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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. VI


Leith.] GROWTH OF THE PORT. 27.5 the sirpleth of woll and skin, because sho is fraughtit in and furth, and the better chaip inwart becaus sho fraucht swa deir furthwart; and this frauchtbg is maid in the form of the statutes of the Toune and Act ,of Parliament, the port oppin and the nychtbouris firs seruit? In 1519 the Provost and Council ordained the water bailie of Leith to await the entry of all ships at the port, and to see that no wine, timber, 01 other portions of the cargo be sold till duly entered and paid for, the king?s grace and the city first served ; and if any goods were sold or tapped, they should be arrested. The numerous rules and laws which were enacted in those days with reference to shipping, navigation, and foreign commerce, evince that the attention of the Scottish legislature was particularly directed to maritime affairs. There was an enactment which ordained that ships and fishingboats of not less than twenty tons should be built and equipped with appropriate nets and tackling by all burghs and seaport towns. By an Act passed in the second Parliament of James III., in 1466, no ship from Leith or any other port could be freighted without a charterparty, whereof the points were: ? What the master of the ship shall furnish to the merchant, that in case of debate betwixt them, they underly the law of the burgh whereto the ship ,is fraughted. That the goods be not spilt by ill-stalling ; that no goods be shown or stricken up ; that the master have no goods in his over-loft, or if he do, these goods pay no fraught. That every ship exceeding five lasts of goods pay to the chaplain of the nation a sack fraught, and if within five lasts, the half of it, under pain of five pounds; and that no drink-silver be taken by the master and his doers, under the same pain. And homeward, a tun fraught to the kirkwork of the town they are fraughted to.?? In 1488 it was ordained that all ships, Scottish or foreign, should arrive only at free burghs, and the prohibition of navigation between All Saints Day and Candlemas was renewed; and in -1535 it was ordered that ships should be ?freighted to Flanders only twice yearly, to the Easter market, and that held on the 3rd of May. The exportation of all tallow was strictly forbidden, as the realm only furnished a sufficient quantity for home consumption. By an Act of James VI., no ship could sail without the king?s consent, under pain of being arrested by the conservator. In March, 1567, there was a frightful tempest of wind, which, says Birrel, ?blew a very grate shippe out of the Rode of Leith.? He records that in .- 1596, between July and August, sixty-six ships arrived in the harbour laden with victual In 1616 the same monarch grauted a patent of the whale fishery for thirty-five years to Sir George Hay and Mr. Thomas Murray, who fitted out two ships for that purpose. Nicol mentions that, in 1652 ?there canie into the very Brig of Leith? a whale, which rendered much profit to the English garrison there. In September, 1641, a Bill was brought before the Parliament at Edinburgh by John, Earl of Rothes, Sir George Hamilton of Blackburn, Andrew Eusley, and George h o t , merchants, to enforce restitution from the Hamburgers to the value of 300,000 merks, taken from them in shipping and goods, and to grant Letters of Marque against the said Hamburgers; and in the ensuing November Letters of Reprisal by sea and land were granted under the Great Seal. In 1651 an English ship, bound for Leith was captured by the captain of the Bass, and her crew made prisoners, some being placed on the isle and others sent to Tantallon, She had on board 10,000 pairs of shoes, 6,000 pairs of boots, 5,000 saddles and sets of horse furniture, ten tons of London beeire and als muche bisquett as should have served Cromwell for a month,? says Sir James Balfour. Her cargo was handed over to Sir John Smith, Commissary-General of the Scottish army. In the May of the same year Captain Murray, commander of a Scottish frigate, took another English ship, laden with provisions, which he handed over to the army, but retained the vessel as the prize of himself and crew. In 1656 Leith possessed only three vessels of 250 tons, and eleven of 20 tons each. In 1661 the Scottish Parliament passed an Act for the encouragement of shipping and navigation, ordaining that all goods be transported in Scottish ? ships ?from the original places, whence they are in use first to be transported.? That all Scottish ships should be navigated by a Scottish master, and that at least three-parts of his crew should be Scotsmen. The Act contains an order for verifying a ship to be Scottish, and getting a certificate thereof; and that no customer ?allow the benefit of a Scot?s skipper to any ship until the same be so verified, under pain of deprivation.? This Act was not to extend to imports from Asia, Africa, America, Muscovy, or Italy. The Iirst return of tonnage for Leith, preserved in the ?Archives of the Royal Burghs,? is dated 1692, when the port could only boast of twentynine ships, with an aggregate tonnage of 1,702 tons, the estimated value of which was ;G7,1oo
Volume 6 Page 275
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