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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. V


180 OLD AKD NEW EDINBURGH, [Leith. 1596-7. In 1578 an Act of Parliament was passed to prevent ? the taking away of great quantities of victual and flesh from Leith, under the pretence of victualling ships.?. In the same year a reconciliation having been effected between the Earl of Morton and the nobles opposed to him, the Earls of Argyle, Montrose, Athole, and Buchan, Lord Boyd, and many other persons of distinction, dined with him jovially at an hostelry in Leith, kept by William Cant. There was considerable alarm excited in Edinburgh, Leith, and along the east coast generally, by a plague which, as Moyes records, was brought from Dantzig by John Downy?s ship, the WiZZiam of ~ 5 t h . By command of the Privy Council, the ship was ordered, with her ailing and dead, to anchor off Inchcolm, to which place all afflicted by the plague were to confine themselves. The crew consisted of forty men, of whom the majority died. Proclamation had been made at the market-cross of every east coast town against permitting this fated crew to land. By petitions before the Council it appeared that William Downie, skipper in Leith, left a widow and eleven children; Scott, a mariner, seven. The survivors were afterwards re- Trades of Leith were declared independent of those of Edinburgh by a decree of the Court of Session. In October, 1589, James VI. embarked at Leith for Norway, impatient to meet his bride, Anne of Denmark, to whom he had been married by proxy. She had embarked in August, but her fleet had been detained by westerly gales, and there seemed little prospect of her reaching Scotland before the following spring. Though in that age a voyage to the Baltic was a serious matter in the fall of the year, James, undaunted, put to sea, and met his queen in Norway, where the marriage ceremony was performed again by the Rev. David Lindsay, of Leith, in the cathedral of St. Halvard at Christiania, and not at Upsala. THE ARMS moved to Inchkeith and the Castle of Inchgarvie, and the ship, which by leaks seemed likely to sink at her anchors, was emptied of her goods, which were stored in the VOW~S,? or vaults, of St. Colm. In 1584 Leith was appointed the principal market for herrings and other fish in the Firth of Forth. Five years subsequent to this we find that the despotic magistrates of Edinburgh summoned nearly one half of their Leith vassals to hear themselves prohibited from the exercise of their various trades and from choosing their deacons in all time coming. They had previously thrust two unfortunate shoemakers into prison, one forprefending that he was elected deacon of the Leith Incorporation of the craft, and the other for acting as his officer; and we are told that, notwithstanding the remon- *strances of the operatives, no attention was paid to their statements, and ? they were proceeded against as a parcel of insolent and contumacious rascals ;? and it was not until 1734 that the Incorporated OF LEIlH. - , as some assert. After remaining for some months in Denmark, the royal pair on the 6th of May, landed at the pier of Leith (where the King?s Work had been prepared for their reception), amid the booming of cannon, and the discharge of a mighty Latin oration from Mr. James Elphinstone. It is remarkable that James, whose squadron came to anchor in the roads on the 1st of May, did not land at once, as he had been sorely beset by the incantations of witches during his voyage ; and it is alleged that the latter had declared ? he would never have come safely from the sea had not his faith prevailed over their cantrips.? They were more successful, however, with a large boat coming from Burntisland to Leith, containing a number of gifts for the young queen, and which they contrived to sink amid a storm, raised by the remarkable agency of a chrisfened cat, when all on board perished. In 1595 James wrote a letter at Holyrood, addressed to ? the Bailyies of Lethe,? at the instance of William Henryson, Constable Depute of Scotland, interdicting them from holding courts to consider actions of slaughter, mulctation, drawing blood, or turbulence. (Spald. Club Miscell.) In the following year, by a letter of gift under the Privy Seal, .he empowered the Corporation of Edinburgh to levy a certain tax during a certain period towards supporting and repairing the bulwark pier and port of Leith ; and in a charter of Niladamus,
Volume 5 Page 180
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