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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. V


The Saennes.] ST. KATHARINE?S CONVENT. 53 ?Papingo,? makes Chastity flee for refuge to the sisters of the Sciennes. The convent was erected under a Bull of Pope Lax., and also by a charter of James V. This Bull informs us that the convent was created hough the influence of the families of Seton, Lord Seton, refusing all offers of mamage, became a nun at the Sciennes, and dying in her seventyeighth year, was buried there, according to the history of her house. The chapel of St. John the Eaptist became that of the new convent, which, up to the middle MR. DUNCAN MCLAREN. (Froma Pkofo~roph &y/. G. Tunny.) Douglas of Glenbervie, and Lauder of the Bass, the land being given by the venerable Sir John Crawford. The first prioress was the widowed Lady Seton ; ? ane nobill and wyse Ladye,? says Sir Richard hlaitland, ?sche gydit hir sonnis leving quhill he was cumit to age, and thereafter she passit and remainit at the place of Senis, on the Borrow Mure.? There she died in 1558, and was buried in the choir of Seton church, beside her husband, whose body had been brought from Flodden. Katharine, second daughter of George, fourth of the skteenth century, received various augmentations- among others, a tenement in the Cowgate. The nuns made annual processions to the altar of St. Katharine in St. Margaret?s Chapel at Liberton; and it was remarked, says- the editor of ArcAauZqia Scutica, that the man who demolished the latter never prospered after. In 1541 the magistrates took in feu from the nuns their arable land, lying outside the Greyfriars? Port, and, curious to say, it is on a portion of this that the new Convent of St. Katharine was founded, about 1860. Within the grounds on the north side
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54 OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [The Sciennes. of the latter is a grand old thorn, which has always borne the name of ?? St. Kathanne?s Thorn.? In 1544 the convent at the 1Sciennes was destroyed by the English ; and by the year 1567 its whole possessions had passed into the hands of laymen, and the helpless sisters were driven forth from their cloisters in utter peniiry; nor would the who also raised a cairn of stones from the venerable building in his grounds at St. Eennet?s, Greenhill. When St, Kathanne?s Place, near it, was built, a large number of skulls and human bones was found, only eighteen inches below the surface; and thirty-six feet eastward, a circular stone well, four feet in diameter and ten feet deep, was dis- WW. VIEW, 1854. (dffera Drawing6y t/re Aut&.) magistrates, until compelled by Queen Mary, says Arnot, ? allow them a subsistence out of those very funds with which their own predecessors had endowed the convent.? The ? Burgh Records? corroborate this, as in. 1563 the Prioress Christian, Reatrix Blacater, and other sisters, received payment of certain feu-duties for their sustenance out of the proceeds of the suppressed house. At that time its revenues were only A219 6s. sterling, with eighty-six bolls of wheat and barley, and one barrel of salmQn. (Maitland?s Hist.) Its seal is preserved among king?s Collection, No. 1136. Dame Christian Ballenden, prioress after the dispersion of the nuns (an event referred to by Scott in his ? Abbot ?), feued the lands in 1567 to Henry, second son of Henry Kincaid of Wamston, by his first wife, Margaret Ballenden, supposed to be a sister I or relation. How long the Kincaids possessed the lands is unknown, but about the middle of the sixteenth century they seem to have passed to Janet McMath, wife of William Dick of Grange, and consequently, ancestress of the Lauders of Fountainhall and Grange, as shown in a preceding chapter. ~ A small fragment of the convent, twelve feet high, measuring twenty-seven feet by twenty-four, having a corbelled fireplace six feet six inches wide, served-till within the last few years-as a sheepfold for the flocks that pastured in the surrounding meadow, and views of that fragment are still preserved. The site of the convent was commemorated by a tablet, erected in 1872, by George Seton, Esq., representative of the Setons of Cariston, ,N1 In Pitcairn?s ? Criminal Trials ? we read that in 1624 ?Harie Liston, indweller at the back of the Pleasance, callit the Bak Row, was delatit ? for assault and hamesucken on Robert Young, ?( in his pease lands,? beside the Sciennes, stabbing him, cutting his clothes, and drawing him by the heels ?to ane brick vault in St. Geillies Grange,? where he died, and was secretly bhried; yet Liston was declared innocent by RIOK OF THE RUINS OF THE CONVENT OF ST. KATHARINE, SCIENNES, 1854. (Affirr a Drawing ay Ue Rvthm.) ? the Court, and ?acquit of the slaughter and murthour.? In the Courant for 1761 ?the whole of the houses and gardens at Sciennes, and the houses at Goodspeed of Sciennes, near Edinburgh, at the east end of Hope Park,? belonging to Sir Tames Johnston (of Westerhall), were advertised for sale. The entrance-door of Old Sciennes House, entering from the meadows, and removed in 1867, had
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