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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. V


184 OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. rLeith . but by bringing ordonnance from the Castell to the shoare, to dins at them so long as they sould be within shot.?? (Melrose?s Letter.) Upon this the constable and his cannoniers, with a battery of guns, came with all speed down, by the Bonnington Road most probably, and took up a position on the high ground near the ancient chapel of St. Nicholas; but this aid came too late, for Mynheer de Hautain had driven the unfortunate Spanish frigate, after great slaughter, completely outside the harbour, where she grounded on a dangerous reef, then known as the Mussel Cape, but latterly as the Black Rocks. There she was boarded by a party of Leith seamen, who hoisted a Scottish flag at her topmasthead ; but that afforded her no protection, for the inexorable Dutchmen boarded her in the night, burned her to the water?s edge, and sailed away before dawn. Two years after this there occurred a case of ? murder under trust, stouthrief, and piracie,? of considerable local interest, the last scene of which was enacted at Leith. In November, 1624, Robert Brown, mariner in Burntisland, with his son, John Brown, skipper there, David Dowie, a burgess there, and Robert? Duff, of South Queensferry, were all tried before the Criminal Court for slaying under trust three young Spanish merchants, and appropriating to themselves their goods and merchandise, which these strangers had placed on board John Brown?s ship to be conveyed from the Spanish port 3f San Juan to Calais three years before. ? Beeing in the middis of the sea and far fra lande,? runs the indictment, they threw the three Spaniards overboard, ?ane eftir other in the raging seas,? after which, in mockery of God, they ?maid ane prayer and sang ane psalm,? and then bore away for Middelburg in Zealand, and sold the property acquired-walnuts, chestnuts, and Spanish wines. For this they were all hanged, their heads struck from their bodies and set upon pikes of iron in the town of Leith, the sands of which were the scene of many an execution for piracy, till the last, which occurred in 1822, when Peter Heaman and Fransois Gautiez were hanged at the foot of Constitution Street, within the floodmark, on the 9th of January, for murder and piracy upon the high seas. On the 28th and 30th March, 1625, a dreadful storm raged along the whole east coast of Scotland, and the superstitious Calderwood, in his history, seems to connect it as a phenomenon with the death of James VI., tidings of which reached Edinburgh on that day. The water in Leith harbour rose to a height never known before; the ships were dashed against each other ?? broken and spoiled,? and many skippers and mariners who strove to make them fast in the night were drowned. ?It was taken by all men to be a forerunner of some great alteration. And, indeed, the day followingto wit, the last of March-sure report was brought hither from Court that the King departed this life the Lord?s day before, the 27th of March? . CHAPTER XX. LEITH-HISTORICAL SURVEY (continued). Si William Mown?s Suggestinns-Leith Re-fortified-The Covenant Signed-The Plague-The Cromwelli in Leith-A Mutiny-Newspaw Printed in the Citadel-Tucker?s Report-English Fleet-A Windmill-English Pirates Hanged-Citadel seized by Brigadier Mackintosh& Hessian Army Lands-Highland Mutinies-Paul Jones-Prince William Henry. . CHARLES I. was proclaimed King of Scotland, England, France, and Ireland, at the Cross of Edinburgh and on the shore at Leith, where Lord Balmerino and the Bishop of Glasgow attended with the heralds and trumpeters. The events of the great Civil War, and those which eventually brought that unfortunate king to the scaffold, lie apart from the annals of Leith, yet they led to the re-fortifying of it after Jenny Geddes had given the signal of resistance in St. Giles?s in July, 1637, and the host of the Covenant began to gather on the hills above Dunse. Two years before that time we find Vice-Admiral Sir William Monson, a distinguished English naval officer who served with Raleigh in Elizabeth?s reign in many expeditions under James VI., and who survived till the time of Charles I., urging in his ?Naval Tracts? that Leith should be made the capital of Scotland ! ?? Instead of Edinburgh,? he wrote, I? which is the supreme city, and now made the head of justice, whither all men resort as the only spring that waters the kingdom, I wish his Majesty did fortify, strengthen, and make impregnable, the town of Leith, and there to settle the seat of justice, with all the other privileges Edinburgh enjoys, referring it to the
Volume 5 Page 184
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