horse.shod at the booth of David Lindsay, and being altogether careless of his safety, Drummelzier was informed of his whereabouts, and dividing all
Volume 2 Page 194
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