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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. III


New Town.] ? . WOOD?S FARM. 11.5 Lang Dykes; by the old Queensferry Road that I descended into the deep hollow, where Bell?s Mills lie, and by Broughton Loan at the other end of the northern ridge. Bearford?s Parks on the west, and Wood?s Farm on the east, formed the bulk of this portion of the site; St. George?s Church is now in the centre of the former, and Wemyss Place of the latter. The hamlet and manor house of Moultray?s Hill arc now occupied by the Register House; and where the Royal Bank stands was a cottage called ?Peace and Plenty,? from its signboard near Gabriel?s Road, ? where ambulative citizens regaled themselves with curds and cream,?? and Broughton was deemed so far afield that people went there for the summer months under the belief that they were some distance from ?town, just as people used to go to Powburn and Tipperlinn fifty years later. Henry Mackenzie, author of ?The Man of Feeling,? who died in 1831, remembered shooting snipes, hares, and partridges upon Wood?s Farm. The latter was a tract of ground extending frGm Canon Mills on the north, to Bearford?s Parks on the south, and was long in possession of Mr. Wood, of Warriston, and in the house thereon, his son, the famous ?Lang Sandy Wood,? was born in 1725. It stood on the area between where Queen Street and Heriot Row are now, and ?many still alive,? says Chambers, writing in 1824, ?remember of the fields bearing as fair and rich a crop of wheat as they may now be said to bear houses. Game used to be plentiful upon these groundsin particular partridges and hares . . . . . Woodcocks and snipe were to be had in all the damp and low-lying situations, such as the Well-house Tower, the Hunter?s Bog, and the borders of Canon Mills Loch. Wild ducks were frequently shot in the meadows, where in winter they are sometimes yet to be found. Bruntsfield Links, and the ground towards the Braid Hills abounded in hares.? In the list of Fellows of the Royal College of Surgeons, Alexander Wood and his brother Thomas are recorded, under date 1756 and 1715 respectively, as the sons of ?Thomas Wood, farmer on the north side of Edinburgh, Stockbridge Road,? now called Church Lane. A tradition exists, that about 1730 the magistrates offered to a residenter in Canon Mills all the ground between Gabriel?s Road and the Gallowlee, in perpetual fee, at the annual rent of a crown bowl of punch; but so worthless was the land then, producing only whim and heather, that the offer was rejected. (L? Old Houses in Edinburgh.?) The land referred to is now worth more than A15,ooo per annum. . Prior to the commencement of the new town, the only other edifices. on the site were the Kirkbraehead House, Drumsheugh House, near the old Ferry Road, and the Manor House of Coates. Drumsheugh House, of which nothing now remains but its ancient rookery in Randolph Crescent, was removed recently. Therein the famous Chevaliei Johnstone, Assistant A.D.C. to Prince Charles; was concealed for a time by Lady Jane Douglas, after the battle of Culloden, till he escaped to England, in the disguise of a pedlar. Alexander Lord Colville of Culross, a distinguished Admiral of the White, resided there s u b sequently. He served at Carthagena in 1741, at Quebec and Louisbourg in the days of Wolfe, and died at Drumsheugh on the zIst of May, 1770. His widow, Lady Elizabeth Erskine, daughter of Alexander Earl of Kellie, resided there for some years after, together with her brother, the Honourable Andrew Erskine, an officer of the old 71st, disbanded in 1763, an eccentric character, who figures among Kay?s Portraits, and who in 1793 was drowned in the Forth, opposite Caroline Park. Lady Colville died at Drumsheugh in the following year, when the house and lands thereof reverted to her brother-in-law, John Lord Colville of Culross. And so lately as 1811 the mansion was occupied by James Erskine, Esq.,. of Cambus. Southward of Drumsheugh lay Bearford?s Parks,. mentioned as ? Terras de Barfurd ? in an Act in. favour of Lord Newbattle in 1587, named from Hepburn of Bearford in Haddingtonshire. In 1767 the Earl of Morton proposed to have a wooden bridge thrown across the North Loch from these parks to the foot of Warriston?s Close, but the magistrates objected, on the plea that the property at the dose foot was worth A20,ooo. The proposed bridge was to be on a line with ?the highest level ground of Robertson?s and Wood?s Farms.? In the Edinburgh Adnediser for 1783 the magistrates announced that Hallow Fair was to be ?held in the Middle Bearford?s Park.? Lord Fountainhall, under dates 1693 and 1695, records a dispute between Robert Hepburn of Bearford and the administrators of Heriot?s hospital, concerning ?the mortified annual rents acclaimed out of his tenement in Edinburgh, called the Black Turnpike,? and again in 1710, of an action he raised against the Duchess of Buccleuch, in which Sir Robert Hepburn of Bearford, in I 633, is referred to, all probably of the same family. The lands and houses of Easter and Wester
Volume 3 Page 115
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