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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. V


Wright?s Houes.] WRYCHTISHOUSIS. 3.1 the genealogist of the Napier family conceives, with great probability, that the property was held by the tenure of payment to the king of a silver penny yearly upon the CasfZe aiZZ of Edinburgh. The edifice to which we refer was undoubtedly one of the oldest, and by far the most picturesque, baronial dwelling in the neighbourhood of the city ; and blending as it did the grim old feudal tower of the twelfth or thirteenth century with more ornate additions of the Scoto-French style of later years, it must have formed-even in the tasteless age that witnessed its destruction-a pleasing and striking feature from every part of the landscape broken, and the whole of them dispersed. Among those we have examined,? says Wilson, ?there is one now built into the doorway of Gillespie?s School, having a tree cut on it, bearing for fruit the stars and crescents of the family arms, and the inscription, DOMINUS EST ILLUMINATIO MEA ; another, placed over the hospital wall, has this legend below a boldly cut heraldic device, CONSTANTIA ET LABORE, 1339. On two others, now at Woodhouselee, are the following: BEATUS VIR QUI SPERAT IN DEO, 1450, and PATRIE ET POSTERIS, 1513, The only remains of this singular mansion that have escaped , the general wreck,? he adds, ?? are the sculptured THE AVENUE, BRUNTSFIELD LlNKS. around it, especially when viewed from Bruntsfield Links against a sunset sky. One of the dates upon it was 1339, four years after the battle of the Burghmuir, wherein the Flemings were routed under Guy of Narnur. Above a window was the date 1376, with the legend, SICUT OLIVA FRUCTIFERA. Another bore, IN DOMINO CONFIDO, 1400. Singular to say, the arms over the principal door were those of Britain after the union of the crowns. Emblems of the Virtues were profusely carved on different parts of the building, and in one was a rude representation of our first parents, with the distich- ?Quhen Adam delved, and Eve span, Quhair war a? the gentles than ? ? There were also heads of Julius jhsar and Octavius Secundus, in fine preservation. ? Many of these sculptures were recklessly defaced and 101 pediments and heraldic carvings buiit into the boundary-walls of the hospital, and a few others, which were secured by the late Lord Woodhouselee, and now adorn a ruin on Mr. Tytler?s estate at the Pentlands.? Arnot mentions, without proof, that this house was built for the residence of a mistress of Jams IV.; but probably he had never examined the dates upon it. It is impossible to discover the origin of the name now ; though Maitland?s idea, that it was derived from certain wnghfs, or carpenters, dwelling there while cutting down the oaks on the Burghmuir is far-fetched indeed. One of the heraldic sculptures indicated an alliance betxeen a Laird of Wrychtishouse and a daughter of the neighbouring Lord of Merchiston, in the year 1513. In 1581, William Napier of the former place became caution in LI,OOO for the appearance and
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34 OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [Wright?s H0u.w~ good behaviour of William Douglas of Hyvelie (Reg : Privy Council Scot.). His son Robert, who was a visitor at the house of William Turnbull of Airdrie, then resident in Edinburgh, on the 4th of September, 1608, ? by craft and violence,? carried off a daughter of the latter in her eleventh year, and kept her in some obscure place, where her father could not discover her. Turnbull brought this matter before the Privy Council, by Nhom Robert Napier was denounced as a rebel and outlaw. Of this old family nothing now remains but a tomb on the north side of the choir of St. Giles?s; it bears the Merchiston crest and the Wrychtishouse shield, and has thus been more than once pointed out as the last restingplace of the inventor of the logarithms. The Napiers of Wrychtishousis, says the biographer of the philosopher, were a race quite dis tinct from that of Merchiston, and were obviously a branch of Kilmahew, whose estates lay in Lennox. Their armorial bearings were, or on a bend azure, between two mullets or spur rowels. In its later years this old mansion was the residence of Lieutenant-General Robertson of Lude, who served throughout the whole American war, and brought home with him, at its close, a negro, who went by the name of Black Tom, who occupied a room on the ground floor. Tom was again and again heard to complain of being unable to rest at night, as the figure of a lady, headless, and with a child in her arms, rose out of the hearth, and terrified him dreadfully ; but no one believed Tom, and his story was put down to intoxication. Be that as it may, ? when the old mansion was pulled down to build Gillespie?s Hospital there was found under the hearthstone of that apartment a box containing the body of a female, from which the head had been severed, and beside her lay the remains of an infant, wrapped in a pillow-case trimmed with lace. She appeared, poor lady, to have been cut off in the blossom of her sins ; for she was dressed, and her scissors were yet hanging by a ribbon to her side, and her thimble was also in the box, having, apparently, fallen from her shrivelled fingers.?? If we are to judge from the following notice in the Edinburgh HeraZd for 6th April 1799, the mansion was once the residence of Lord Barganie (whose peerage is extiiict), as we are told that by Gillespie?s trustees, ?I Barganie House, at the Wrights Houses, has been purchased, with upwards of six acres of ground, where this hospital is to be erected, The situation is very judiciously chosen; it is elevated, dry, and healthy.? In 1800 the demolition was achieved, but not without a spirited remonstrance in the Edinburgh Mopzinc for that year, and Gillespie?s Hospital, a tasteless edifice, designed by Mr. Burn, a builder, in that ridiculous castellated style called ?&Carpenter?s Gothic,? took its place. The founder, James Gillespie, was the eldest of two brothers, who occupied a shop as tobacconists east of the Market Cross, Here John, the younger, attended to the business, while the former resided at Spylaw, near Colinton, and superintended a mill which they had erected there for grinding snuff; and there snuff was ground years after for the Messrs. Kichardson, 105, West Bow. Neither of the brothers married, ,and though frugal and industrious, were far from being miserly. They lived among their workmen and domestics, in quite a homely and patriarchal manner, ? Waste not, want not ? being ever their favourite maxim, and money increased in their hands quickly. Even in extreme age, we are told that James Gillespie, with an old blanket round him and a night-cap on, both covered with snuff, regularly attended the mill, superintending the operations of his man, Andrew Fraser, who was a hale old man, living in the hospital, when the first edition of I? Kay ? was published, in I 838. James kept a carriage, however, for which the Hon. Henry Erskine suggested as a motto :- ?Wha wad hae thocht it, That noses had bocht it?? He survived his brother five years, and dying at Spylaw on the 8th April, 1797, in his eightieth year, was buried in Colinton churchyard. By his will he bequeathed his estate, together with _f;I 2,000 sterling (exclusive of A2,700 for the erection and endowment of a school), ? for the special intent and purpose of founding and endowing an hospital, or charitable institution, within the city ,of Edinburgh or suburbs, for the aliment and maintenance of old men and women.? In 1801 the governors obtained a royal charter, forming them into a body corporate as ?The Governors of James Gillespie?s Hospital and Free School.?. The persons entitled to admittance were :-first, Mr. Gillespie?s old servants ; second, all persons of his surname over fifty-five years of age; third, persons of the same age belonging to Edinburgh and Leith, failing whom, from all other parts of Midlothian. None were to be admitted who had private resources, or were otherwise than ? decent, godly, and well-behaved men and women.? In the Council-room of the hospital-from which the school was built apart-is an excellent
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