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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. V


IS2 OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [Leith brunt in assis, and all thair moveable guidis to be escheat.? On the 6th of August, 1600, as Birrel tells us in his Diary, there came to Edinburgh tidings of the King?s escape from the Gowrie Conspiracy, upon which the castle guns boomed from battery and tower j the bells clashed, trumpets were sounded and drums beaten; the whole town rose in arms, ?with schutting of muskettis, casting of fyre workes and boynfyirs set furth,? with dancing and such merriness all night, as had never before been seen in Scotland.. The Earl of Montrose, Lord Chancellor, the Master of Elphinstone, Lord Treasurer, with other nobles, gathered the people around the market cross upon their knees, to give thanks to God for the deliverance of the King, who crossed the Firth on the 11th of the month, and was received upon the sands of Leith by the entire male population of the city and suburbs, all in their armour, ?with grate joy, schutting of muskettis, and shaking of pikes.? After hearing Mr. David Lindsay?s ? orisone,? in St. Mary?s Church, he proceeded to the cross of Edinburgh, which was hung with tapestry, and where Mr. Patrick Galloway preached on the 124th Psalm. In 1601 a man was tried at Leith for stealing grain by means of false keys, for which he was sentenced to have his hands tied behind his back and be taken out to the Roads and there drowned. Birrel records that on the 12th July, 1605, the King of France?s Guard mustered in all their bravery on the Links of Leith, where they were sworn in and received their pay ; but this must have referred to some body of recruits for the Ecossuise du Roi, of which ?? Henri Prince d?Ecosse ? was nominally appointed colonel in 1601, and which carried on its standards the motto, In omni modo JdeZis. Exactly twenty years later another muster in the same place was held of the Scots Guards for the King of France, under Lord Gordon (son of the Marquis of Huntly), whose younger brother, Lord Melgum, was his lieutenant, the first gentleman of the company being Sir William Gordon of Pitlurg, son of Gordon of Kindroch. (? Gen. Hist. of the Earls of Sutherland.?) In the April of the year 1606 the Union Jack first made its appearance in the Port of Leith. It would seem that when the King of Scotland added England and Ireland to his dominions, his native subjects-very unlike their descendants-manifested, says Chambers, the utmost jealousy regarding their heraldic ensigns, and some contentions in consequence arose between them and their English neighbours, particularly at sea. Thus, on the 12th April, 1606, ? for composing of some differences between his subjects of North and South Britain travelling by seas, anent the bearing of their flags,? the King issued a proclamation ordaining the ships of both nations to carry on their maintops the flags of St. Andrew and St. George interlaced ; those of North Britain in their stern that of St. Andrew, and those of South Britain that of St. George. In those days, whatever flag was borne, piracy was a thriving trade in Scottish and English waters, where vessels of various countries were often captured by daring marauders, their crews tortured, slaughtered, or thrown ashore upon lonely and desolate isles. Long Island, on the Irish coast, was a regular station for English pirate ships, and from thence in 1609 a robber crew, headed by two captains named Perkins and William Randall, master of a ship called the Gryjhound, sailed for Scottish waters in a great Dutch vessel called the Iron Prize, accompanied by a swift pinnace, and for months they roamed about the Northern seas, doing an incredible deal of mischief, and they even had the hardihood to appear off the Firth of Forth. The Privy Council upon this armed and fitted out three vessels at Leith, from whence they sailed in quest of the pirates, who had gone to Orkney to refit. There the latter had landed near the castle of Kirkwall, in which town they behaved barbarously, were always intoxicated, and indulged ?in all manner of vice and villainy.? Three of them, who had attacked a small vessel lying in shore, belonging to Patrick Earl of Orkney, were captured by his brother, Sir James Stewart (gentle man of the bed-chamber to James VI.), and soon after the three ships from Leith made their appearance, on which many of the pirates fled in the pinnace. A pursuit proving futile, the ships cap tured the Iron Prize, but not without a desperate conflict, in which several were killed and wounded. lhirty English prisoners were taken and brought to Leith, where-after a brief trial on the 26th of July -twenty-seven of them, including the two captains, were hanged at once upon a gibbet at the pier, three of them being reserved in the hope of their giving useful information. The Lord Chancellor, in a letter to James VI., written on the day of the execution, says that these pirates, oddly enough, had a parson ?? for saying of prayers to them twice a day,? who deserted from them in Orkney, but was apprehended in Dundee, where he gave evidence against the rest, and would be reserved for the King?s pleasure. The next excitement in Leith was caused by the explosion of one of the King?s large English ships
Volume 5 Page 182
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