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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. III


Gnonpnte.] JVHN PATERSON. I1 The latter is an anagram on the name of ?John Paterson,? while the quatrain was the production of Dr. Pitcairn, and is referred to in the first volume of Gilbert Stuart?s Edinburgh Magazine andRevim for 1774, and may be rendered thus: --?In the year when Paterson won the prize in golfing, a game peculiar to the Scots (in which his ancestors had nine times won the same honour), he then raised this mansion, a victory more honourable than all the rest.? According to tradition, two English nobles at Holyrood had a discussion with the royal duke as to the native country of golf, which he was frequently in the habit of playing on the Links of Leith with the Duke of Lauderdale and others, and which the two strangers insisted to be an English game as well, No evidence of this being forthcoming, while many Scottish Parliamentary edicts, some as old as the days of James II., in 1457, could be quoted concerning the said game, the Englishmen, who both vaunted their expertness, offered to test the legitimacy of their pretensions on the result of a match to be played by them against His Royal Highness and any other .Scotsman he chose to select. After careful inquiry he chose a man named John Paterson, a poor shoemaker in the Canongate, but the worthy descendant of a long line of illustrious golfers, and the association will by no means surprise, even in the present age, those who practise the game in the true old Scottish spirit The strangers were ignominiously beaten, and the heir to the throne had the best of this practical argument, while Paterson?s merits were rewarded by the stake played for, and he built the house now standing in the Canongate. On its summit he placed the Paterson arms-three pelicans vuZned; on a chief three mullets ; crest, a dexter-hand grasping a golf club, with the wellold and well-known tradition, Chambers says, ?it must be admitted there is some uncertainty. The house, the arms, and the inscriptions only indicate that Paterson built the house after being victor at golf, and that Pitcairn had a hand in decorating it.?? In this doubt Wilson goes further, and believes that the Golfers? Land was Zmt, not won, by the gambling propensities of its owner. It was acquired by Nicol Paterson in 1609, a maltman in Leith, and from him it passed, in 1632, to his son John (and Agnes Lyel, his spouse), who died 23rd April, 1663, as appears by the epitaph upon his tomb in the churchyard of Holyrood, which was extant in Maitland?s time, and the strange epitaph on which is given at length by Monteith. He would appear to have been many times Bailie of the Canongate. known mOttO-FAR AND SURE. Concerning this Both Nicol and John, it may be inferred from the inscriptions on the ancient edifice, were able and successful golfers. The style of the bNilding, says Wilson, confirms the idea that it had been rebuilt by him ?with the spoils, as we are bound to presume, which he won on Leith Links, from ?OUT auld enemies of England.? The title-deeds, however, render it probable that other stakes had been played for with less success. In 1691 he grants a bond over the property for A400 Scots. This is followed by letters of caption and hornhg, and other direful symptoms of legal assault, which pursue the poor golfer to his grave, and remain behind as his sole legacy to his heirs.? The whole tradition, however, is too serious to be entirely overlooked, but may be taken by the reader ?or what it seems worth. Bailie Paterson?s successor in the old mansion was John, second Lord Bellenden of Broughton and Auchnoule, Heritable Vsher of the Exchequer, who married Mary, Countess Dowager of Dalhousie, and daughter of the Earl of Drogheda. Therein he died in 1704, and was buried in the Abbey Church ; and as the Union speedily followed, like other tenements so long occupied by the old courtiers in this quarter, the Golfers? Land became, as we find it now, the abode of plebeians. Immediately adjoining the Abbey Court-house was an old, dilapidated, and gable-ended mansion of no great height, but of considerable extent, which was long indicated by oral tradition as the abode of David Rizzio. It has now given place to buildings connected with the Free Church of Scotland. Opposite these still remain some of the older tenements of this once patrician burgh, distinguishable by their lofty windows filled in with small square panes of glass ; and on the south side of the street, at its very eastern end, a series of pointed arches along the walls of the Sanctuary Court-house, alone remain to indicate the venerable Gothic porch and gate-house of the once famous, Abbey of Holyrood, beneath which all that was great and good, and much that was ignoble and bad have passed and repassed in the days that are no more. . This edifice, of which views from the east and west are still preserved, is supposed to have been the work of ?the good-Abbot Ballantyne,? who rebuilt the north side of the church in 1490, and to whom we shall have occasion to refer elsewhere. His own mansion, or lodging, stood here on the north side of the street, and the remains of it, together With the porch, were recklessly destroyed and removed by the Hereditary Keeper of the Palace in 1753.
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