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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. IV


The Old High S:hoo!.l THE GRAMMAR SCHOOL. 287 college, the pulpits, desks, lofts, and seats, were; says Nicol, (( dung down by these English sodgeris, and burnt to asses.? When the congregation of the abbey church were compelled by James VII. to leave it in 1687, they had to seek accommodation in Lady Yester?s till another place of worship could be provided for them. A small cemetery adjoined the church ; it is now covered with buildings, but was still in use about the close of the last and beginning of the present century, and many seamen of the Russian fleet, which lay for a time at Leith, and who died in the infirmary, were buried there. In 1803 the old church was taken down, and a new one erected for 1,212 sitters, considerably to the westward of it, was opened in the following year. Though tasteless and nondescript in style, it was considered an ornament to that part of the city. The tomb of the foundress, and the tablet recording her good works, are both rebuilt into this new fane ; but it seems doubtful whether her body was removed at the same time. The parish is wholly a town one, and situated within the city; it contains 64,472 square yards With diffidence, yet with ardour and interest, we now approach the subject of the old High School of Edinburgh-the famous and time-honoured SchZa Regia Edineprsis-so prominently patronised by James VI., and the great national importance of which was recognised even by George IV., who gave it a handsome donation. Scott, and thousands of others, whose deeds and names in every walk of life and in every part of the globe have added to the glory of their country, have conned their tasks in the halls of this venerable institution. In the roll of its scholars,? says Dr. Steven, ?are the names of some of the most distinguished men of all professions, and who have filled important situations in all parts of the world, and it is a fact worth recording that it includes the names of three Chancellors of England, all nafives of Edinburgh-Wedderbum, Erskine, and Brougham.? Learning, with all the arts and infant science too, found active and munificent patrons in the monarchs of the Stuart line ; thus, so early as the sixth Parliament of James IV., it was ordained that all barons and freeholders of substance were to put their eldest sons to school after the age of six or nine years, there to remain till they were perfect in Latin, ?( swa that they have knowledge and understanding of the lawes, throw the quhilks justice may remaine universally throw all the tealme.? Those who failed to conform to this Act were to pay a fine of twenty pounds. But Scotland possessed schools so early as the twelfth century in all her principal towns, though prior to that period scholastic knowledge could only be received within the walk- of the monasteries. The Grammar School of Edinburgh was originally attached to the abbey of Holyrood, and as the demand for education increased, those friars whose presence could be most easily dispensed tvith at the abbey,were permitted by the abbot and chapter to become public teachers within the city. The earliest mention of a regular Grammar School in Edinburgh being under the control of the magistrates is on the 10th January, 1519, ?the quhilk day, the provost, baillies, and counsall statutis and ordains, fot resonabie caussis moving thame, that na maner of nychtbour nor indwe!ler within this burgh, put thair bairins till ony particular scule within this toun, boi to fhe pnircipal Grammw Smlc of the samyn,? to be taught in any science, under a fine of ten shillings to the master of the said principal school. David Vocat, clerk of the abbey, was then at the head of the seminary, enjoying this strange monopoly; and on the 4th September, 1524, George, Bishop of Dunkeld, as abbot of Holyrood, with consent of his chapter, appointed Henry Henryson as assistant and successor to Vocat, whose pupil he had been, at the Grammar School of the Canongate. Bya charter of James V., granted under the great seal of Scotland, dated 1529, Henryson had the sole privilege of instructing the youth of Edinburgh; but he was ?also to attend at the abbey in his surplice on all high and solemn festivals, there to sing at mass and evensong, and make himself otherwise useful in the chapel. According to Spottiswood?s Church History, Henryson publicly abjured Romanism so early .as 1534, and thus he must have left the High School before that year, as Adam Melville had become head-master thereof in 1531. The magistrates of the city had as yet no voice in the nomination of masters, though the whole onus of the establishment rested on them as representing the citizens ; and in 1554, as we have elsewhere (VoL I. p. 263) stated, they hired that venerable edifice, then at the foot of Blackfriars Wfnd-once the residence of -Archbishop Ekaton and of his nephew the cardinal- as a school; but in the following year they were removed to another house, near the head of what is named the High School Wynd, which had been built by the town for their better accommodation. The magistrates having obtained from Queen
Volume 4 Page 287
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