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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. II


366 OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [Moultray?s Hill. - dedicated to him,?) but by whom founded or when, is quite unknown ; and from this edifice an adjacent street was for ages named St. Ninian?s Row. ?The under part of the building still remains,? to quote Arnot; (?it is the nearest house to the RegisteI Office on the south-east, except the row of houses on the east side of the theatre. The lower storey was vaulted, and the vaults still remain. On these a mean house has been superstructed, and the whole converted into a dwelling-house. The baptismal font, which was in danger of being destroyec was this year (1787) removed to the curious towel built at Dean Haugh, by Mr. Falter ROSS, Write to the Signet.? The ?? lower part ? of the building was evidently the crypt, and the font referred to, neatly-sculptured basin with a beautiful Gothi canopy, is now among the many fragments built b: Sir Walter Scott into the walls of Abbotsford. Thi extinct chapel appears to have been a dependenc: of Holyrood abbey, from the numerous notice that appear in licences granted by the abbots o that house to the Corporations of the Canongate for founding and maintaining altars in the church and in one of these, dated 1554, by Robert Stewart abbot of Holyrood, with reference to St. Crispin?, altar therein, he states, ?? it is our will yat ye Cor dinars dwelland within our regalitie. . . besyde our chapel1 of Sanct Ninian, out with Sanc Andrews Port besyde Edinburcht, be in brether heid and fellowschipe with ye said dekin anc masters of ye cordinar craft.? In 1775 one or two houses of St. James?s Squart were built on the very crest of Moultray?s Hill The first stone of the house at the south-eas corner of the square was laid on the day that news reached Edinburgh of the battle of Bunker?s Hill which was fought on the 17th of June in that year. ? The news being of coul?se very interesting, wa: the subject of popular discussion for the day, and nothing but Bunker?s Hill was in everybody?s mouth. It so happened that the two buildeE founding this first tenement fell out between themselves, and before the ceremony was concluded, most indecorously fell to and fought out the quarrel on the spot, in presence of an immense assemblage of spectators, who forthwith conferred the name of Bunker?s Hill upon the place, in commemoration of the combat, which it retains to this day. The tenement founded under these curious circumstances was permitted to stand by itself for some years upon the eminence of Bunker?s Hill; and being remarkably tall and narrow, as well as a solitary Zana?, it got the popular appellation of ?Hugo Arnot? from the celebrated historian, who lived in the neighbourhood, and whose slim, skeleton-looking figure was well known to the public eye at the period.? So lately as 1804 the ground occupied by the lower end of Katharine Street, at the north-eastem side of Moultray?s Hill, was a green slope, where people were wont to assemble, to watch the crowds returning from the races on Leith sands. In this new tenement on Bunker?s Hill dwelt Margaret Watson of Muirhouse, widow of Robert? Dundas, merchant, and mother of Sir David Dun- ? das, the celebrated military tactician. ?We used to go to her house on Bunker?s Hill,? says? Lord Cockbum, when boys, on Sundays between the morning and the afternoon sermons, when we were cherished with Scottish broth and cakes, and many a joke from the old lady. Age had made her incapable of walking even across the room; so, clad in a plain silk gown, and a pure muslin cap, she sat half encircled by a high-backed blackleather chair, reading, with silver spectacles stuck on her thin nose, and interspersing her studies and her days with much laughter and not a little sarcasm. What a spirit! There was more fun and sense round that chair than in the theatre or the church.? In 1809 No. 7 St. James?s Square was the residence of Alexander Geddes, A.R.Y.A., a well-known Scottish artist. He was born at 7 St. Patrick Street, near the Cross-causeway, in 1783. In 1812 he removed to 55 York Place, and finally to London, where he died, in Berners Street, on the 5th of May, 1844. His etchings in folio were edited by David Laing, in 1875, but only IOO copies were printed. A flat on the west side of the square was long the residence of Charles Mackay, whose unrivalled impersonation of Eailie Nicol Jarvie was once the most cherished recollection of the old theatre-going public, and who died on the 2nd November, 1857. In 1787 Robert Bums lived for several months in No. z (a common stair now numbered as 30) whither he had removed from Baxter?s Close in the Lawnmarket, and from this place many 3f the letters printed in his correspondence are dated. In one or two he adds, ?Direct to me xt Mr, FV. Cruikshank?s, St. James?s Square, New Town, Edinburgh.? This gentleman was one of ;he masters of the High School, with whom he passed many a happy hour, and to whose daughter ie inscribed the verses beginning- This square was not completed till 1790, ? Beauteous rosebud, young and gay, Blooming in thy early May,? &c. It was while here that he joined most in that irilliant circle in which the accomplished Duchess ?
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OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [Moultray?s Hill. - 368 -__ Courts, and large apartments for the stowage of registers. In 1869 the folio record volumes numbered 42,835, occupying the shelves of twenty-one chambers. In one of the largest rooms are preserved the rolls of ancient Parliaments, the records of the Privy Council, charters of the sovereigns of Scotland from William the Lion to the days of Queen Anne, and on the central table lies the Scottish duplicate of the Treaty of Union. In these immediately to the transmission of landed property in Scotland, and to the condition of Scottish society. Others illustrate the relations of Scotland with foreign countries, but more especially with England. The Lord Clerk Register and Keeper of the Signet, who is a Minister of State of Scotland, and whose office is of great antiquity, has always been at the head of this establishment, which includes various offices, such as those of the Lord Lyon, ANTIQUARIAN ROOM, REGISTER HOUSE. fireproof chambers is deposited a vast quantity of valuable and curious legal and historical documents, such as the famous letter of the Scottish barons to the Pope in 1320, declaring that ?so long as one hundred Scotsmen remained alive, they would never submit to the dominion of England,? adding, ?it is not for glory, riches, or honour, that we fight, but for that liberty which no good man will consent to lose but with life!? There, too, is preserved the Act of Settlement of the Scottish crown upon the House of Stuart, a document through which the present royal family inherits the throne ; the original deed initiating the College of Justice by James V.; &c. Of all the mass of records preserved here some relate more the Lords Commissioners of Tiends, the Clerk and Extractors of the Court of Session, the Jury Court, and Court of Justiciary, the Great or Privy Seal, and the Register General. In 1789, at the request of Lord Frederick Camp-. bell, a military guard was first placed upon this. ihportant public building, and two sentinels were posted, one at the east and the other at the west end. In the same year lamps were first placed upon it. In modem times the two chief departments of the Lord Clerk Register?s duty was the registration of title deeds and the custody of historical documents. Originally, like the Master of the Rolls in England, he occasionally exercised judicia)
Volume 2 Page 367
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