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Memorials of Edinburgh in the Olden Time


CHAPTER X. LEITH, AND THE NEW TOWN. HE history and antiquities of the ancient burgh of Leith are much too intimately connected with the Scottish capital to admit of their being overlooked among its venerable memorials. The earliest notice of Leith occurs in the original charter of Holyrood Abbey, where it is mentioned among the gifts bestowed by Saint David on his royal foundation, under the name of Inverleith. Little, however, is known of its history until the year 1329, when the citizens of Edinburgh obtained from Eing Robert I. a grait of the Harbour and Mills of Leith, for the payment of fifty-two merks ye'arly. From that period almost to our day it has remained as a vassal of Edinburgh, not incorporated, like the Canongate, by amicable relations and the beneficent fruits of a paternal sway, but watched with a spirit of mean jealousy that seemed ever to dread the step-child becoming a formidable rival. It bore a share in all the disasters that befell its jealous neighbour, without partaking of its more prosperous fortunes, until the Burgh Reform Bill of 1833 at length freed it from this slavish vassalage, that proved in its operations alike injurious to the Capital and its Port. The position it occupied, and the share it had in the successive struggles that exercised so marked an influence on the history of Edinburgh, have already been sufficiently detailed in the introductory sketch. It suffered nearly as much from the invading armies of Henry VIII. as Edinburgh; while in the bloody feuds between the Congregation and the Queen Regent, Mary of Guise, and the no less bitter strife of the Douglas wars, it was dragged unwillingly into their quarrels, and compelled to bear the brunt of its more powerful neighbour's wrath. In the reign of Alexander 111. it belonged to the Leiths, a family who owned extensive possessions in Midlothian, including the lands of Restalrig, and took their patrimonial surname from the town. About the commencement of the fourteenth century these possessions passed by marriage to the Logans, the remains of whose ancient strong- VIGNETTs-Arms, vinegar Close, Leith.
Volume 10 Page 390
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Volume 10 Page 391
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