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Memorials of Edinburgh in the Olden Time


a2 MEMORIALS OF EDINBURGH. Deacons mustered the whole burgher force of the city, armed and equipped in warlike array, and marched at their head to the Links of Leith. From thence the magistrates proceeded to the town, and ‘( held ane court upon the Tolbuyth stair of Leith, and created bailies, sergeants, clerks, and demstars,’ and took possession. thereof by virtue of their infeftment made by the Queen’s grace to them.”’ The superiority thus established, continued to be maintained, often with despotic rigour, until the independence of Leith was secured by the Burgh Reform Bill of 1833. On the 22d of August, the Earl of Murray was invested with the dignity of Regent, and proclamation of the same made at the Cross of Edinburgh; with great magnificence and solemnity. In his strong hand, the sceptre was again swayed for a brief period with such stern rigour, as checked the turbulent factions, and restored, to a great extent, tranquillity to the people. But his regency was of brief duration; he fell by the hand of an assassin in the month of January 1570, and the Earl of Lennox succeeded to hie office. He was buried in St Giles’s Church, and a monument erected to his memory in the south transept, which remained a point of peculiar attraction in the old fabric, until it was most barbarously demolished, during the alterations effected on the building in 1829. The Castle, at this time, was held by Sir William Kirkaldy of Grange, who still adhered to the Queen’e party ; and he abundantly availed himself of the unsettled state of affairs to strengaen his position. He had seized all provisions brought into Leith, and raised and trained soldiers with little interruption. On the 28th of March 1571, he took forcible possession of St Giles’s Church, and manned the steeple to keep the citizens in awe ; and again on the 1st of May, the Duke of Chatelherault, having entered the town with 300 men, the men of war in the steeple, ‘( slappit all the pendis of the kirk,’ for keeping thairof aganis my Lord Regent,” and immediate preparations were made for the defence of the town. Troops crowded into the city, and others mustered against it, the Regent being bent on holding a Parliament there. The Estates accordingly assembled in the Canongate, without the walls, but within the liberties of the city, which extended to St John’s Cross, and a battery was erected for their protection, upon (‘ the Dow Craig‘ abone the Trinity College, beside Edinburgh, to ding and seige the north-east quarter of the burgh.’’ ’ The place indicated is obviously that portion of the Calton Hill where the house of the governor of the jail now stands, a most commanding position for the purpose in view ; from this an almost constant firing was kept up on the city during the sittings of the Parliament. The opposite party retaliated by erecting a battery in the Blackfriars (the old High School Yard), from which they greatly damaged the houses in the Canongate, while the Nether Bow Port was built up with stone and lime, the more effectually to exclude them from the usual place of meeting. Diligent preparations were made for the defence of the town after the Parliament had withdrawn. On the 6th of June, commandment was given ‘‘ by the lords of the nobility in Edinburgh, to tir and tak down all the tymmer work of all houses in Leith Wynd and Le., Judge8 or doomem, latterly hangmen. 9 Diurnal of Occurrents, p. 117. e Diurnal of Oocurrenta, p. 213. 3 Ibid, p. 202. 6 Most probably from the Gaelic A, i c , Black Craig. i.e., Broke out loap-holes in the arched roof.
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YAMES VI. TO RESTORATION OF CHARLES I.. 83 Sanct Mary’s Wynd, hurtful to the keiping of this burghe.” And, again, on the Sth, they caused the doors and windows of all the tenements on the west side of St Mary’s- Wynd to be “ biggit up and closit,” as well as other great preparations for defence. On the 20th of June, three pieces of brass ordnance were mounted on St Giles’s steeple, and the holders of it amply stored with provisions and ammunition for its defence, and all the malls, fosses, and ports, were again ‘ I newlie biggit and repairit ; ” and within a few days after, the whole merchants and craftsmen remaining in the burgh, mustered to a ‘‘ wappinschawing” in the Greyfriars’ Churchyard, and engaged to aid and assist the Captain of the Castle in the service of the Queen.’ When all others means failed, an ingenious plot was devised for taking the Nether Bow Port by a stratagem, nearly similar to that by which the Castle was recovered in 1341; but the ambush was discovered by chance, and the scheme, happily for the citizens, defeated. Immediately thereafter, “ the Lords and Captain of the Castle causit big ane ne‘w port at the Nether boll, within the auld port of the same, of aisler wark, in the maist strenthie maner ; and tuik, to big the saniyn with, all the aisler stanis that Alexander Clerk haid gadderit of the kirk of Restalrig to big his hous with.”s This interesting notation supplies the date of erection of the second Nether Bow Port, and accounts for its position behind the line of the city wall ; as the original gate in continuation of St Mary’s Wynd would have to be retained and defended, while the new works were going on within. On the earlier site, but, we may presume to some extent at least, with these same materials, the fauous old “ Temple Bar of Edinburgh,” was again rebuilt in the form represented in the engraving, in the year 1606. At a still later date, the same parties, in their anxiety to defend this important pass, “causit all the houssis of Leith and Sanct Marie Wyndis heidis to be tane dounl” The Earl of Mar was no less zealous in his preparations for its assault. He caused trenches to be cast up in the Pleasance, for nine pieces of large and small ordnance, and mounted others on Salisbury Crags, ‘‘ to ding Edinburgh with,” so that the poor burghers of that quarter must have found good reason for wishing the siege to draw to a close. Provisions failed, and all fresh supplies were most diligently intercepted; military law prevailed in its utmost rigour, and the sole appearance of their enjoying a moment’s ease occur^ in the statement, that “ uochttheles the remaneris thairin abaid patientlie, and usit all plesouris quhilkis were wont to be usit in the xnoneth of Maij in ald tymes, viz., Robin Hude and Litill Johne.” This frightful state of affairs was at length brought to a close, with little advantage to either party; and on the 27th of July 1572, the whole artillery about the walls, on the steeple head of St Giles’s, and the Kirk-of-Field, were removed to the Castle, and the Cross being most honourably hung with tapestry, a truce was proclaimed by the heralds, with sound of trumpets, and the hearty congratulations of the people.“ In the month of August Knox returned to Edinburgh, after an absence of nearly two years. His life was drawing rapidly to a close, and on the 24th of November 1572 he expired in his sixty-seventh year. His body was interred in the Churchyard of St Giles, and was attended to the grave by a numerous concourse of people, including many of the chief , Diurnal of Occurrenta, pp. 220, 226, 251. Diurnal of Occurrenta, p. 241. ’ Ante, p. 8. ’ Ibid, p. 308.
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