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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. I


of all human shape at the foot of the cliff. James V, was struck with remorse on hearing? bll this terrible story, He released the friar ; but, singular to say, William Lyon was merely banished the kingdom ; while a man named Mackie, by whom the alleged poison was said to be prepared, was shorn of his ears.+ On thd last day of February, 1539, Thomas Forret, Vicar of Dollar, John Keillor and John Beveridge, two black-friars, Duncan Simpson a priest, and a gentleman named Robert Forrester, were all burned together on the Castle Hill on a charge of heresy; and it is melancholy to know that a king so good and so humane as James Vb was a spectator of this inhuman persecution for religion, and that he came all the way from Linlithgow Palace to witness it, whither he returned on the 2nd of March. It is probable that he viewed it from the Castle walls. Again and again has the same place been the scene of those revolting executions for sorcery which disgraced the legal annals of Scotland. There, in 1570, Bessie Dunlop ?? was worried ? at the stake for simply practising as a ?wise woman? in curing diseases and recovering stolen goods. Several others perished in 1590-1 ; among others, Euphemie M?Calzean, for consorting with the devil, abjuring her baptism, making waxen pictures to be enchanted, raismg zi storm to drown Anne of Denmark on her way to Scotland, and so f0rth.f In 1600 Isabel Young was ?woryt at a stake I? for laying sickness on various persons, ?and thereafter burnt to ashes on the Castle Hill.??# Eight years after, James Reid, a noted sorcerer, perished in the same place, charged with practising healing by the black art, ?whilk craft,?? says one authority, ?? he learned frae the devil, his master, in- Binnie Craigs and Corstorphine, where he met with him and consulted with him diveE tymes, whiles in the likeness of a man, whiles in the likeness of a horse.? Moreover, he had tried to destroy the crops of David Liberton by putting a piece of enchanted flesh under his mill door, and to destroy David bodily by making a picturc of him in walc and mel$ng it before a fire, an ancient sdperstition-common to the Westerr Isles and in some parts of Rajpootana to thi: day. So great was the horror these crimes excited, that he was taken direct from the court to the stake. During the ten years of the Commonwealtt executions on this spot occurred with appalling frequency.$ On the 15th October, 1656, seven ~ Tytler, ? Criminal Trials,? &c. &c. $ ? Diurnal of Occumnts.? $ spot.iwod, ? Mmllany.? 0 Pitcairn xlprits were executed at once, two of whom were iurned ; and on the 9th March, 1659, ? there were,? iays Nicoll, ?fyve wemen, witches, brint on the :astell Hill, all of them confessand their covenantng with Satan, sum of thame renunceand. thair iaptisme, and all of them oft tymes dancing with ;he devell.? During the reign of Charles? I., when the Earl of Stirling obtained permission to colonise Nova Scotia, and to sell baronetcies to some zoo supposed colonists, with power of pit and gallows over their lands, the difficulty of enfeoffing them in possessions so distant was overcome by a royal mandate, converting the soil of the Castle Hill for the time being into that of Nova Scotia; and >etween 1625 and 1649 sixty-four of these baronets took seisin before the archway of the Spur. When the latter was fairly removed the hill became the favourite promenade of the citizens ; md in June, 1709, we find it acknowledged by the town council, that the Lord?s Day (? is profaned by people standing in the streets, and vaguing (sic) to ields, gardens, and the Castle Hill.? Denounce ill these as they might, human nature never could Je altogether kept off the Castle Hill ; and in old imes even the most respectable people promenaded :here in multitudes between morning and evening jervice. In the old song entitled ?The Young Laud and Edinburgh Katie,? to which Allan Ramsay added some verses, the former addresses i s mistress :7 ? Wat ye wha I met yestreen, Coming doon the street, my jo ? FG bonny, braw, and sweet, my jo I ? My dear,? quo I, ? thanks to the night, That never wished a lover ill, Since ye?re out 0? your mother?s sight, Let?s tak? a walk up to the HX.? ? M y mistress in her tartan screen, In IS58 there ensued a dispute between the magistrates of Edinburgh and the Crown as to the proprietary of the Castle Hill and Esplanade. The former asserted their right to the whole ground claimed by the board of ordnance, acknowledging no other boundary to the possessions of the former than the ramparts of the Castle. This extensive claim they made in virtue of the rights conferred upon them by the golden charter of James VI. in 1603, wherein they were gifted with all and whole, the loch called the North Loch, lands, pools, and marisches thereof, the north and south banks and braes situated on the west of the burgh, near the Castle of Edinburgh, on both sides of the Castle from the public highway, and that part of
Volume 1 Page 86
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